I design experiences for people in context with technology — from product design to visual art and new media
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VUCHNICH DESIGN

I design experiences for people in context with technology — from product design to visual art and new media.




Harvard Museum of Natural Sciences Climate Change Exhibit

(Opening Spring 2022):


Using Code Art and Generative Design to Reanimate
Thoreau’s Digitized Herbarium

In this short POC forest floor data visualization I’ve aggregated the plant specimens via Processing (an electronic arts programming language). The exhibit also features liquid augmented reality bloom animations, soundscapes, and transitions that follow actual plant data trends.

I’m currently collaborating with Leah Sobsey, Dr. Emily Meineke, and Dr. Marsha Gordon in the development of a mutlimedia installation that leverages Henry David Thoreau’s pressed plant specimens, housed at Harvard University’s Herbaria. Thoreau’s collection is a botanical time machine that lives in combination with the naturalist’s extensive notes about when and where his specimens were collected, which our installation draws from to provide insight into environmental change.

In “Exploring Thoreau’s Woods,” digitized selections of Thoreau’s pressed plants will literally come to life off of the page through motion art, data visualization, soundscapes, and projected augmented reality experiences. The centerpiece will be the projection of photographic images from Thoreau’s collection onto liquids (evoca-tive of Walden Pond), fabric, and onto what we envision as a forest floor inside of a large-scale meditation tent that visitors will experience.  

Mark
FEATURED WORK:

All the Possibilities... Reflections on a Painting by Vernon Pratt


I recently designed the titles and animation for the award-winning documentary All The Possibilities. For so many reasons this was a dream project. The incredible artwork and footage, the artist’s handwritten notes and journals, the video assets, and the stellar musical composition by Rich Holly made the direction on the animation a no-brainer in many ways. It’s made its way into dozens of national and international film festivals winning Best Short Doc at both the San Francisco Indie Fest and the Longleaf Film Festival.

The 16-minute documentary explores Durham-NC based artist Vernon Pratt’s most ambitious painting, ALL THE POSSIBILITIES OF FILLING IN SIXTEENTHS (65,536), which the artist completed between 1980 and 1982.  The painting was exhibited for the first time in 2018 at the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at North Carolina State University, where all 256 panels consisting of 65,536 painted squares were hung floor to ceiling on three walls in a single gallery space. 


Co-Directed by Marsha Gordon + Louis Cherry
Edited by Kevin Wells with music by Rich Holly

Mark

FEATURED WORK:

Escape From Hot Earth


I’m really excited to have 12 images from my series Escape from Hot Earth appearing in the Summer, 2020 issue of The Southern Indiana Review. This is a series of digital collage and mixed media images exploring a mythological visual narrative that imagines a dystopian earth on fire and the intervention of divine feminine energy as the restorer of balance, nature, and spirit. Images in the series touch on themes of climate change, the dangerous complacency of a “thoughts and prayers” culture, self-reflection, and escapism, through a surrealist and sci-fi lens.




In these images, familiar archetypes offer prayers, worry, and tears while the world continues to burn around them. A  powerful figure is embodied by an astronaut suited version of Sekhmet, the Egyptian goddess of the sun, war, destruction, plagues and healing. She arrives to intervene and usher the last children on earth to safety. These children, now sainted and supernaturally protected by botanical armor, are spirited away to inhabit another planet that is lush, beautiful, and unspoiled by systemic racism, violence, and environmental catastrophe.

Any mythology offers clues about the aspirations of the storyteller and audience as situated in a particular society, place, and time. I hope to create images that move people and that promote empathy and a sense of urgency at a time of environmental and social crisis. This is a time for radical intervention, imagination, creativity, and action. I hope these images depict visions of equity in inheritance of the future, freedom from brutality for Black Americans, and leaving future generations with a world that isn’t toxic for them on every level. 


Many of these images leverage digitized versions of Henry David Thoreau’s pressed plant specimens. These specimens are being studied to understand how climate change has effected their decline. Thank you to the Harvard University Herbaria for making digitizations of Thoreau's herbarium specimens public domain so that they can be featured in art as prominently as they have been in science.

Notes from June 2020: As I interrogate my own privilege and look with more criticality every day at my level of action on the very crises I am creating work about, I realize it’s important for me to address the problematic nature of white artists' portrayal of Black experience in a way that assumes knowledge of lived-experience — that white artists simply do not possess — or alternatively, in a way that dismisses it completely. I am aware of this critical discourse and have tried to avoid those mistakes while also not engaging in cowardly and racist “opt-out” tactics and its accompanying omission of Black people from the artist’s view (of the future in this case) and line of vision. This omission happens selfishly for the sake of avoiding correction and embarrassment over possible misstep and also compassionately for the sake of not doing harm. But both do harm in their silence and avoidance. While I have not had negative feedback about this work, and  I hope the works’ intent is successfully transmitted, I also realize intent does not cancel out any viewers’ experience of it. Let me know. It’s critical for white artists to actively address systemic racism. We should name it rather than passively suggest it, deal in humility and respectfulness, accept criticism, and be ready and willing to pivot if we hear we are doing it wrong.

Mark

OMAi Projection Mapping at the North Carolina Museum of Art



In 2018 I participated as the featured artist for an interactive projection mapping performance with OMAi  as part of the You Are Here exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art. I collaborated with OMAi app developers and Cirque de Vol acrobats to create a live performance of visual art, sound, and motion. This large scale projection covered the West wall of the museum and featured live animations and images from my Escape from Hot Earth series. Several artists participated in the nights programming and the audience was also invited participate in interactive painting sessions, applying their own improvised drawings, messages and virtual grafitti during the event.

I was fortunate to collaborate with OMAi again in 2018 when they returned to Raleigh for their residency with Raleigh Arts. The St. Agnes Sessions were created to activate and bring wider community visibility to the historic St. Agnes Hospital. The OMAi team was kind enough to host a workshop with my students at NCSU, demonstrating their tagtool app, and inviting us to create a live piece for the hospital one very cold night in November!

©2020 Robin Vuchnich / all rights reserved I design experiences for people in context with technology — from product design to visual art and new media.