Headlands Center for the Arts

Eric Dyer

maryland | film/video/new media
Artist in Residence Program 2019


Artist Statement

I create participatory sculptures and live performances from reinventions of the zoetrope, a 19th-century optical device. Early in my career, I pioneered the process of making films from spinning sequential sculptures. Working with these zoetrope-like objects forced my fresh consideration of ideas through a visual grammar of loops, spirals, and dimensional motion. I am driven to explore the expressive potential of this mandala-like form of motion-art, as its development was cut short by the invention of film, a medium that had us trade the zoetrope’s simple interactivity, tactility, and totality of imagery for the tunnel-vision of the projector’s beam, the corral of the screen, and the passivity of the audience. My recent work explores topics related to media and cultural history, our relationship with technology, and kinetics as a form of artistic expression. Physical presence is becoming increasingly important to both the creation of my work and how the public experiences the art. I consider the zoetrope’s resurrection as a manifestation of a universal desire for tactility and physical presence amidst our increasingly disembodied existence as we work, play, and socialize in virtual environments. Paradoxically, my use of contemporary technologies such as digital fabrication, computer animation/compositing, LEDs, and custom-built micro-controllers, suggests that I am irreversibly augmented by our digital age.

While at Headlands

While a Headlands resident, I plan to further develop two performances in which I spin and project zoetrope-like images live, like a DJ spins records. One performance, a collaboration with composer/musician Rudresh Mahanthappa, explores the life and philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi, while the other shows and tells some of the more outlandish and largely unknown stories of moving image history. In addition, as part of creating and photographing circular sequential sculptures in my studio, I plan to hunt for Bay Area pre-cinema moving-image treasures, such as zoetrope strips, flip-books, and phenakistiscope/zoopraxiscope disks. These discoveries contribute to my performances as well as my longer-term Creative Capital project, the large-scale walk-through Zoetrope Tunnel.

Selected Works

Flora, 2018; UV-cured pigment on vinyl, polycarbonate, strobe, electronics; 47 x 47 x 4 in.; © Eric Dyer

Shabamanetica, 2017; UV-cured pigment on aluminum, steel, walnut, strobe, electronics; 140 x 96 x 48 in.; © Eric Dyer

The Bellows March, 2009; video, 5:30 min.; © Eric Dyer

Copenhagen Cycles—Times Square Midnight Moment, 2006/2015; single-channel multiscreen video, 3:00 min.; © Eric Dyer

Girona Octopi, 2016; adhesive synthetic inkjet print, crank box, electronics, live video projection; 18 x18 x 9 ft.; © Eric Dyer

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