Kimura Gallery showcases interactive art in ‘Healing 1’

Students use their shadows to cut paths in the projected pattern as part of the Kimura Gallery’s ‘Healing 1’ by boston artist Brian Knep. (Photos by Heather Hamilton)
Students use their shadows to cut paths in the projected pattern as part of the Kimura Gallery’s ‘Healing 1’ by boston artist Brian Knep. (Photos by Heather Hamilton)

Art changes over time, but it doesn’t usually happen within a single piece over the course of seconds.

Healing 1,” a technological art piece by Boston artist Brian Knep, does just that and is on display in the Kimura Gallery.

The interactive piece comprises of a video projector, video camera, computer, custom software and vinyl flooring. When something, moves across the path of the projector and camera, the shapes projected on the floor shift in response. Move quickly enough, and the entire projection can be erased. The piece then “restarts” and eventually fills the space again.

True to its name, “Healing 1” centers on the concept of healing. When a shadow cuts through the shapes on the floor, the shapes never reappear in the exact formation as before. A memory of the cut remains imprinted in the software, and creates new shapes to fill the empty space, similar to how a scar forms over a healing wound. In both cases, the surface is never the same.

The installation was set up without Knep setting foot in Alaska. Sean Licka, art professor and Kimura Gallery curator, said this provided some challenges, despite working with Knep over the phone.

“What you have is a wide angle projector, and what happens is that you have to position it right so that you can project. But then you have a camera, which is key to the interactive component that you see,” Licka said. “Adjusting the camera is problematic, getting the lens right, that sort of thing. You have to key it to the configuration of the map as close as you can get it. We didn’t do too bad.”

At the opening reception last Wednesday, Licka explained how the installation works and the concept behind it to groups of students. However, he couldn’t reach everyone.

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“I actually wandered in and then didn’t read the placard. So I didn’t know what it was supposed to be, which is, I think, for the better,” Arkaei Futerma, music performance junior, said. “I can kind of see what (Knep) meant.”

Despite enjoying the piece, Futerma didn’t interact with it much.

“I was mainly watching what it was doing when other people were stepping on it,” he said. “It’s kind of cool. I was trying to figure out how it was made.”

Healing 2

None of the students who went to the opening saw how the projection looked when it was first turned on but Licka knows.

“It begins with these pill shapes that are sequentially arranged, and what it does is that it pushes down from one side all the way down to the far end. And what happens then is that all these other forms begin to emerge,” he said.

Knep has a computer science and mathematics degree from Brown University and a master’s in computer science from the same institution. He has done technological work behind the scenes of movies such as “Jurassic Park” while employed as a senior software engineer at Industrial Light and Magic.

His artistic installations have shown in several galleries, and his piece “Deep Wounds,” commissioned by Harvard University, has won awards from Ars Electronica, the International Association of Art Critics and Americans for the Arts. Knep is the artist-in-residence at Harvard Medical School.

“Healing 1” is showing Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Kimura Gallery through April 18. For more information about Knep, visit his website at http://www.blep.com.