Transylvania University's Morlan Gallery is usually a space well lit to highlight its walls. But with Waves and Currents, the lights are the exhibit, projecting images of water onto surfaces that we rarely associate with video.
Georgie Friedman's Dark Swell plays on fabric stretched over a wave-like frame on one side of the gallery. The footage is real water filmed by Friedman, accompanied by a soundtrack echoing the sounds we hear when we are submerged.
When asked whether a visitor could walk through the structure, Morlan Gallery director Andrea Fisher said, "You're supposed to."
Fisher says she can see the piece as "ominous or sublime."
"It's almost like you're in the wave," she said, "and you get the idea of the power of Mother Nature and man's smallness. I can see how people who have had the experience of being pulled under the water might be uncomfortable with this."
Across the room is an entirely different piece in Lenka Novakova's River.
A video plays across 36 cones, each composed of nearly 100 fiber-optic threads, meticulously lined up in a large corner of the gallery. The light constantly changing as the visitor walks through them.
"To see video artists using the technological tools of their trade was really impressive," says Fisher, who estimates that installation of the two pieces took about 56 hours over four days. "It's deceptively simple-looking."
Indeed, Dark Swell appears as a smooth projection over a seamless surface. But Fisher says hours went into building the surfaces and positioning the projectors to achieve the desired effects.
The effort goes into achieving something entirely different and striking from a medium we see every day, Fisher says.
"It makes it challenging to make work that holds its own in a gallery space," Fisher says. "We are bombarded with video images everywhere, so the challenge is to make something entirely different from what you would see on a hand-held device.
"Both of these works achieve that."
Fisher says she encountered each of the artists separately and thought they would complement each other well in the exhibit, whose subtitle is An Exploration of Sound, Light and Time. The exhibit itself is designed to be a companion with Transylvania's third annual Studio 300: Digital Arts and Music Festival, Oct. 4 and 5.
That puts the focus on new methods of creating art, but as Fisher says, some of the elements stay the same.
"All artists over time are dealing with light and how light works," Fisher says. "Video art just takes that to a whole new plane."
IF YOU GO
'Waves and Currents: An Exploration of Sound, Light and Time'
What: Exhibition of video installations by Georgie Friedman and Lenka Novakova.
When: Through Oct. 11. Regular gallery hours: noon-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
Where: Transylvania University Morlan Gallery, in Mitchell Fine Arts Building on the campus.
Learn more: (859) 233-8142, www.transy.edu/morlan
■ Gallery Hop, 5-8 p.m. Sept. 20. Galleryhoplex.com.
■ Studio 300: Digital Arts and Music Festival, Oct. 4-5. www.transy.edu/music/STUDIO_300.