Reflections on Youth Spectacle, collaboration, construction, and Zoetrope
May 29, 2012
Our goal with Youth Spectacle 2012 was to initiate and coordinate the art of 650 young people, over 9 months, from 7 schools, and various lengths of time, and present their work in a carefully curated and artistically intelligent manner. The effort is distinctive in its capacity for engagement. The work of youth collides with the work of professional artists, which collides with the work of emerging artists, who all combine ideas into one exceptional experience for the public.
The Youth Spectacle event represents one piece of what Redmoon does best: collaboration. Almost unknowingly to the viewer, the final product of the Youth Spectacle was born out of elaborate and meaningful partnerships. The whole effort was driving towards making young voices prominent, and the process was just as integral as the final presentation. An example of the process: 12 elementary and high school students articulated commitments to art instructor Tria Smith. Nikki Zaleski, program coordinator, then materialized these commitments into recordings. Jim Jenkins, professional sculptor, then responded to that work to create sculptural objects. Andy Sickle, audio engineer, generated the youth commitments into soundscapes with 6 students from Columbia College. Together those 12+4+6, many of whom never met each other, created a sculptural sonic experience for an audience, all facilitated by Redmoon. Several instances of this kind of hybrid creation took place at Youth Spectacle—from performance, to giant banners, to miniature light boxes, to a sprawling framed tree.
Redmoon’s additional contribution to Youth Spectacle’s sculptural ephemera was the engineering feat of an enormous Zoetrope. Inspired by the historic table top device, our Zoetrope spins, creating the illusion of an animated scene when its interior is looked upon through a peep hole. However, ours is 10 feet tall, made of steel, and spun by a motor. There were no instructions or handbook in creating the large machine. Its strengths and weaknesses can only be understood by bringing it into the universe. Like the audience, in many ways we are engaging it for the first time. Working on limited time and resources, it was our big exercise in making a sculptural experience. What orbits the object is its success: that it has been touched by the hands of over 100 artists, engineers, designers, and painters both professional and emerging. The Zoetrope is thematically rooted in Redmoon in that it takes cartoon and realizes it in a living form. Cartoon, at its core, is celebration. Redmoon, at its core, is celebration. The Youth Spectacle 2012 illustrates that and more—a great expression of 22 years of core practices and beliefs. The event represents our unique ability to go into the world, meet diverse people, share tools which invite them to express themselves dynamically, and then place that expression on a platform in an important location. The practice of the Youth Spectacle intends to make deep, honest contact with human beings and engage substantial inquiries, both personally and globally. It allows a varied group of people to respond to a shared idea and create something exceptional and bigger than themselves.