REVIEW: Traces

**featured image a screenshot from the final frame of “Gone” on Virtual Mutations, Camila Magrane

9:00am • Monday, January 30, 2023 • Institute for the Humanities Gallery

Traces captured many emotions and impressions in the small space of the Institute for the Humanities Gallery, and in the even smaller spaces of single Polaroid photos. The exhibition, created by Camila Magrane, involves a series of Polaroids and larger collages which visitors view through the lens of an augmented reality application called Virtual Mutations. It took a little while for the app to download, but the effect was impressive once I held my phone up to Magrane’s works. In some, platforms telescoped out of the scenes while footprints wove their way in and out of the frame; in another, crows appeared to flock out of the frame and surround the viewer. Overall, I was able to use the technology fairly seamlessly to access the whole experience–in some cases the image on my phone fell out of line with the actual frame, or I needed to move around in order to get the animations to begin, but once I began it was easy to navigate the exhibit.

“Gone”, Camila Magrane

One of the themes Magrane promised to explore in the works featured in Traces was the connection between the past and present, and my favorite example of this theme was in “Gone,” one of her larger collage pieces. Once accessed through Virtual Mutations, the viewer moves slowly through the window in the center, through which appears another window in another wall, creating an Escher-esque illusion. Literally tying together the different versions of the scene is a white rope, appearing in different arrangements with the other furniture and the fish that make up the scene. Eventually the window gives way to a shore, with the white rope leading out unendingly into the ocean. I felt that I was tracing the path of whoever had disappeared into the waves, watching the remnants of their life subsumed by successive tides.

“Tension”, Camila Magrane

The Polaroids in the exhibit added a different facet to the overall mood of the gallery. Each Polaroid, or small arrangement of Polaroids, was titled with an emotional or psychic state, like “Angst,” “Rapture,” “Tension,” or “Anticipation.” To me, these titles also served the theme of Magrane’s work by alluding to a Before and After, or the tension of the in-between. Viewed through Virtual Mutations, the animated Polaroids featured the repetitive movement of human forms–I felt like they activated my mirror neurons, nudging me towards a phantom experience of the emotions they portrayed.

Overall, Traces created a powerful and surreal space that nudged me to think more deeply about the relationship of technology with art. The convergence of antique technologies like Polaroid film and cutting-edge ones like virtual reality lent a sense of timelessness to Magrane’s work. I highly recommend the exhibit to anyone passing by the Institute for the Humanities Gallery as a bite-sized look into the future of interactive art.


What: a series of collages and Polaroids accompanied by animations seen through the augmented reality application Virtual Mutations, exploring the relationship between past and present

When: January 11-February 10, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm

Where: Institute for the Humanities Gallery

Tickets: free and open to the public!

My mind is already bending after watching the trailer for this exhibition, linked below. Traces is a multimedia experience created by Camila Magrane, an artist trained in video game development who has experience working in photography, collage, animation and virtual and augmented reality. This particular exhibition draws from several of those disciplines, with collages and Polaroids in the physical world setting the stage for animations and clips in the virtual world, as experienced by the viewer from their device through the app Virtual Mutations. Each work is interactive, with elements in each piece only discoverable through the lens of augmented reality. The Institute for the Humanities Gallery webpage describes Magrane’s work as an exploration of the connection between past and present. I look forward to experiencing her art for myself so I can share more with you about how this is achieved. Stay tuned!


**featured image is a still from the trailer, 0:28

REVIEW: CCPS Exhibition. Stasys Eidrigevičius: Collages

Before you read on, take a close look at Stasys Eidrigevičius’ pieces. Notice what you will about his placement of objects in relation to one another, the emphasis on odd shadows, all the shapes and angles involved. Regard each separately, trying not to immediately put any of the images together:

What can I say about these works? I was so befuddled by each one, torn by the wanting to fixate on the alarming details and the knowing that taking it as a conglomeration is the meaning of collage.

All I could do was be overwhelmed by slight curves in the edges of the pieces and the uncomfortably forced eye contact between figures. The expressions on characters’ faces ranged from haunting to somber to desperate to dazzled to sadistic to sly. I wasn’t sure what to make of the positions Eidrigevičius puts these persons into. It feels like each piece has an element of force that I find unsettling. Hands grip, eyes pierce, feet trample. Everything seemed too jarring to work together as cohesively as I expected it should.

