WEST BRATTLEBORO—As he relocates it to his home studio in West Brattleboro, Michael Moyse hopes to jump start the innovative art center he founded more than two decades ago with a free workshop.
On Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 18 and 19, The Center for Digital Art (with support from C.X. Silver Gallery) is hosting an intensive exploration of digital arts at 81 Pleasant Valley Rd. The event is a collaboration between Moyse and Chinese video artist Le Xi. The two-day program is free, with lunch provided for a donation. Registration is required.
The Center for Digital Art is a nonprofit educational organization, resource center, exhibition/performance space dedicated to works of art that use video and computer-based technologies.
Founded in 1997 by Moyse, the Center enabled local high school students to discover two then-very-new filmmaking tools: digital video and computer editing software. Through the years, the Center has continued to employ cutting-edge digital media tools.
In addition, the Center has also provided a space for digital artists to showcase their works, and has brought notable digital arts and performers to Brattleboro for gallery exhibition and performances.
“It may have been some time since CDA has done anything public, but this workshop represents a fresh beginning for us, and we’re eager to launch new activities,” Moyse says.
An artist, filmmaker, and teacher, Moyse has an extensive background in film and experimental art. His multi-screen video artwork has been shown in the U.S. and abroad. Prior to his position as artistic director of CDA, Moyse was a sound editor in New York City for such film directors as Woody Allen, Brian De Palma, Jonathan Demme, Peter Yates, and Otto Preminger.
Although his credentials in film are impressive, Moyse primarily considers himself a visual artist.
After working for many years with oils, canvas, plastic, and glass, his work turned toward what Moyse calls “motionpainting — artwork that transforms the concept of traditional two-dimensional art through an exploration of creative possibilities inherent in hybrid artforms that integrate drawing, painting, video, animation, sound, and narrative elements.”
With the coming workshop, Moyse has fulfilled a longstanding desire to work with his good friend Le Xi.
“Le may be familiar to the people of southern Vermont because he had an exhibit of his own digital works at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center a few years ago,” Moyse says.
Chinese video artist Le Xi was born during China’s Cultural Revolution, and now is as part of the contemporary Chinese art scene. Le uses nontraditional materials working in two and three dimensions and animation film.
His work has appeared in group exhibitions in China, the U.S., and Europe. Having received his MFA in fine art from The School of Visual Arts in New York City, Le splits his time between China, New York, and Vermont.
Le claims that what draws him to Brattleboro are its different kinds of light, for he approaches light, shadow, time, and space in what he calls a “constant state of watchful experimentation,” leading to the development of kinetic video art pieces.
Pros and amateurs
From the people who have already shown interest in attending this CDA workshop, Moyse assumes that the participants are likely to be both practicing artists and amateurs curious about the potential digital tools in creating art.
“I would like tointroduce participants at the workshop to the palette of digital tools,” Moyse explains. “I suspect that many of the participants will be like myself. I began making traditional art but later began to integrate into my visual art the new tools available because of the computer revolution.
“The possibilities were very exciting. With such tools you can have the ability to make a painting move or integrate sound into a still work. I personally found that with these tools you can amplify what you achieve as an artist. Instead of conducting music with a chamber ensemble, you now can lead a full orchestra.”
On both Saturday and Sunday of the CDA workshop, the first session will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until noon. After a break for lunch provided on site, the afternoon session will start up again at 1 p.m. and continue until 4 p.m. During both the morning and afternoon sessions, Moyse and Xi will also lead outdoor walks and show excerpts from films related to workshop discussions.
“Saturday morning’s session starts with a program we call ‘Introduction to the Contemporary Art Palette,’” Moyse says. “Here we will investigate the integration of traditional and modern aesthetic practices through drawing, painting, video, sound, and computer tools.”
Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptop computers, but they also can share the two laptops that will be available on-site.
“On the first day of the workshop we are teaching the participants the use of two software programs which they can install on their laptops: Flash, a multimedia software platform used for production of animations; and ArtRage, which simulates traditional art on canvas in the computer,” Moyse says.
On Saturday afternoon, the workshop will explore the application of these tools and consider aesthetic approaches to making works of digital art.
“We will develop and experiment with work that was started on Saturday on Sunday, as Le and I will collaborate with participants as relevant or needed,” Moyse says.
To end the festivities, a special event is planned for Sunday evening. From 6 to 9 p.m. all participants in the workshop are invited to a potluck meal with artists from Brattleboro West Arts. Moyse and Xi will present their own work and discuss the processes that go into the creation of their innovative art.
Moyse hopes the workshop will be a new beginning for CDA.
“This workshop is a way for me to test the water for the community’s interest in this kind of instruction,” Moyse says. “I would like to do future classes and workshops for like-minded artists.
“Ultimately, I hope to develop a summer institute at CDA that would last two to three weeks. However that is a bit down the road, because CDA probably would need to draw beyond the local area to get interested participants committing to such an intensive endeavor.”