Posts Tagged 'Bill Viola'

Indiana Jones in the Digital Age

Uncrated stopped by the IT Department and caught up with Jessica Heimberg, Senior Developer, to learn more about her role here at the DMA. She can typically be found hiding behind two large monitors on her desk.

Jessica Heimberg

Describe your job in fifty words or less.
I work in the Information Technology Department. My official title is Senior Developer, but I am more like the MacGyver of tech projects and all things IT. (For those of you who missed this TV series, MacGyver was a non-gun-toting secret agent who improvised gadgets to solve crimes.)

What might an average day entail?
It could start with an update meeting and nice espresso, courtesy of DMA Deputy Director Rob Stein, or it could start with a flooded closet and fried switches. Depending on the day, I may be writing code, managing a project, creating documentation, trouble-shooting software, (politely) arguing with a vendor, walking with the cable dudes through a dusty construction site, or trying to figure out why someone’s e-mail worked on their iPhone yesterday but not today. Actually, I think I just described my Tuesday a few weeks ago.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
The best part of my job is that by helping create new programs, and supporting the DMA and its staff, I get to play a public service role in my city, and that makes me proud. I feel more than ever that people need art, music, playgrounds, and parks.

One of the more challenging and equally exciting effects of working in a small department is that we have to manage a lot of IT without a lot of staff. This definitely forces efficiencies, and we get to apply real creativity to problem solving. By nature and training, I tend to create schedules and plans. I like to maintain order and do my best to make working on projects as low stress as possible, but as anyone who’s ever worked on ANYTHING knows, even best-laid plans can get monkey-wrenched, and I have learned that some of the best ideas come out of the rubble of an initial plan.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
I was going to be Indiana Jones—am I dating myself here? In a past life (yes, I am older), I worked in the fashion industry, and then in corporate settings, but always gravitated toward the arts, science, and nature to find balance and inspiration.

What is your favorite work in the DMA’s collection?
Just one? Not possible to pick just one.

Bill Viola, The Crossing, Chanel 1 - "Fire," 1996, two-channel video/sound installation, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, and gifts from an anonymous donor, Howard E. Rachofsky, Gayle Stoffel, Mr. and Mrs. William T. Solomon, Catherine and Will Rose, and Emily and Steve Summers, in honor of Deedie Rose

Bill Viola, The Crossing, Channel 1 – “Fire,” 1996, two-channel video/sound installation, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, and gifts from an anonymous donor, Howard E. Rachofsky, Gayle Stoffel, Mr. and Mrs. William T. Solomon, Catherine and Will Rose, and Emily and Steve Summers, in honor of Deedie Rose, (c) Bill Viola, Long Beach, California

I have always loved The Crossing, by Bill Viola. At my last job, at least once a week I would take lunch at the DMA and wander the galleries for an hour just to clear my head. I remember when the Viola was installed and how exciting it was to walk into this big, dark space and stand in front of the projection, watching. I visited the thing three or four times before realizing it had a whole other side! I fell in love with it a second time. I know it is a digital piece, but something about the scale and pace of it strikes me as very human, and it is comforting to me.

Bill Viola, The Crossing, Chanel 2 - "Water," 1996, two-channel video/sound installation, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, and gifts from an anonymous donor, Howard E. Rachofsky, Gayle Stoffel, Mr. and Mrs. William T. Solomon, Catherine and Will Rose, and Emily and Steve Summers, in honor of Deedie Rose

Bill Viola, The Crossing, Channel 2 – “Water,” 1996, two-channel video/sound installation, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, and gifts from an anonymous donor, Howard E. Rachofsky, Gayle Stoffel, Mr. and Mrs. William T. Solomon, Catherine and Will Rose, and Emily and Steve Summers, in honor of Deedie Rose, (c) Bill Viola, Long Beach, California

Is there a past exhibition that stands out in your mind as a favorite, or is there a particular upcoming show you’re looking forward to seeing?
Oh, gosh – so many! I thoroughly enjoyed the “blockbuster” exhibitions like Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs and especially The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, but most of my favorites have been mounted by our own curatorial staff. I loved Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea, The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, African Masks: The Art of Disguise, Omer Fast: 5000 Feet Is the Best, and the telling of a chunk of American history through Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design. I think Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World, the Islamic art and culture exhibition opening in 2014, will be a stunner.

Jessica Heimberg is Senior Developer, Information Technology at the DMA.

Staff Profile: In the Sound Booth

Uncrated tracked down Corbett Sparks, one of the DMA’s multimedia technicians, to talk about his job at the Museum. Corbett can frequently be spotted behind the sound board during Thursday Night Live and Late Nights in the Atrium and is also the “great Oz” in the Horchow Auditorium control booth.

