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Every Time I Open My Eyes, I See Things • Doris Vila: Holograms

Sunday, August 24 • 1-3 pm

The Butler Institute of American Art Youngstown, Ohio
(Bermant Gallery, Beecher Center, Youngstown)

August 24, 2008 through January 4, 2009

Doris Vila is renowned for her installation and theatre pieces (e.g. The Book of Air, Spatial Rights Modulator, Theatermachine) where passing viewers or actors trigger video, holographic and sound events. This exhibition is presented in conjunction with Youngstown State University's celebration of the national His- panic culture month. This exhibition is presented in conjunction with Youngstown State University's celebration of the national Hispanic culture month.

Doris Vila creates luminous environments where stories stretch out in time and space. Her work often revolves around flocks, swarms, and crowds in motion, as viewers may trigger sounds, video and holographic scenes.

For over twenty-five years, Vila has worked with art and technology in Europe, the United States and Latin America. Born in Miami of Cuban descent, she studied at University of California, Berkeley, and Hunter College in New York City.

Vila writes: "I make holograms and responsive arenas where stories float in space as well as over time. Through multiple viewpoints viewers look and look again, revealing words and objects in a dance of personal discovery. In the weightless story-space, we can walk through the walls between the mind and the senses."

"One of the key mysteries of a hologram is that its image is made of light, weightless light. The image hovers, as if the ghost of the object is caught in a window floating free of the weight of the world."

Vila is fascinated with science, but feels that sometimes it does not go quite far enough. Through found objects, stencils, hand-drawn diagrams and words, her holograms tell of a teasing relationship with science. Emotion and technology converge in her pseudo-scientific titles. For example, A chart of the space time-sex-money continuum illuminates an “academic” chart with a shower of dollar bills. These holograms are light in more than one sense of the word.

In Vila’s floating story-spaces such as Book of Air, the image is a cloud of color, with no mass. Since it’s weightless, the image turns into an idea more than a thing. It’s something you believe in because you see it in three dimensions, though it’s impossible to touch. Vila imagines tearing up a book, throwing it up in the air and trying to read the scraps of pages as they fall to the ground.

In several works, she brings the 3 dimensions to life by adding the 4th dimension: time. In A device for the lifting of gravity and other serious situations, a hologram of fire is illuminated with live video of the feet of viewers, suspending them for an instant in the flames before their eyes.

In recent years, with the Vilamedia team, Vila has developed three full-room children’s learning games where problem- solving and cooperation are keys to success. Storymachine, one of her games, was awarded special jury recognition at Ars Electronica, Austria in 2003. Her approach promotes spontaneous group interaction, setting the stage for joint strategies, shared leadership, and, of course, fun. Paradox Beach, a walk-on learning game for kids, is permanently part of the Staten Island Children’s Museum. Paradox Beach surfs on mathematical whimsy, tickling children into solving problems with dance-floor interaction.

Vila shows internationally, lectures widely, and is a longtime observer of bird flocks. For more about Vila’s work, visit