While the arts have played an essential role in united states culture, it is only fair to remember that this current administration’s budget plan markedly reduced budgets for the arts and humanities, and, in August, lost its committee on the arts after its members resigned (due to the president’s remarks on the white supremacists in Charlottesville).
The response has been ten-fold with, what appears, is hyperactivity towards preserving, amplifying, and supporting artistic and creative expressions in the political and public sphere — all in effort toward common understanding and appreciation of our worldviews and life perspectives.
“How can art help us make sense of these complex histories? The short answer is that the visual—what we see—matters” — Artsy Round Table: ‘Can Art Change the Future for Racial and Ethnic Identity? A Roundtable Conversation’
Defining ‘what art is’ is a challenging pursuit: how can one define what has been one of the most essential characteristics of what makes one human? In a humble attempt, one can say that art is an expression of one’s imagination, of one’s impression of the world, of one’s emotive response to life. Blending the artistic with the political is only one natural path that art itself can take. When the government supported the arts during the early 30s, art became an important part of what was known as ‘the american dream’. In that time, government support of the arts often gave artists the only pay they could achieve during the Great Depression. This time around, there are artists whose work serves to challenge and resist the oppressive and dangerous political climate by illuminating public spaces and turning them into points of community conversation all throughout New York.
PBS Newshour’s Corinne Segal covered The Illuminator — a group of activists, film makers, visual artists, and technologists who use projections of art as social commentary. The Illuminator stages what they call “interventions” in public spaces so that art not only gains attention, but it transforms a public space into a space of engagement.
“The Illuminator Collective has staged hundreds of interventions in public spaces, both geographical and virtual, as acts of incitement and invitation. We transform the street from a site of transit to a space of engagement, conflict, and dialogue.” —
The use of projection art has a short history. Known as “Spatial Augmented Reality” or “Video Mapping”, projection mapping has been around, at least known to be in the united states, as early as the late 60s (1969) and has only progressed since then. Originally used by Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney Creative Entertainment at Disney’s parks, projection art has now, with the aid of social commentary, become part of much needed public spaces for political dialogue.
“Our work calls attention to the many urgent crises that confront us, in support of the ongoing struggle for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.” — The Illuminator