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Artist Tim Doud flips the script on portraits

A screenshot from artist Tim Doud's "#straightacting" premiering at McDaniel College Thursday.
A screenshot from artist Tim Doud's "#straightacting" premiering at McDaniel College Thursday.

Artist becomes subject in Tim Doud's new digital video art piece, "#straightacting," premiering at McDaniel College's exhibit "Unincorporated" on Thursday. The video piece casts creator Doud as a portrait subject, while people he has painted in the past control the look of the final piece.

In addition to "#straightacting," "Unincorporated" features collaborative video presentations by artists Doud and artist Zoe Charlton. According to Doud, the exhibition features multiple digital projects, all of which are an extension of the work he and Charlton create in their experimental Baltimore collaborative project "sindikit."

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"Unincorporated" features Doud's first foray into digital media, having worked primarily as a painter, while most of Charlton's work is focused on drawings and collage work. The project "#straightacting" is a video portrait of the artist, expanding what is normally a stationary piece of art through time. Doud said it's always exciting to branch out into new media, while focusing on the same ideas as in your other work.

"When you go delving into another medium, you get to engage the ideas differently," Doud said. "Observational portraits are such an anachronistic way of working. Paintings are always made in the studio. That's a kind of work that is often entrenched in another kind of philosophy."

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He said they decided to take advantage of the opportunity of creating art for a college, versus a commercial site, by doing something outside of each of their comfort zones.

The piece reverses the standard artist-subject relationship. In "#straightacting" Doud sits for his portraiture, while frequent subjects Amy Gaipa and Rodney Cuellar capture his likeness through video. Doud said Gaipa has sat for about 40 drawings and paintings of his in the past, while Cuellar has been the subject in at least 25 pieces of work.

"They have been sitting for me for so long, that it was exciting for them to engage with me conceptually," Doud said. "It's my project, but we've shifted the power dynamics. I asked them to make basically every decision about how I would be portrayed."

The entire "Unincorporated" exhibit is built around collaboration. The exhibit itself focuses on the collaborative work of Doud and Charlton, and both artists have recruited further aid in each of their pieces in the show. Doud said the act of collaboration is one of the most valuable things an artist can do.

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"It's all about the surprise that having someone else work with you can bring," Doud said. "I had an idea of what these portraits were for me, but the experience of making them had nothing to do with how they turned out."

Doud said one of the most unusual aspects of the project was having to act in front of the camera. He said he's not someone who enjoys performing or even being photographed, but it was his discomfort in front of the camera that added to the final piece.

In addition to "#straightacting," the "Unincorporated" exhibit features two other video and digital pieces with which audiences can engage.

Charlton's piece "Pilgrimage" takes place in the digital realm, bringing visitors into a virtual world that she says explores cultural identity, tourism and tokenism of identity. Participants move through a digital space filled with objects and artifacts from cultures that are the subject of cultural tourism and tokenism.

The final piece involves Doud and Charlton collaborating on a film together, where they reach into an existing film, and alter and re-edit it to change its meaning. Doud said he can't say much about the project, but it is a fun reworking of a problematic piece from the 1970s.

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If You Go

What: "Unincorporated" opening reception

When: 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1. Exhibit remains open until Sept. 23.

Where: Peterson Hall, McDaniel College, 2 College Hill, Westminster

Cost: Free

For more information: Visit www.mcdaniel.edu

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