Dave Ghilarducci, an “interactive artist,” calls upon the viewer to partake in conversations with his machines. Despite his awareness of society’s downfalls (instant gratification, constant surveillance), he remains an optimist, at least sort of. In order to understand what that means, you’ll have to hear his unique answer to the question, “Is the glass half full or half empty?” We checked in with Interactive Artist Dave Ghilarducci to see what he’s been up to since his segment aired in 2013. Short answer? A LOT. Including a 4600 square foot sculpture at the Fleet Science Center.
First, watch the segment that first appeared on Art Pulse TV, and then read Dave’s Q&A with our Executive Producer Barbarella Fokos below.
CREDITS: Producer, Barbarella Fokos; Director of Photography David Fokos; Videography Remel Gumabon; Editing Remel Gumabon; Music: Yiourgh by DoKashiteru and Static by Darkroom
BF: Can you give us an update on you and your work?
DG: My most recent show was a completely new type of work for me. It was interactive and an immersive environment. Using literally miles of tape and a lot of scaffolding, I worked with the team at the Fleet Science Center and made a 4600 square foot tape sculpture that you could walk around in. While you were in the sculpture, you could experience different mathematical shapes from the inside of them. It was fun and educational. The response was better than I could have imagined. While making the piece, I had tremendous local support and volunteers came out to help along with most of the Fleet staff. There was the friendships that formed and then the response to the piece that made it one of my favorite projects ever.
BF: What sorts of lessons did people learn from your sculpture?
DG: The piece blends a lot of abstract mathematical concepts. The goal was to demonstrate topology, which is the study of properties of shapes. In that piece we had toroids, familiar to all as a donut like shape, something funny called a pair of pants and a minimal surface, called a schwarz p surface. I believe we are capable of complex math natively, think about following a ball through the air to catch it, that’s you doing math, instinctively. So moving through these shapes, generates some familiarity with the object and concept. We also placed informational placards throughout the piece to reinforce the learning of it.
BF: That’s an insane size, 4600 sq. ft. Any fun, behind the scenes stories of getting it erected?
DF: Well, there’s plenty of stories, but they are oddly all good ones. The people at the Fleet are some of the nicest people I have ever worked with. To that point, the CEO of the Fleet spent hours with us, taping in the sculpture. To me, that’s the best kind of leader. We had two weeks to do the install and the enormity of the project never set in until we started taping. The scaffolding went in really well and was quick, but once we started taping, we really had to hustle. We also had a lot of really fun volunteers and learned a lot about each other while we taping. I think for a while all of us heard the sound of peeling tape in our dreams. After all that time together we were still really happy to work together, so for me, that’s a success.
BF: Have any viewer reactions/interactions surprised you?
DG: I think for a lot of my work, I normally try to think of most responses, so I can have the piece account for it. Lately, I have been doing a better job of letting go and letting some of the organic nature of interaction come along. I also am experimenting with how little I can have the piece do and still engage the viewer. A piece I did at Art Produce this summer, had movement, but very intermittent and very subtle. I really enjoyed watching people notice the movement and then work to see it move again. Or do nothing and walk away when it didn’t immediately respond to them.
BF: When we were in your studio, you were preparing for an exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art. How did that go? What was the feedback to your piece with the moving eyes, about surveillance?
DG: It was part of a larger one night show called “Art After Dark,” and the premise was to invoke something spooky. Where it was placed was in a high traffic area, which actually may have made it less noticeable, since most people were moving past each other. Those who did notice it liked it. But they may not have noticed that they were actually on a surveillance camera, because they had to be spaced apart a bit. I’d like to put it in a quieter location and have it update to the web so people could log in and then add the anonymity of the internet to it.
BF: In the clip, you said you believe in people. How are you feeling about people and society in general these days? How has this affected your work?
DG: I feel the same as I always have. I do feel that there is some media bias in pitting us against each other on the basis of any number of criteria. However that is the “they” world. In the real world, when we all interact with each other, the human side comes through and we treat each other well, typically. I think that in my work, I try to encourage that interaction, because once you know others, you tend to consider them.
BF: Who do you mean by “they?”
DG: I’m using they as we tend to dismissively use it. Whenever one doesn’t know the source or can’t explain the source, our language usually says “they”. For example, “They say you shouldn’t swim after eating”. Who is this they? I don’t think anyone knows. So I am referring to the unknown people in the media as the “they”. The media has become it’s own news source and positions stories in a way to sensationalize them. They probably have to, because now the competition is so great, but the effect can be one of derision.
BF: Has the type of work you’re doing changed at all?
DG: I don’t think it has, because I truly apply whatever media to what I want to say. My last three works for shows have been only related by the hands that made them, one was tape, the other electronics and motors, and the last, bronze bunnies. I’m actually working on drawings right now for a retro cartoon machine.
BF: What is on the horizon for you? What are you working on now? Next shows?
DG: I haven’t scheduled anything for the rest of the year. I’m working on a couple ideas and one of them I actually don’t know how to make. So, that’s going to consume me until I figure it out.