Let's Talk About Art: Collaborative Art


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This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.

Do you remember how the world looked when you were playing as a child? Nothing was mundane and everything had details to explore. Local artists Jeremy Boyle and Mark Franchino welcome you back to that childlike frame of mind in their art installation, "Untitled 1," on view at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Together they have created an environment that collects, reorganizes and builds objects/artifacts with the feel of a play space.

Mr. Boyle is a musician and assistant professor of art at Clarion University of Pennsylvania as well as co-director of the Children's Innovation Project at the CREATE Lab of the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University. Mr. Franchino, a curator and artist working in sculpture, drawing, printmaking and video, is an associate professor of art at Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

The two often talk about art and teaching. They knew they had a lot in common and decided to try combining their artistic styles. The central piece of "Untitled I" started as a drawing of a playhouse.

In the drawing, a playhouse sits high on stilts, with cords attached to speakers and a dangling extension cord. In the gallery you see a series of architectural-style drawings and the constructed playhouse. It's a bit like walking into a science-fiction movie: The scenery is oddly familiar but with more wiring.

"The drawing in the show served as a way for us to visualize our ideas," Mr. Franchino explains. "We thought it would be fun to construct one that could serve as a playhouse we might have enjoyed as children. We knew from the beginning we wanted to create a space and imbue it with a sense of life."

"Untitled 1" is also a sophisticated sound installation. Pleasant outdoor sounds, such as chirping birds, come from speakers -- but it is not recorded audio. In fact, the soundscape comes from circuits built by Mr. Boyle.

The rest of the exhibit includes a massive collection of AA batteries, color-coded speakers, video installations and more. The artists use low-tech, inexpensive material mixed with high-tech elements to invite the viewer to think about systems, communication, connections and the liberating feeling of being lost in play.

"Untitled 1" is one of 10 solo and collaborative exhibits on view through Sunday. Information: www.pittsburgharts.org.

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