It doesn’t matter whether you stare at a painting for one minute or one hour — it doesn’t change. Sure, you might absorb different aspects of the piece and come to new, more profound conclusions about it the longer you look. But at the end of the day, it’s a completed work, and it always looks exactly the same.
Works like performance and video art are an entirely different story. They fall under the umbrella of time-based media, a genre that includes any work of art that requires a set period of time for the completion of the experience for the viewer. A video, for example, necessitates that the viewer take it in from beginning to end in order to absorb all of the information. Only watching a portion of the video would be akin to staring at a corner of a painting — you’d be missing the full picture.
There’s a new festival in town celebrating the time-based genre. The inaugural Receiver Time-Based Media Festival will take place Thursday through Sunday, featuring more than 20 artists from around the country displaying their work in 11 different venues. The festival will highlight a diverse array of art, including participatory art, performances, sonic art, kinetic sculpture, and video art. “We’re trying to bring good, contemporary art to Charleston,” says festival co-organizer Liz Vaughan. “Most of contemporary art is time-based. It’s innovative, edgy, and experimental.”
The festival kicks off on Thursday with a lecture from featured artist David Bowen at Redux, followed by the opening of his exhibition, drift. One of the exhibition’s installations, “Fly Lights,” consists of six devices containing various sized swarms of houseflies and sensors that correspond to the direction of spotlights. The result is a chaotic series of lights being projected into the space based on the subtle movements of the flies.
As the weekend continues, a variety of other boundary-pushing time-based art will be on display, including a performance piece by Mike Richison called “Simulsuck.” Festival co-organizer Jarod Charzewski says that he is most excited to see this work. “The piece involves a vacuum cleaner that’s been converted into a musical instrument. The artist will play it, and if that wasn’t enough, he then teaches an audience member to play it,” he says.
Video screenings include pieces from newcomer Marshall Thomas and the more established Robbie Land and Liz Rodda. “That’s what’s great about Receiver,” Charzewski says. “It places up and comers with established artists.” Other artists slated to participate in the festival include locals Nick Jenkins, Mason Greenewald, and Sam Sfirri, as well as a slew of out-of-towners, including Christine Kirouac, Ruthless Animals, Jenny Herrick, Sean Robinson, and more. The festival is set to close with a performance from Charleston’s own New Music Collective at Gage Hall on Sunday evening.
Drawing inspiration for the event from the Time-Based Art Festival in Portland, Ore., Vaughan and Charzewski believe that their boundary-pushing festival will fill a in the local art scene. “Charleston is an art destination. There are a lot of talented people, galleries, and great space,” Charzewski says. “But time-based media has been neglected here in previous years. Receiver is important because without a healthy art world, you don’t have a healthy community or a well-rounded city or culture.”