Craig Coleman & XVAC Bring Guerilla Video to Macon

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Mercer students working on their XVAC project, Sweet Dreams of Spring, which was projected in Macon's Tattnall Square Park this past April.
Mercer students working on their XVAC project, Sweet Dreams of Spring, which was projected in Macon’s Tattnall Square Park this past April.

Guerrilla art-fare, interdisciplinary collaboration, and audience interaction: this is what professor Craig Coleman of Mercer University in Macon envisions as the next steps for the Experimental Video Art in the Corridor (XVAC).
The XVAC project, which came into being as a result of Coleman receiving a Knight Neighborhood Challenge Grant to purchase a six-projector video mapping system to be used in Macon’s Tattnall Square Park, focuses its efforts on experimental film and projection.
“I feel like we’ve had success in grabbing people’s attention and breaking them out of their normal, everyday routine, and seeing something a little bit different,” said Coleman. “We’re not doing stories and acted scripts. We’re doing other things, anything from juxtaposition of images that are provocative or thought provoking in some way to just abstractions that maybe reference more of the digital world or things about the surface that we’re projecting on.”
Through XVAC, Coleman acts as both an instructor and a software engineer, teaching his students how to use video projection equipment and software so that they can create their own material, most of which is site-specific.
Since the inception of the project, Coleman’s intro digital imaging class has held a projection event in Tattnall Square Park every spring semester. In the fall, Coleman’s digital photography and drawing classes will produce more animation-centric and straight DSLR video pieces, and showcase them in the park as well. Coleman and his students have also been involved with happenings in the College Hill Corridor, the Macon Film Festival, and the Knight Foundation Celebration.
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A young audience member interacts with the video projection.

XVAC has been able to include the work of visiting artists, such as Jerry Habarth, who projected a piece onto the Bell House (now home to the university’s McDuffie Center for Strings) in downtown Macon. Coleman hopes that he can expand on this aspect of the project and is currently in conversation with artists in Atlanta, Tampa, and Colorado.
Now that the project is established and the equipment and software are in place, the “guerrilla” aspect of projecting onto a building, monument, or statue at an unannounced time can come into play. Coleman hopes to approach future screenings as a temporary art installation, where whoever happens to be there sees it, and therefore arrives to the work without any preconceived expectations attached to their viewing experience.
Coleman also wants the audience to play a more active role in the screenings. “One area that I’d like XVAC to go towards is for audience interaction, where the audience could somehow interact with the equipment and then change what is being projected,” Coleman said, “I think a lot of artwork that is done with light is entertaining because light has the ability to pull people in and attract their attention and get them interested; it has seductive qualities about it. Although there are limitations in terms of the technology, through collaboration with such departments as computer science and engineering, he thinks that this can eventually become a reality.
On October 15, 5-7 pm, at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Coleman and his students will be projecting some their work on the building facade during the opening for “Science on a Sphere.” As Coleman is currently a visiting artist at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, these projections will not only feature student XVAC pieces, but some of his original work as well. 
Anna Mae Kersey is a journalist and academic writer who loves all things arts and culture. She recently graduated from Mercer University with an Honors B.A. in philosophy, and is now pursuing a Master’s of Liberal Arts at St. John’s College in Santa Fe. 
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Craig Coleman projecting video onto a storefront in Downtown Macon.

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This article was made possible with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of an arts journalism partnership between BURNAWAY and Macon Arts Alliance.

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