ruminations on a series of unrelated events
From Now On is a suite of video projections working in concert to create a dialogue around the theme of climate change. From a cynical perception of human spectacle and folly in the face of dire circumstances, to the depiction of land use across a geological time-scale, each piece contributes to this consideration from a different perspective. Together the various projections create a complex interplay of imagery and voices.
From Now On was an exhibit I had at the Arts Council of Indianapolis in February of 2013. The Dream Tree (which wasn’t called that at the time) was part of that show, so I thought I would take the opportunity to write about From Now On and give some context to this tree that I am currently installing at The Urban Chalkboard.
The show at the Arts Council actually grew out of a video-mapping installation called Better or Worse? which I had the year before when the Super Bowl was here in town. The show was part of a group exhibition called TURF. My excitement coming off of the TURF show led me to think about doing something on a larger scale and consider where I could show it. I contacted the Arts Council, they agreed and we set the date almost a year out. And it took the whole year to prepare the show, and then it took several people the entire month of January to install the show. It was a ambitious undertaking both conceptually and technically. Despite the early conception of the global warming theme that stayed consistent throughout, what the actual pieces were going to be evolved substantially and far later into the creative process than I would have liked. But I have to work my way through a lot of ideas and ride out the mental evolution of those ideas until I get to that moment when they feel right conceptually, aesthetically and practically.
The tree actually came into the mix rather late in the game. I was feeling that the show, as I had it conceived at the time, lacked some dimensionality. It had a lot of flatness and slickness about it, but it was missing the soulful, organic, mind-grabbing piece I knew I had to have. A piece that people could feel a tangible relationship with. But what was that going to be? I knew it had to be transformative in the sense that I was depicting a rather bleak situation with the other pieces and I needed a hopeful piece that spoke to the possibility of solution.
I was driving through my Near Eastside neighborhood when I noticed a dead maple tree in an empty lot. The second I saw it, I knew the crazy thing I had to do. I had to peel it, (There is a stop motion animation of all the bark “falling off” the tree that played in the lobby of the Arts Council.) cut it down in pieces, get it to my studio, sand it relentlessly until the wee hours of too many nights to imagine, transport it to the gallery, reconstruct it and finally bring it back to life in a sense, transform it, by video-mapping on it. Yes, I knew it all in a nanosecond and there was no going back. I can not express enough the craziness of the logistics of what I just described. There was also the craziness of having no idea if it was even going to work until it was in the gallery and projected on. It could be a a colossal failure and I would have no idea until it was too late. But the risk was thrilling and something just told me it was going to pack a major punch.
Statement from the Exhibit
At the heart of Lewis’ video installation, From Now On, is the classic struggle of man versus nature. This provocative video-mapping experience is a rich consideration of the tensions between nature and industrialization. Lewis’ depictions of the forces at play in climate change are placed in visually compelling, dynamic relationships that delight the senses as they raise questions regarding the future. From Now On offers hope in the form of a dead tree that appears to come alive with moving imagery and becomes a metaphorical image of human knowledge and beliefs.
Special Thanks for help with From Now On goes to:
The Arts Council of Indianapolis
Adam Glasscock for his significant 3D mapping contributions
Mike Lulgjuraj for his digital expertise
Albert William for his wonderful 3D renderings
Dave Phelps for his sound track creation
Jamey McPherson for his physical installation prowess
Geoff Coryell for his documentation
Alex Nelson for his chainsaw and installation assistance
Joah Lozinak for his electrical skills
Elizabeth Sparrow for all her emotional and creative support
I would also like to thank Shannon Linker and Lindsey Lord of the Arts council for all their assistance and patience.