My video projection “So Many of Us” creates two circular lenses on the screen. One lens shows moments of nature in brief, unedited clips that capture abstract or surreal moments. The other lens starts with drawings of spokes, or stars, appearing on the screen. These individual elements are then, over time, all connected via hand-drawn stop-motion animation. Once connected, they are then disconnected (i.e. the animation plays in reverse) and the process starts over again.
The video speaks to our interconnectedness and the fragility of both us individually and as a group. It creates an experiential effect rather than a narrative one such that a viewer can come at any point in playing and will have an engagement such that they can spend sixty seconds or six minutes with and fall into the universe that the video creates. The video references science, systems, and our connections in an infinite loop.
The animated lens is made from a drawing that is photographed as it is created, pausing for every centimeter or so of line. These photographs are then assembled into an animation, and digitally edited. A lens is created to bound the looping animation, like a microscope or a telescope. As the video progresses, the white background seen through the lens gradually becomes darker and the black background outside the lens becomes lighter, until for a brief moment everything is the same shade of grey and nothing is visible. The progression continues until the dark and light have flipped, and then reverse and continue this process. This effect references astronomy, duality, and mirroring.
The nature video lens is constructed from clipped together moments of travels across America, with tight zooms or camera pointed skyward, where the camera is stationary but the world around us is emphasizing its abstraction and propensity for change.
Or maybe the circular masks stand in for an eye’s vision. I am fascinated by optics and the idea that whether through myopia, synaesthesia, color blindness, tetrachromacy, or simply a different perspective we all see a variety of things.
As Michelle Aldredge writes, “While some art heightens our sense of reality, Corwin Levi’s . . . opens the door to the unknown. Levi eschews horizons in favor of submersion. The effect? We drown in stars . . . . Place and time remain mysterious. [His art] evokes maps and star charts, but there are no legends or grids. There is no compass rose to help us orient ourselves. Lines, resembling roads, lead nowhere. . . . [It creates] a unique experience, one that embraces mystery over answers.”
In experiencing and investigating the world around us, I am also interested in different structures and the ancient alchemical expression “as above, so below”—which suggests things on a universal scale are similar to those on a microscopic scale. The phrase originates with alchemists from thousands of years ago and stands in for the idea that whether we are looking at the universe above, our planet below, our bodies, or the world we see under a microscope, these are all reflections of the same type of system or whole.
About the artist: Corwin Levi is a mixed-media artist, curator, illustrator, arts writer, and attorney who investigates the limits of vision, experience, and memory by constructing maps of the unknown. He has had solo shows, participated in group shows, and curated exhibits across the country. Levi has attended over twenty different artist residencies, including the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program, Ucross Foundation for the Arts, the Millay Colony, and the Wurlitzer Foundation. He has also created public art, including a 175-foot-long mural in North Adams, Massachusetts, across from MASS MoCA. Levi has a BA from Rice University, an MFA from the Tyler School of Art, and a JD from the University of Virginia. Based in Harrisville, New Hampshire, he is a partner at the design firm Gwarlingo Studio, and draws inspiration from his travels—having lived in in eighteen cities in twelve states.