Eidrigevičius further adds chaos to his work through additions made by his own hand. He deals in scribbled shading and blocky figures, asymmetrical faces and indiscernible expressions. I was so distraught by the time I’d spent ten minutes in the room with the artwork that I could hardly see straight. An unfortunately poetic, single tear rolled down my flustered cheek. Seconds after the only other people entered, I had to hightail it out of there, but not before I heard their first impressions (“Very symbolic,” says the man with an angular European accent. “Hm,” replies the woman, curtly. “I’ve been trying to figure out what the symbolism is,” he continues, illuminating nothing).

I don’t know that I could pick out any one symbol that persists throughout the pieces, or even a general grouping of motifs. Everything seems literal to a point of discomfort (mine), but I suppose there was a similar line of thinking throughout the collection. Something in each piece is being trapped, maybe not by the specific creature in the image, but by something. Entrapment could be a metaphor for something else, or it could represent nothing else but itself. Perhaps the artist is feeling constricted by the world’s narrow view of what art should be. Maybe he is reflecting on a home country whose practices of censorship are too harsh for goodness to grow.

Or maybe, as I always prefer to believe, Eidrigevičius strives only to challenge the limits of his viewers’ and his own thinking by combining unrelated objects and ideas. His mind knows few borders between things, preferring to string a doodle onto the end of everything. He sees shadows that might not be there, connections bridged between the physical and the emotional. There may or may not be anything much deeper than artwork that wishes to be fully open to interpretation.

If you’re interested in seeing Eidrigevičius’ work in the flesh, I urge you to visit Weiser Hall’s International Institute Gallery, room 547. The exhibit will be up until the end of November.




REVIEW: Collage Concert

Now in its 38th time, Collage Concert by the School of Music, Theater, and Dance on January 17, 2015 put together another incredible show featuring many departments within SMTD. This unique performance, in which one act followed another without pauses, showed how interconnected different disciplines of art can be.

On a performance style like that of Collage, where works from old and new come together to create one performance experience, Maestro Gustav Meier (former professor at Eastman School of Music and U-M School of Music) states:

“…[A] quartet called the Five Century Ensemble, a soprano, a tenor, cello, and harpsichord, … performed music from every period with the last note of each work overlapping the first note of the next composition. … We were all just stunned. It never occurred to me that such a programming technique could happen. What a contrast — old music, new music — so close together.” (Quoted from The Instrumentalist, February 1980)

At the University of Michigan that night, in our own Hill Auditorium, we created a gigantic Five Century Ensemble — or rather, Five Century and Disciplines Ensemble. We are lucky to be at a school where many departments are top-notch in their fields, and the School of Music, Theater, and Dance is no exception. However different the appearances may be, all performances were tied to the core of artistry.

This kind of performance requires a lot of careful planning, both logistically and artistically. First of all, there are hundreds of performers in Collage, who are all students with different, busy lives. Organizers have to connect with all of them to make sure they are at the right place at the right time. In addition to this, the lighting cues can be complex, and stage setups can require special knowledge. I wonder if the logistics coordinators for this performance got to sleep at all in the past few days with all of this in mind. All of these were executed perfectly, at least to my knowledge.

Artistically, the directors put together a program that just flows. There is no worry about the quality of the performances, as the individual acts are very strong. However, the program — which included various types of music, skits, and dance works — somehow needs to make sense without any gaps for applauses and reset. With that said, the performace order was truly stunning, especially in the first half. My most favorite was a reading and stunt of Shakespeare’s “Henry V” by Ian Johnson and Ben Reitemeier, going into Gandolfi’s Flourishes and Meditations on a Renaissance Theme, played by the Symphony Band. The music seemed to compliment the Shakespeare play so perfectly. Many other surprising yet understandable combinations happened throughout the two-hour show.

I have been on two sides of the Collage: performer and audience. I performed in the Collage last year as a Symphony Band member, and it was such a wonderful experience. Now, I am happy to see the performance from the other side, sharing the surprises with the general public. It excites me that I share practice rooms with these students, and I can only imagine how great they will become in the future in their arts. (And perhaps me too — hopefully?)

PREVIEW: Collage Concert


Collage Concert is an eclectic collection of performances representing all departments of the School of Music, Theater, and Dance. Unlike in other performances, all the acts in the Collage Concert are presented without pauses. Solo organ, dance pieces, jazz combo, theater company, choir… You name it, they’ll have it. If you are thinking of attending just one performance by SMTD this year, this is the one — it’s a night of virtuosic performances that would never fail to amaze you.

WHEN: Saturday, January 17 at 8pm

WHERE: Hill Auditorium

TICKETS: $10 with student ID; available online or in person at the League Ticket Office