Three years of collaboration culminates in RAC exhibit for video artists | St. Louis Public Radio

Three years of collaboration culminates in RAC exhibit for video artists

Mar 11, 2016

Artists Chad Eivens and Kevin Harris are designing an immersive video experience unlike anything else in St. Louis.

They’ve created a room at RAC where movements and sounds are recorded, processed, and projected on eight separate screens. The project involves complicated video manipulations but the artists say the heart of the project rests in the experience.

“It’s almost on a very simple level like what a carny would do when he brings in the merry-go-round or some kind of experience or ride for someone to enjoy,” said Eivens.

The project, titled Octarrarium, opens tonight at the Regional Arts Commission. The artists have built what Harris describes as “house within a house” inside the organization’s front gallery space.  Visitors enter an eight-sided room where their movements and sounds are recorded, processed using analogue video and audio synthesizers, and projected onto the walls around them. 

Octarrarium Installation
Credit Provided by Kevin Harris

“If you think about it the source content of this whole installation will be the spectators, and the viewers and whoever is coming in,” said Harris. “Their images, captured with cameras, is the sole source content. There’s no pre-recorded video, dvds, no computers.”

The project is a culmination of three years’ worth of collaboration between the two artists. Both Eivens and Harris have been making work throughout St. Louis for over a decade. Eivens work is built on the use of security and closed circuit video cameras. Harris’s work was initially based on manipulating found imagery, dvds, and video files. The two launched their first collaboration at an artist collective space called Mushmouth which no longer exists. 

Since then they’ve refined their approach, blending responsibilities and techniques. Eivins has learned synthesis and manipulation skills from Harris while Harris has developed live-video abilities from Eivins.

The pair said St. Louis provides and interesting arena for their work. The available space and lack of public regulations have both influenced their work and allowed them to further develop their craft. Yet they said, there isn’t wide support for experimental video art in the city and funding can remain scarce. Both artists expressed sincere appreciation for the aid they received from RAC and The HEARding Cats Collective to develop their project.

The pair isn’t restricted to installations and have been known to collaborate with musicians. Subsequently, musicians will be asked to perform within the installation throughout the course of the exhibit. Performers include violinist Alex Cunningham, saxophonist Dave Stone, percussionist Rich O’Donnell, and non-musician Pancake artist Rob Severson. 

The installation will be on display until April 30.

Previous projection work by Harris and Eivens
Credit Provided by Kevin Harris