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New Kennedy exhibition brings subconscious visions to life

ATHENS, Ohio (April 6, 2004) -- Acclaimed New York City-based artist Gregory Barsamian creates three-dimensional animated sculptures that explore the language of the subconscious while celebrating the nature of dreams. Employing the 19th-century theory of the "persistence of vision" and utilizing rotating mechanical armatures and synchronized strobe lights, Barsamian creates pieces that seem to unexplainably morph familiar objects in unexpected ways to suggest the alternative realities of the mind.

ScreamA new exhibition, which opens on April 16 at the Kennedy Museum of Art, presents four of Barsamian's recent sculptures. The public is invited to a reception on April 16, at 6:30 p.m.; the artist will be in attendance. In addition there will be "Members Only" gallery talk with the artist on April 16 at 5:30 p.m. For information on becoming a Friend of the Kennedy Museum and attending the private gallery talk please email bartletl@ohio.edu or call (740) 593-1304. The museum is waiving the Members Only restriction on this event, so be sure to take advantage of this exciting opportunity!

Barsamian's sculptures are derived from a personal study of his own dreams. Since 1983, he has kept a tape recorder next to his bed so that he can immediately record the content and imagery of his dreams upon waking. He finds three-dimensional animation the perfect medium to explore the mysterious world of the human subconscious.

"Sleeping next to a tape recorder allows me to explore and harvest images of the subconscious," he writes, "These images betray the self-deceptive schemes that comprise our realities. Universal themes can be found in them which unmask our illusion of control and reveal our vulnerability. The animation technique I have chosen allows the viewer to share the same space with these fragments of the unconscious, experiencing them in three-dimensions and in real time. What I offer is a three-dimensional window into the domain of the unconscious where the emotions run free and self deception is an oxymoron."

PostcardsBarsamian uses relatively simple technology to transform his three-dimensional sculptures into evolving, real-time narratives. His kinetic sculptures begin with the fabrication of a series of acrylic-painted urethane foam sculptures, each slightly different from the next. These sequentially formed objects are mounted on a mechanical armature that spins up to 20 miles per hour. The rapid succession of the spinning armature, illuminated by a synchronized strobe light, create the optical illusion of motion. The effect is inspired by a 19th-century parlor toy called a zoetrope (see glossary below) and other proto-cinematic devices. His images, like the zoetrope, illustrate the scientific principle of the persistence of vision, which is the phenomenon that the human brain "fills in the blanks" between sequential images seen in rapid succession, creating an illusion of continuous motion.

Barsamian's work has been included in many collections internationally, such as the American Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, NY; Birmingham Museum of Art, AL; Creative Discovery Museum, Chattanooga, TN; Tempozan Gendaikan Contemporary Museum, Osaka, Japan; Musee Chateau, Annecy, France; and the San Jose Museum of Fine Art, CA.

For more on this artist and his work visit his Web site www.gregorybarsamian.com where you can also view a movie of "The Scream," which is included in the Kennedy Museum exhibition.

"Gregory Barsamian: Time and Tribulations" is organized in association with the 31st Athens International Film and Video Festival. The exhibition will be on view through June 13, 2004.


  • Persistence of Vision: The theory that the human retina retains an image for about a tenth of a second so if a new image appears in that time, the sequence seems to be uninterrupted and continuous.
  • Zoetrope: An optical device, invented in 1834 by William George Horner, which illustrates the scientific principle of "persistence of vision." Images, at first hand-drawn and then replaced with photographs, were mounted on the inside of a rotating drum. Viewers looking through slits in the drum witnessed this illusion of unbroken movement.

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Media Contact: Director of Communications and Marketing Karen Wyman, (740) 593-1304 or wymank@ohio.edu  

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