For an art student, going beyond the conventional paintbrush on canvas is hard enough; finding a way to
showcase art beyond a restrictive art gallery is even harder. However, art professor Juan Obando and his ART 360 class, the Static Image in Digital Art, found a way to break that barrier. All they needed was a projector and some of Elon’s architecture.
Professor Obando’s idea for this projector art stemmed from two typical artistic limitations. First, he didn’t like that his students’ completed work was left in Arts West never to be seen by a majority of Elon’s campus. Second, he knows that how stuffy traditional art spaces can be.
“[My class was] studying how artists have been rebelling against showing in galleries and museums,” Obando said. “These spaces are sometimes boring and don’t welcome social and political questions.”
With artists like Jenny Holzer and Krzysztof Wodiczko serving as their inspirations, students photographed buildings around campus to scout for potential projection sites. Then, while keeping in mind the buildings’ history and architecture, students used Photoshop to design images to be projected on to the buildings of their choice.
Obando and his class publicly showed their final images all over campus in late October. Images ranged from
children in the windows of West dormitory, which was formerly an orphanage, to a graphic of the wealth distribution in the U.S. projected against Koury Business Center. Some students on campus actually thought the class was a politically affiliated organization, since their showing was the same night as the last presidential election.
“They thought we were part of a political organization,” Obando said. “They asked if we were Democrats or Republicans, and we had to say, ‘No, we’re just artists.’”
Professor Obando noted his students reveled in the assignment. The projected allowed students to apply what they had learned in the classroom about unconventional showings and controversial images, in a context that was open to conversation.
“The projected engaged my students and other students,” Obando said. “Art has the power to make people guess. We engaged conversation that would not happen in a gallery.”
To see some of the photographs Obando’s students created for the project, they can be viewed here at Elon Art’s Facebook page.