Michael Arrigo gave an inspiring talk to Troy art students about his evolution as an artist at his reception at the Malone Hall Gallery on Sept. 19.
Arrigo is an art professor at Bowling Green State University. The reception was the closing act for the exhibition of his artwork, the “Sirens’ Song,” which was installed at Malone, on Aug. 12.
The “Sirens’ Song” is Arrigo’s second video installation. Although Arrigo makes use of modern video technology, he is more interested in how technology impacts the ways we think and perceive than in the medium itself.
At the reception, Arrigo displayed his previous paintings and talked about life as an artist after school. He told his story of coming to the arts.
Originally a physics major, Arrigo took an introductory art class as a general study course.
“I was shocked at how I cared,” he said.
Arrigo is impressed by how everything, especially science, connects to the arts. In his time as an artist, he has developed a commitment to applying physics to creative works. He said he loves to use the technical skills of his hands to emotionally feel the artist’s way and rationally make it happen.
However, after he started a family, Arrigo fundamentally changed his perspective, and in turn his art, due to his children’s attraction to images. He said he made a point of observing the children’s exploration in their daily life. He carries a camera around to keep records of those small but significant details. Arrigo attributed his venture from plaiting to other types of material to his children’s influence.
Arrigo also talked about the “500 mili-second delay.” He explained how consciousness, which functions through language, is a “low-bandwidth” channel compared to the immediate, unconscious experience.
“That’s why children learn more through playing,” he said.
Arrigo came to the video medium because of an interest in how people think about images.
Arrigo spoke about his experiments with two “opposite, extreme paradigms” of video. He said people want to be immerged, to become one with the experience.
“Everything we see is just patterns of lights and everything else is made up [in our head],” Arrigo said. “In a certain way, everything we do is a self-portrait…Everything is first person narrative… We are the cameras. The way we reconstruct memories inflates our importance in relation with the world.”