Gardens of Negotiation

Mirosław Rogala (PL/US)
media opera – the overture / multimedia interactive – non-interactive installation, 2015


Harvested apples, the Brooklyn Bridge and the city of Istanbul all contribute imagery to a portrayal of contemporary Eden, of the crossing of bridges, and the direction in which civilization is heading. Rogala references this slow historical process using visual allegories. These range from Judeo-Christian mythology, when man subjugated himself to the earth, through a symbolic journey into New York’s cosmopolitanism, to the mourning of loss of individual cultural identities via the hybrid acceptance of foreign cultural pattern.

“Gardens of Negotiation” grows out of Miroslaw Rogala’s previous preoccupation (as in “Nature Is Leaving Us”, 1989) with the encroachment on the natural world by urbanization and digitization. Its process of creation began with the simple, archetypal image of an apple, which the artist digitally transformed to enlarge some parts of the image and reduce others, reverse the center and periphery of the image, and create changes in shape and perspective. Animating these images so that the changes and shifts occur over time, he later added other images, some of them transformed in a comparable way, others left less processed. Thus, images of the Berlin Wall, for example, begin to seem organic and biological, while images of the apple, on the other hand, become massive and architectural. Using monumental, four-screen projection, “Gardens of Negotiation” inverts (and negotiates between) our usual perceptions of what is inanimate and what is sentient, what is permanent and what is subject to decay. Rogala’s audio collaborator on this project, hyperrealist composer Noah Creshevsky, works in a parallel way to create new sounds and patterns out of appropriated musical materials.

Miroslaw Rogala was born in Kazimierza Wielka, Poland, in 1954. After earning degrees in music and M.F.A. in painting at the ASP/ Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, he immigrated to the United States in 1979, where he earned an M.F.A. degree in video from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work from the 1980s pioneered in the use of multiple synchronized video screens, and also experimented with combining video with live performance in “Macbeth: The Witches Scenes” and his Video Opera : “Nature Is Leaving Us”. Media historians have cited  “Lovers Leap” (1995) as a milestone in the development of interactive video installation art. “e-Garden” (1996), one of the first in the world, a public interactive free-speech sound installation, was followed by an academic study of public interactive art for a Ph.D. degree from the University of Wales under prof. Roy Ascott. Dr. Rogala’s recent work has involved post-photographic transformation and animation through custom designed 360 degrees software of landscape, cityscape, and still-life imagery.

Read an essay “On Gardens of Negotiation” by George Lellis

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