Documenting artist’s Simon McKeown’s recent project for Cork Ignite, Trace Elements looks into and allows visitors to explore the worlds of 3D projection mapping and shadow puppetry. The original project was part of Cork Culture Night, which saw the exterior of Cork’s College of Commerce brought to life with 3D projections and accompanying music.
With over 25 years of digital art skills at the highest level in animation and computer games, Mckeown’s Cork Ignite project was one of the highlights of Culture Night using a stunning mix of digital technology, surreal soundscapes and animation. What sets Mckeown’s projection work apart from the rest (apart from being at the forefront of the artistic projection mapping field) is his frequent collaboration with disability agencies and with disabled artists, and his Ignite commission represents the largest ever investment in Ireland’s arts and disability sector.
McKeown suffers from disability; being deaf, he also has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Brittle Bones) and has had around 140 breaks in his life time, the combination of which inspired him to collaborate with people with a range of impairments (from autism to Down’s syndrome to deafness). The resulting 30 minute live art projection also featured disabled actors and bespoke musical scores created by disabled musicians.
Apart from being a spectacular visual feast, Mckeown has said “[his] aim was to create, in collaboration with different groups, a hugely exciting body of work in cork and for this work to be seen as a fundamental stepping stone in the perception and production of art which touches on, or considers disability. Cork Ignite has wowed a hugely a hugely diverse audience and in doing so achieved that aim for me that’s success”.
Along with documenting the process of creating the work for Cork Ignite, Trace Elements also gives visitors the chance to experience 3D projection mapping for themselves, albeit on a much smaller scale. Hidden inside a box in the FACT foyer, Mckeown has produced mapping work on a boot, accompanied by delightful visuals and immersive sounds. If an old boot doesn’t sound exciting to you, it's worth noting that the object itself doesn’t matter; the piece is about showing how 3D projection mapping can make anything into art.
One particular section of Trace Elements focuses on shadow puppetry and silhouette work, part of the original project that solely features disabled collaborators. Tying this element to FACT’s ideologies regarding communities and getting involved in the arts, there’s a chance for visitors to play around with their own silhouettes and shadow puppets and create a piece of work here in the FACT Connects Space.
Mckeown's collaboration with the disabled community aims to reduce the stigma around disabled artists, and this "get involved" approach makes Trace Elements an important exhibition to see at FACT.
See the exhibition for yourself - now showing daily until 3 April at FACT, FREE entry.