Kevin Harris is the punctual, detail-oriented sort and so he doesn’t want to guess wrongly about the time that Octarrarium became a plan. In checking his cell phone, he can pin the birth to right about June of 2014. It was then that he and frequent collaborator Chad Eivens began to think about taking their large-scale video projections to another level, no easy feat considering some of the sharp work they’ve done together to date.
“We were always trying to to find new way to configure the screen,” says Harris. “With one long, flat plane, images can run side-to-side. But when you create with other geometries, the imagery can seem more three-dimensional. We were talking over possibilities and the ultimate would be doing a whole, 360-degree projection, where the visuals would be all around you. We finished our event, and a few days later I had the idea in my head of how it could be done. I drew it up in AutoCAD and modeled it into 3D. But it was pretty expensive and I don’t have any money…”
In came Rich O’Donnell, the famed percussionist and ringleader of the HEARding Cats Collective. What began as an idea was quickly gaining form.
“Rich is usually game to produce projects like this,” Harris says. “I told him I’d send him a series of drawings and documents and he was super-excited. ‘Let’s do this, let’s do it.’ We started looking for space for it, and this was quite a while ago. It doesn’t take a lot of planning; most of the work’s in the execution and building of the thing. We just needed to find a room that would be big enough, one that could accommodate performances, events and a permanent gallery installation. And that was almost impossible to find.”
As it turned out, the gallery at the Regional Arts Commission was the one place that wasn’t booked out three years in advance and could handle a full build-out of the eight-sided Octarrarium, each panel a 9-by-12 foot canvas for video art. Added into the mix, too, was a rich group of performers on both acoustic and electronic instruments, as well as spoken word and, yes, food. (Full list at the bottom of this entry.)
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