Yellow Springs, Ohio
Michael Casselli has been interested in the hybridization of forms and media since he received his undergraduate degree in Visual Arts/Performance theory from Antioch College in 1987. While at the college, he staged large-scale outdoor mixed media performance installations, whose primary focus was an attempt to clarify issues of sense-based perception and the physicality inherent in performative work. After Antioch, he was accepted into the Masters Program in Sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
While at RISD his worked started to move away from the performative context, while maintaining a vested interest in sense of physicality, choosing to focus on the role that the spectator plays as a necessary figurative element of a completed work. It was at RSID that he started to define the contextual framework through which his work was to be experienced. By eliminating physical boundaries between the viewer and the work, he provided the spectator with a choice as to how they would interact with it.
While these concerns still remain active in the work he produces today, his vocabulary has expanded to include more subtle ways of asking the same questions, and has allowed him to consider a broader palate of contemporary media in the creation of his work, utilizing video, robotics, and home grown technologies. Michael spent twenty years in New York City within the underground art and performance scene, fully integrating his early concerns with performance and the visual arts. While continuing to create large-scale installations, he found himself able to apply many of the same concerns within the performance arena, creating scenic and video design for dance and theater, earning him a Bessie Award for Scenic Design in 1987. Michael relocated to Yellow Springs in 2009 to establish the Manic Design Studio, a place for hybrid experimentation in all media.
To see more of Michael’s work, please visit www.michaelcasselli.com
My interests are multi faceted, and the work I will be presenting is an amalgamation of work that has developed out of my direct relationship to the Blue Sky residency. This work manifests itself from a conceptual link to the project and the range of responses can be seen as a reaction to past experience as well as a reordering of my relationship to the project as it exists this year. I will be showing three projects in two separate spaces, each project engaging a specific presentational mode and media. “I can only speak in silence” is comprised of large photographic portraits on handmade paper, and each portrait is taken from video still of the group of youth that I worked with two years ago with Blue Sky. “Single point of reference” is a new work in progress whose materials include Arbor Vitae, rope and bamboo and will be presented in conjunction with the new photographs. The piece describes my fascination with the physical gesture. That an uninterrupted line, with its relationship to the act of drawing, can create context in its singularity allows me to let go of the inclination to layer meaning when none is needed. I lived with the physicality created by the presence of this object, allowing the experience of my day to day relationship to it to become unencumbered, in a sense letting the object speak for itself. The act of relinquishing control and relying on the power of the image to support itself opens my practice up to considerations that have, in the past, caused me to second guess the underlying strength contained in the simple act of choosing.”Slackwire” utilizes a high voltage plasma arc travelling across multiple strands of music wire suspended above the viewer’s head, out of reach but fully present within the space. This work evolved out of an interest of mine that is present in almost all of my work. At once threatening and hypnotic, “Slackwire” asks the viewer to consider the space they inhabit and how an imposition into this space affects them physically; how this act of interference starts to skew their metaphorical construct of personal boundary. By questioning the comfort one feels with regards to space, I am attempting to enlarge the discussion and question their relationship to their desires, their willingness to forgo self-regulatory behaviors in order to possess an object or experience that suddenly attracts them, like a moth to a flame. I welcome this exposure and the support from the Blue Sky Project that will make all of this possible and look forward to the final exhibition in September.