For this artist feature we had a chance to talk with someone who has been doing this way longer than we have – by a few decades. It's always a particular pleasure for us to know that the tools used today connect back to a rich history of analog film and video that still have a fingerprint on the modern visual arts. With that experience Charles Atlas is one of those artists who has the special talent of bridging different genres of performance and production into a single cohesive piece.
When asked to send over some videos and images from Tesseract to include with this post, Charlie put together an amazing collection for us that goes back 15 years... and there was no way it wasn't going online... so strap yourself in for a bit of time travel through video.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Charlie Atlas and I started making super-8 films in 1970 and my work over the years has encompassed films, videos, works for television, sets costumes and lighting for dance, large scale video installations in museums and galleries, and since 2003 projects which include various ways of using live video. I started in 2003 with VDMX 2, mixing live video cameras and pre-recorded material for a dance performance (pushing out 320x240 @15 fps) and since then I’ve used every subsequent version of VDMX. I’ve used live video as an element in live installations in museums (SFMOMA, South London Gallery, Tate Modern Museum, Whitney Museum Biennial, The Contemporary Austin, among others), as part of live music performances (Anohni, formerly Antony and the Johnsons), dance performances (Douglas Dunn, Tesseract), and in dual collaborative improvisations with a variety of solo musicians (primarily Fennesz, and William Basinski). My work these days is mainly shown in galleries and museums.
2. What hardware / software tools do you use?
I’m a loyal Mac addict and have a variety of models of laptop and a couple of desktop computers. My setup for a live performance is often two laptops, a hardware mixer, and a couple of media players. The laptops contain either clips or inputs from live cameras, or sometimes both. Other software I use is After Effects, Premiere Pro, Cinema 4D, and Photoshop. The material I use is either clips I’ve made, or found footage of all kinds.
3. Tell us about your latest projects.
I have several ongoing projects:
Tesseract, a full evening theater performance created in collaboration with Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Reiner, consisting of Act 1: a stereoscopic 3D dance film and Act 2: a live dance performance with 3 live cameras mixed by me using VDMX and projected on a scrim in front of 6 dancers.
This project began at EMPAC in Troy, NY and had its premiere at The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and had a brief US tour ending at Brooklyn Academy of Music in December. This piece will be shown in Europe sometime in 2018.
My video installation, The Tyranny of Consciousness, will open in mid-January at The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. This is the same piece that was shown at the recent Venice Biennale and won a prize.
I am working on a large solo show for the Migros Museum in Zurich, Switzerland which opens in February and will comprise of four large video installations with 20 channels of video.
I am also preparing two shows in New York at The Kitchen. At the end of March in The Kitchen Gallery I will show two new multi-channel video installations and then at the beginning of May, a live performance, The Kitchen Follies, which will be a performance art variety show with most of the acts using live mixed video in different ways.
Working with live video has been a great adventure for me and has influenced my non-live work in many ways.