Published On February 14, 2014 | By Haley Feller | Interviews
Plume Pittsburgh EventsWith technology now a staple in everyone’s lives, it is no wonder that it has made its way into art, as well. Artists are approaching new media as mediums to craft their messages. On February 7th, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts unveiled six new solo exhibitions, one of which is Ian Brill‘s interactive installation “Plume.” The dome uses motion, sound, and color triggered by audience members to create a sublime atmosphere to illuminate the otherwise dark gallery space.


We were lucky enough to chat with Ian about his decision to create installation art and work with new media.

At some point in time someone asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I valued this question. I thought: I would like to travel to existing spaces and be responsible to bring them to a state of completion. Something between being an artist and a consultant. After experiencing James Turrell’s show, “Into the Light” at Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory, in 2002, I was reassured of this naturally evolving series of intuitive impulses. Collaborating with the brilliant Garth Zeglin, PHD for a number years, installing art for the Wood Street galleries and assisting for Kurt Hentschläger for three years contributed to refining my goals and vision.

On top of creating art, Ian teaches new media courses at Penn State University’s World Campus and the Community College of Beaver Country. Balancing two careers is always difficult, so we asked Ian how he feels his teaching has impacted his art.

The short answer is immensely. It’s a clear extension of my studio practice and the closest thing to Tai Chi or Yoga I routinely practice, with regard to helping me find balance and harmony with the world around me.

So what is “Plume” all about?

When I started the “Transmission” series I inadvertently ping’d it from another dimension. To reference “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac”, I have been painting the walls with blood (well, specifically, Heinz ketchup- through the assistance of a grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation) to facilitate its inevitable emergence. Plume, like all of my work, is an extension of an obsessive studio practice. It is where all vectors converged- an optimization of immersion and appreciation for an existing space. Just as Transmission was a response to the 707 Penn Gallery, Plume is a response to its current domicile on the second floor of the Pittsburgh Center for Art.

With immersive installations like “Plume,” it is not just about the piece, but how the audience is able to interact and react with the art.

Bearing in mind “The Futurist Cookbook”, I like to consider myself to be a polite and gracious host. I want my audience to enjoy the fruits of my labor- a distillation of passion, anxiety, frustration and, ultimately, a state of sublime beauty and deeply contemplative introspection. I want my audience to experience an analog of the initial impulse that lead and maintained me through each of my sisiphean trajectories. It’s a bit of abstract poetry, but essentially, if the world has to share it’s space with me, it’s my own way of being honest and polite. I am a being that loves the process of being. There are so many ways of both recording and presenting that. I simply choose not to limit the mediums that I use. The exploratory process of making my work brings me to a state of nearly constant wonderment, like a child naturally experiences. I want to feel that way always. I want to share this feeling with the world.

Just because the installation will be on display until April 20th, doesn’t mean you should wait to experience this compilation of synchronized sound and light.

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