Thursday, May 9, 2013

Michelle Agresti ’14 talks to Marc Pettersen about MiddletownRemix Festival (May 11)

Marc Pettersen outside of MAC 650 Gallery.
Michelle Agresti ’14 talks to Middletown resident Marc Pettersen about MiddletownRemix: Hear More, See More – A Festival of Art and Sound, taking place on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 2pm to 5pm, in this entry from the Creative Campus blog. "Projected World Experience," a temporary, site-specific art/sound installation commissioned for the festival, will be created in the alleyway between 484 and 500 Main Street by Mr. Pettersen in conjunction with animation artist Cheryl Elliott, and DJ and video artist Matt Weston.

During the MiddletownRemix festival this Saturday, May 11 from 2pm to 5pm, you will have the opportunity to walk through another world: “Projected World Experience,” created by Marc Pettersen, in collaboration with Cheryl Eliot and Matt Weston. In the alleyway between 484 and 500 Main Street, images will be projected on all sides, accompanied by sounds from the MiddletownRemix project. The viewer/listener will be surrounded by this small, alternate universe.

“I want you to be immersed in a video and sound world, “ says Mr. Pettersen, who is responsible for the concept of the piece. To complete the project, he received a grant  from the Arts Catalyze Placemaking Program of the Connecticut Office of the Arts. With an additional grant from UrbanRemix, Mr. Pettersen was able to realize his vision for the festival. To make “Projected World Experience” possible, the alleyway will be covered with white screens, and the opening into a parking lot behind Main Street will be closed off to allow for true immersion.

Several things will happen in this world: there will be a portion where the viewers feel like they are walking on a bridge, and scenes from the bridge will be playing on either side of them. Images and actions paired with sounds will repeat. For example, when Mr. Pettersen showed me a sample of this section of the experience, a woman repeatedly ran across the screen, while another woman came on, played the guitar, and then walked off. All of the sounds are the sounds of Middletown, which Mr. Pettersen has collected through MiddletownRemix (you can read more about the MiddletownRemix project here).

“You just get this huge mix of the Middletown sounds, and then these things keep repeating,” Mr. Pettersen explains. “It's a repetition of sounds, creating a symphony of sounds—layering on top of layering of things.”

Mr. Pettersen, who has a B.F.A. in Animation, designed the images as a mixture between real people filmed against a green screen (which Ms. Elliot assisted with), and animated images. This will also change depending on what section of the experience is playing—Mr. Pettersen also has plans for a jungle scene.

“They’ll be like, you know, the banging sound—there might be a bird trying to crack open a nut. A saw might be a monkey scratching itself. Make it kind of fun,” explains Mr. Pettersen.

The whole thing is made possible by two projectors that are controlled by one computer, built by Mr. Weston. The single computer is used so that the projectors are completely synchronized, necessary to make the project work correctly. The projected images will be 16 to 20 feet long, meaning that the audience will really feel like they are walking in a different world.

Mr. Pettersen describes the project as “taking the sounds of Middletown and changing the way you think about them.”

Mr. Pettersen is an active member of the Middletown community. Aside from teaching animation classes at Green Street Arts Center, he is a member of the Middletown artist cooperative known as MAC 650. There are eight other members, and they live at 650 Main Street. There is a gallery where they have art on display nearly every day of the year, showcasing their own work. Did this artistic community, which has a mandatory 30 hours of art service to Middletown requirement for all members, have a hand in “Projected World Experience?” Well, Mr. Pettersen found both of his collaborators, Ms. Elliot and Mr. Weston, through the collective. Also, he says that the collective provided “the freedom to be able to create,” thus inspiring this project.*

“Projected World Experience” will be on display during the festival. Walking through that alleyway this Saturday May 11 between 2pm and 5pm, the audience will be able to experience another world, with the “everyday” sounds of Middletown filtered through (literally) another lense.

For the complete MiddletownRemix festival schedule, and to capture, contribute and remix sounds from Wesleyan and Middletown using the free UrbanRemix app for iPhone/iOS and Android devices, visit

*[Also during the MiddletownRemix festival this Saturday, there will be a special  North End Gallery Walk, with participating exhibitions at MAC 650 Gallery, as well as the Green Street Arts Center, the Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center, and Middletown Framing. Each location will display artworks related to the themes of Middletown and sound. Stop by the MAC 650 Gallery (located at 650 Main Street) to see the “Hear More, See More Photography Exhibition,” curated by Carolyn Reeves, President of the MAC 650 Artist Co-op. The photographic tribute to Middletown features images from novices to professionals, and shows a variety of shots of the city.]

[There are also regular, monthly gallery walks that typically take place on the first Friday of each month (upcoming walks will take place on June 7, July 12, August 2, September 6, October 4, and November 29, 2013). During those gallery walks, participating businesses and galleries are open from 5pm to 8pm for people to peruse the art and enjoy some entertainment and snacks.  For more information about those gallery walks: ]

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