The Waving of Foliage and the Coming and Going of Ships: Live Projections by Richard Torchia addresses the art of photography as it existed before the fixed image was invented. As Torchia says,
"I am more an architect than an artist. I create problems with the optics of photography which, in their solving, need the involvement of many people. And then, after the installations are in place, my art is not complete until the viewer interacts with it."
To see Richard Torchia's installations, it is important to slow down and observe things. Your eyes will need time to adapt to the dark environment. The exhibition provides opportunities for students to develop their skills of observation as they watch each piece evolve. The installations invite us to explore, as the artist makes visible phenomena that we normally would miss.
The unusual title of the exhibition
The exhibition's title The Waving of Foliage and the Coming and Going of Ships is taken from the nineteenth-century sign board (pictured below) for a public camera obscura projection in Bristol, England, that is still in operation and still as captivating to viewers today as when it was first installed. Referring to the live nature of that projected image, one that casts an inverted, true color, moving picture of the sunlit scene outside into a darkened space, Torchia transforms the traditional application of the technology using artificial light with his more manipulated and compelling projections.
A viewing challenge awaits those who visit Torchia's exhibition for, rather than being an exhibition of photographic prints, it is an installation that deals with light, time, motion, gravity, sequence, and in general, principles of perception. The projections on view are ephemeral and mysterious. They move, as if floating in space. They are live/real time images. Those who do not remember that photo means light and that graph means drawing might misunderstand the work, saying that it is not photographic, not permanent, and possibly not art. But those who understand that experiencing art leads to greater appreciation, insight, and awareness, those who enter the exhibition with open minds and patient eyes, will go away from the Center with a deeper understanding of the way we "see" the world around us. Students should be forewarned that the gallery spaces are dark and that viewing Torchia's artwork may take a little extra time, quietness, and thought. But the payoff is discovery, learning, and a very exciting and unique experience.
Descriptions of each of Torchia's installations are provided. Each is accompanied by suggested discussion topics or projects that address issues or principles presented by the artist. Some exercises also deal with the unusual nature of this exhibition. These exercises are meant to act as a springboard for further classroom activities.
The glossary defines photographic terms used here. These words are linked the first time they appear in the text.
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