Engulfed by art: Experimental multimedia performance comments on social media, modern communication

Engulfed by art: Experimental multimedia performance comments on social media, modern communication

February 10th, 2013 by Casey Phillips in Life Entertainment

Cyclopaedia composer/director Tim Hinck, right, discusses a section of the performance with Michael McCamish, who is part of the muti-media event. Photo by Megan Hollenbeck


What: Tim Hinck's Cyclopaedia.

When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21-25.

Where: Center for Creative Arts, 1301 Dallas Road.

Admission: $15 general admission; $5 students (with valid ID) and children; $25 VIP ticket.

Phone: 774-6252.

Website: www.timhinck.com.

Thanks to the explosion of social media services and ubiquitous smartphone ownership, the global village is more crowded and communicative than ever.

As a result, daily life for many people is a constant bombardment of text messages, Facebook event invites and Twitter mentions, often in amounts that can seem overwhelming.

On Feb. 21, local composer Tim Hinck says he hopes to spark discussion on how communication is filtered through these channels with "Cyclopaedia," an experimental multi-discipline theatrical work.

During the hour-long performance, the audience will be seated in the center of Center for Creative Arts' auditorium while around them actors, dancers and visual artists will draw their attention from all angles.

"It's interesting to let the audience explore a performance in which they are encouraged not just to look forward into a box of entertainment but to look out into the world around them for artistic inspiration," Hinck says.

A classically trained composer and performer, Hinck increasingly has explored avant garde and experimental performances in recent years. He is the founder and director of the multi-venue experimental New Dischord Festival -- a four-day summer festival that features new and obscure concert music -- and regular host of "loft shows" at Easy Lemon Loft, an experimental performance venue on the Southside.

Bruce Kaplan is the owner and manager of Barking Legs Theater, a Dodds Avenue music venue and black box theater where Hinck frequently has performed. He says Hinck is a rare breed in Chattanooga, a classically trained artist who has crossed the aisle into progressive, experimental performance.

"I don't think anybody before him, coming from the classical side, was digging that hard into avant-garde territory," Kaplan says. "He's one of those people I hope doesn't leave Chattanooga because there aren't a lot of people to replace someone like that."

"Cyclopaedia," will continue nightly through Feb. 25 and will feature a cast of 33, including about 10 volunteers, most of whom are CCA students.

The piece's project manager, Josh Hildebrandt, says he and Hinck have been in close collaboration with the staff at CCA since early December. Wrangling a large cast of students and professional artists has been occasionally trying, Hildebrandt says, but the school's enthusiasm for the project has been rewarding.

"It's a great feeling when you have students come to you or to [CCA fine arts chair] Don Andrews and want to be involved in it," Hildebrandt says. "We've had a great experience with working with them."

With such a large cast and a vast multimedia presence of multiple slide, video and overhead projectors, Hinck says "Cyclopaedia" is by far his most ambitious project. The work is primarily funded through a $9,400 grant he received last year through CreateHere's MakeWork grant program.

"That's significant," he says. "I couldn't back that kind of production on my own."

Following each performance of "Cyclopaedia," the audience is invited to stay behind for a Talk Back discussion with Hinck and his cast and crew.

After being bombarded -- in surround -- by artistic stimuli, Hinck says the hope is that the audience is inspired to draw parallels to their lives outside the theater. If that engenders a discussion, he says, "Cyclopaedia" will have served its purpose.

"I don't want to say that this distortion of information is a good or bad thing," he explains. "I just want to say that, 'Here's what it looks like and what it does. Now go talk about it.'

"Hopefully, that will encourage folks ... to start thinking about art in the context of social ramifications and societal and anthropological issues. Then, all the sudden, art opens up to them in a completely different way."