‘Purported to be Dark’ lights up Black Box theater at South

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The intersection of the unknown and the scientific is the focus of the collaborative works by artists Matthew Weedman and Annie Strader currently on display until March 28 as part of the Purported to be Dark art installation in the Black Box Theater at San Jacinto College South Campus.

According to Strader, Purported to be Dark takes from the artists’ research into the history of the connections between early twentieth century technology, modern spiritualism, cartography, and magic.

“The phrase ‘science of the soul’ was developed by turn of the century scientists attempting to understand the soul through scientific inquiry and then map its location to the material world,” Strader said. “This new installation work roots out of an interest in these, and similar attempts to build relationships with things we cannot see or define through scientific method and reason.”

Martin Wnuk, an art professor at South campus said the purpose of the event is to introduce San Jac students, faculty and staff to high-quality installation art.

“Matthew is a photographer and Annie is a performance artist. They have come together to create an installation consisting of sound, organic material and constructed materials,” Wnuk said.

According to South campus Department Chair of Visual and Performing arts Christina Potts this installation is unique in that, “it will change throughout the month it is on view.”

“The once living Holly trees will start to dry up and die,” Potts said. “Leaves and berries will likely fall from the upside down trees creating patterns on the floor.”

Furthermore, Potts said even the mechanical elements change to complement their living counterparts.

“The buzzing crackling soundtrack hints at these subtle changes that are taking place in this created environment. Moving through the space, and around the objects, gives participants the opportunity to experience a topsy-turvy Alice-in-Wonderland-like world,” Potts said.

Meanwhile, South campus dance professor Diane Bedford, along with her students lent their talents to the collaboration by performing “improvisational dance around the installation to mimic, through movement, the qualities and characteristics they found to be present in the installation,” Bedford said.

“The collaboration was a successful venture that layered visual art with the art of movement and hopefully brought a multi-layered perspective to the viewers of the installation,” she said.

Weedman and Strader are part of the art faculty at Sam Houston State University, but they stage their work at different venues around the country.

“We hope people are curious about the work, spend time in the installation, and have their own experience of it to make associations with their own lives and understandings,” Stader said. “We don’t think anyone will have the same experience of the installation, and that is part of what we are interested in.”