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Anaitté Vaccaro's Digital Scenography
By Donna Letterese
Anaitté Vaccaro is a pioneer in the world of digital art. A lifelong creator, she has been creating genre-bending work for over 15 years, while satisfying many clients with her unique vision. Anaitté recently sat down with In Hollywood to describe her unique works of art and explain exactly what Digital Scenography is.
What artists were you influenced by?
The surrealist movement was a major inspiration. Dali influenced me, but I was in awe of the entire movement. In literature, I loved the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Music also inspires me. I think Phillip Glass's work is beautiful, and I listen to everything from Salsa, to electronica, to classical.
When did you begin working as an artist?
I'd been creating art my whole life when I decided to study it in college. Friends and family were initially worried - but I had a lot of support, especially from my Mom. Her supporting my decisions kept me going. I got some scholarships, and then began a series of storyboard-like paintings.
I knew I was professional when a gallery picked me up for my paintings and sold them. It was an organic process. In graduate school, I evolved towards wanting to enhance the viewer's experience. It's been an interesting path, creating work and being paid for it.
How would you define "Digital Scenography?"
Richard Wagner came up with the definition of "Scenography," which means "total work of art." "Digital scenography" was the term I coined to describe my MFA thesis at SCAD. I felt that the digital medium was the most powerful way to enhance the viewing experience. Realizing that my work could not be described by one specific term like for example - 'projectionist', 'set-designer', 'director', 'content creator', etc...it encompassed all of those techniques. By calling my work Digital Scenography that meant it was a total work of art with integration of the digital medium.
Since your craft is so multi-disciplinary and varied, what are some examples of the types of work you do?
If a client approaches me with a specific task, the work will depend on what they want, and where they want it (in other words, it may be a site-specific piece). For example, the Ritz Carlton wanted me to create something in their golf field. I found some trees that were clustered together, hung butterflies from them, and projected imagery that interacted with the wind. It became a digital wind chime for people to walk underneath and experience. In general, architectural installations are site-specific. The client may say, "We want the project built in this certain space, and with a tropical theme." I'll then create an interactive structure with those requirements in mind, for that space. My personal work often incorporates performance art.
Can you talk about the theatricality of your more personal pieces?
I sometimes use live dancers, or film them and project the footage. I consider choreographing a piece like "writing" it. These pieces are shown in theatres, galleries, or outdoors in plazas. I get hired commissioned to show this kind of work as an independent project. This past January 2014, I debuted a show I created, titled "Dwelling in Minutia," in New York City. In September 2014 I'm the featured artist for the Galven Fine Arts Center in Davenport, Iowa. I love being commissioned by clients, and I also welcome opportunities to show personal work when I'm asked to.
How would you describe your process?
It varies from project to project. I've created everything, from permanent installations, to performances, to theatre and interactive events. I approach each project differently. Sometimes, I draw with a traditional medium, scan it in, and animate it as part of a piece. Other pieces rely on nature, like the digital wind chime I talked about. It's hard to define as just one thing, but I'd say most of my Digital Scenography is "live and composited."
You recently finished a piece in Puerto Rico. How would you describe that work?
It's the piece I just finished for the Atlantic Casino at the new Hyatt Place Manatí. In Spanish, the tile of the piece means "Drop by drop." It's a light mural that covers three of the outside walls of the casino. Color washes give the illusion of ocean movement and custom made gobos compose the mural. It also has a pixel mapping piece that uses running video, giving it an added texture. Additionally, there is a full wall mural in the interior of the casino. Water was an integral part of the piece because beach culture is very important there; Mar Chiquita beach is nearby.
What would be your ultimate dream art work to create? And what are your future goals?
It would be great to create an interactive video game. I'd transform a warehouse into a space where you could come in and experience a video game as if you were inside it, with live characters and things happening around you. My ultimate dream is to finally produce the Digital Scenography touring show I've been developing for the past few years. It is a musical: entirely visual and sound enhanced, without dialogue, a fully digital scenographic narrative.
Speaking of narratives, do you think of a specific one per piece? Or do you find your work is more abstract?
I have specific narratives in my mind, which ultimately come out in a different way. My work is more like a moving painting than a literal story. Some of my pieces are darker, and some are funny-they run the gamut. Even when I was painting, I didn't want to impose an exact story on the viewer. I was inspired by messages, and wanted viewers to glean their own interpretations from what they saw in my works.
What are your thoughts on traditional versus digital media? Do you think the popularity of digital media will render traditional art obsolete?
No, I think all the digital media will simply enhance the traditional. One of the things I am trying to do is create digital media that's seen as fine art, which can be difficult. When something is online or stored in a hard drive, some people have trouble seeing it the same way they'd view an actual painting in a museum.
What do you think you've learned through your experiences?
Social media is very important. Creating great work isn't enough-think of that question, "If a tree falls in a forest, did it happen?" People need to put portfolios online, and to invite others to their shows. I'm also a big proponent of education.
Is education something you would encourage aspiring artists to obtain?
Yes, I think it's the most important thing in the world. Education makes you a well-rounded person, and gives you the discipline to finalize projects. When I got an MFA, I really appreciated the space it gave me to focus on the work I wanted to do. Whether an artist's education is through a Bachelor's, an MFA, or through practical experience, the most important thing is for him or her to create, and learn from the work of others. Education makes a country, and shapes a person. For following any dream, it's crucial-and there are luckily many different ways to learn.
Having completed the new permanent installation at the Hyatt Place Manatí in Puerto Rico, Anaitté will be the featured artist for the Galvin Fine Arts Center in Davenport, Iowa. To find out more about the artist's upcoming exhibitions and installations, and to see her Digital Scenography, please go to the following websites: http://www.anaitte.com, and, http://www.BoscajeIluminado.com.
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