Geoffrey Alan Rhodes, MFA Media Study '05

Geoffrey Alan Rhodes.

As an artist, Alan works with film, video, 3-D virtual work, performance essay and multi-media books. His work inspects the line between the cinematic and the actual, the photo and the moving image, the narrative and the durational, the performative and the structural. One of his works is 52 Card Cinema, an installation-based investigation into cinematic structures and interactive cinema viewership. The concept is simple: 52 cards, each printed with a unique identifier, are replaced in the subject’s view by the individual shots that make up a movie scene. The cards can be stacked, dealt, arranged in their original order or re-composed in different configurations, creating spreads of time.

Alan moved to Buffalo in 2002 as one of the first MFA students in the Department of Media Study (DMS). Moving from an independent film community in Seattle, Rhodes quickly embraced the thriving avant-garde video community at UB which offered strong connections to the local gallery scene. Looking back at his time as a graduate student, Alan mentions he found himself pushed into new creative directions. Besides learning about the structuralist film and post structuralist media movements, having a media study perspective helped give him new ways of thinking about technology and art, something that has stayed with him since his days at DMS.

For his thesis project, Alan wrote, directed and edited a short 35mm featurette: Tesseract. Using split screens and a photographic layout, he fractures the perspective of time, and the narrative of Eadweard Muybridge’s obsession with photographing movement and his act of jealous murder in 1873.

Alan currently works as Assistant Professor in the Department of Visual Communication and Culture at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. As a new member of the tenure-track faculty, he oversees the development of the 4D Moving Image Design curriculum. Recently he was awarded a Provost’s Learning Innovation Award to develop a new cross-disciplinary course: New Screens New Media, which provides a praxis-oriented survey of new cinematic media for an interdisciplinary group of advanced students from the schools of Film, Photo, Design, and Computer Science.

Prior to SAIC, Alan earned his PhD in Communication and Culture with Specialties in New Media Formations at York University in Toronto where he started up an Augmented Reality Lab. He also taught in the Live Action Filmmaking Program at the School of Film & Animation at the Rochester Institute of Technology from 2008-2011.

For Alan, the in-between space within disciplines has been a good place to be. When he began teaching at SAIC, the school wanted to create some new curriculum around new media in the context of visual communication. While searching through their old course catalogues from 1968-1970, Alan discovered this cross-disciplinary approach existed then. “The sculpture department would do Super-8 and video, so would the design department and other departments. Because of the old Portapak videos and the independent video scene, it wasn’t really clear what that was going to do with the disciplines but it was knocking down walls and everyone was trying to negotiate that. It’s now very true with what we thought was just websites -it’s become media itself with all the forms…I think trying to inhabit this in-between space is quite useful as far as navigating both technology and institutions.”

His current art gallery work plays with the boundaries between photo, film, and installation, and has been exhibited recently at the International Society for Electronic Arts, the European Media Arts Festival, Media Art Friesland, the Moscow International Film Festival, and the Chelsea Museum of Art in New York among others.

In his film collaboration with Steven Eastwood, Alan moves in-between the space of fictional and non-fictional worlds in Buried Land (2010). Using factual encounters, real interviews, staged situations and scripted scenes, Buried Land is a fictional film set in a real community shot in in the Valleys of the Pyramids in Bosnia.

At present Alan is working on a project on the subject of the future of the museum in Korea which continues his original card based mapping video onto objects. He’s also building custom apps for different projects around this idea of creating virtual content that appears in real place. Another project is for the Sacramento Arts Council where Alan is working on an exhibition with ten artists that are each creating works, and those works will be interpreted into 3-d models which will be installed virtually, along the Broadway Corridor by the gallery, which people will view with an app that he is designing for it.“It’s interesting because it’s really based off this idea of public sculpture and there’s even this possibility that the ones that are successful with people looking at them on their phone, will then maybe commissioned actually to be built physically.”

Alan’s other big project is more independent and involves the writing of a true multi-media book which was once this dream of the CD-Rom. One of his inspirations for this project is Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics from 1992. By taking this idea of creating a comic book that talks about the language of comic books, Alan aims to create a new media book that talks about new media in the form of a presentation using interactivity with a tablet computer, video, animation, text and audio.

Check out his work on his website:

52 CARD CINEMA, a series of Augmented Reality installations:

Buried Land (2010), a feature film collaboration with Prof. Steven Eastwood.

And a writeup of his current Electronic Publication course:

One of his AR on AR presentations: