Dason Culver

Ember Engram

Immersive Storytelling Installation

Dason Culver

Santa Fe, NM, USA

Ember Engram is an immersive installation using sculptural elements, projected visuals, and ambient sound to create an enticing environment and captivating story for the participants of the Paseo Festival. This environment invites participants to engage in a theme around the deities, cryptids, or spirits of the southwest desert and how the storytelling around these beings is a universal connection experienced throughout cultures across the world. The title Ember Engram refers to the memories created and carried as one watches the rising embers of a fire.

In the dark of night, high on the mesa, a bustling campfire illuminates the circle of figures sitting around it. However, this campfire setting is not like any that you have experienced before. These fire-lit figures give form to the same stories one might have heard around their own campfires growing up in New Mexico. This is a fire built in the realm of spirits, and just as this gathering around the embers represents a meeting place of safety and story-telling for these mystic figures, it represents the same thing to the audience of the Paseo Festival.

While some of the spirit figures at this fire are abstract representations of what desert spirits could look like, others will have characteristics honoring that of historical and culturally significant mythic figures familiar to the lower region of the Rocky Mountains territory. Examples include the Anaye beings from Navajo tradition, Avanyu and Kokopelli from Tewa and Hopi traditions, and important animal characters like the Coyote, Raven, and Snake.

All of these figures and seats encircle the “fire” which is made of a 3D assembly of stylistically cut wood and plastic panels that are given a fire-like motion through the use of augmented visuals from nearby short-throw projectors. Various lighting and additional projectors are strategically placed facing the spirit figures to give them life and movement as well. The illusion of fire is further bolstered through ambient sounds and a smoke-like fog emitting from the pit. Visitors of the installation are encouraged to sit and enjoy the fire with these magical spirits, share stories with each other, and make memories under the stars and fading embers.

The Ember Engram installation will be in proximity and collaboration to Christina Sporrong’s towering Heron piece. These two installations will work in addendum to each other and create an environment that facilitates gathering and storytelling. The Heron will serve as its own entity, but also as a familiar guest to the ethereal campfire, inviting all to take part in the various performance aspects of the Heron while gathered around the other-worldly hearth environment.


Born and raised near the desert hills of Los Cerrillos, NM. Dason Culver was exposed to an environment that would determine forever impact his perception of the world. The area is rich in history and culture spanning back thousands of years. A geological wonderland, littered with ruins that give evidence to its long history. These surroundings growing up would lead to an extreme interest in the natural world and its relationship with the development of human-kind.

Although Dason grew up in a remote bubble of southwestern desert landscape, he was born in a generation that would see tremendous advances in technology and the rapid switch from an analog world to a digital one. These rapid shifts from tangible technologies to digital replications have inspired his work to say the least, and plays an active role in how he develops and creates projects, utilizing a mixture of digital tools with tactile results.

As a multi-media artist with a leaning focus towards Murals and Immersive Installations, Dason often create environments that revolve around ideas of challenging perceptions, questioning reality, and manifesting change. These environments consist of playful narratives that reveal and reflect upon commonalities within the human experience and how these experiences connect us all at a sacral root.

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