Describe your job in fifty words or less.
I am a multimedia technician, which means I take care of any audio/video needs that come up at the Museum. I am also in charge of editing and cataloguing all recorded audio.

What might an average day entail?
I really don’t have average days—I don’t even have a regular schedule! The only consistent part of my week is Thursday night, where I run sound for jazz (Thursday Night Live). I also take care of all the atrium performances for Late Nights on the third Friday of every month. Other days I might be setting up a laptop and projector for a meeting or running the sound and light boards for a lecture in the Horchow Auditorium.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
Meeting the artists and performers that come through here and making sure their lecture/show goes off the way they want is my favorite part of this job. I am a people-pleaser and enjoy exceeding their expectations. My biggest challenge might be dealing with all the people that get me confused with the other tech, JD. We kind of look alike.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
I always knew I would work in a creative field. When I was younger, I wanted to either be a fine artist or movie director. That being said, I still don’t know if I am grown up yet.

What is your favorite work in the Museum’s collections?
Bill Viola’s, The Crossing. He was an early inspiration for me as an artist. My first introduction to his work was actually at the DMA. That piece was called The Sleep of Reason:

“A black-and-white monitor on a wooden chest shows a close-up view of a person sleeping. At random intervals, the lights cut out and the room is plunged into total darkness. Large color moving images momentarily appear on three walls and a loud disturbing sound of moaning and roaring fills the space — fires burn out of control through city buildings, fierce attack dogs lunge at the camera, violent ocean waves crash into shore, a provoked owl flies into a bright light. Just as suddenly, the images vanish, the lights come back on, and the room returns to normal.

This piece opened my high school eyes to what art could be—not just paintings and sculpture, but concepts and the use of technology to get those ideas across.

Is there a past exhibition that stands out in your mind as a favorite, or is there a particular upcoming show you’re looking forward to seeing?
I really enjoyed Fast Forward. I am also definitely looking forward to the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition. I am intrigued by the use of the “Tony Ousler”-ish  projections on the mannequins and the general atmosphere surrounding them. Looks like fun!

Art and Amps: Getting Media Works Up and Running

Uncrated tracked down DMA staffer Lance Lander to talk about his job at the Museum, which often involves climbing in and out of holes in the sheetrock of our gallery ceilings and walls.

Describe your job in fifty words or less.

I am the Collections Media Technician and an Assistant Preparator. I design, install, manage, and maintain all of the technology hardware used within the galleries. Additionally, I provide support to the preparators in all facets of art handling.

What might an average day entail?

For me there is no average day. One day I am hanging paintings in a gallery and the next day I am running cables through the ceiling. There are days that I work in the Carpentry Shop building crates, and then there are days that I spend programming computers.


How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?

The best part of my job is the team of people I work with directly (Martha, Elia, Mary, Vince, Brian, Doug, John, Mike, and Russell). Everyone is extremely talented and supportive of one another. Each person has his or her own niche or skill set and together as a group we are very strong. We all work well together and have a lot of fun at the same time.

The biggest challenges are dealing with so many forms of technology and keeping the equipment running. I deal with technology ranging from the 1960s to the present day. Some of the works in our collections rely on the equipment they were created with. We can’t just upgrade and “digitize” a work of art. We must maintain the integrity and aesthetic of the work. Technology changes at such a fast rate that it is hard to balance between our needs today and our needs for the future. We have started adding high-definition videos to our collections, so the equipment we use on current works won’t accommodate these new ones. The Museum is open fifty-two hours a week and sometimes more, so I need industrial equipment and creative ways to automate everything.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?

Growing up I always wanted to be a recording engineer and producer. That’s what got me interested in technology. I loved recording music on jam boxes and then four-track cassette recorders. I would spend hours experimenting with sounds and recording techniques. I would take apart electronics just to have a peek inside. I studied music and engineering, and I worked in several studios and made some really nice-sounding records. I was lured to the DMA as a live sound engineer when they began the Late Night program.

What is your favorite work in the Museum’s collections?

That would be Ave, by Mark Di Suvero. It is powerful, poetic, simple, and elegant. The sculpture was made the year I was born and I have a strong affection for it. Last year someone cable locked his bicycle to it and I was the one who cut the lock!

Is there a past exhibition that stands out in your mind as a favorite, or is there a particular upcoming show you’re looking forward to seeing?

Fast Forward was the exhibition that made the Exhibitions and Collections departments realize the importance of having a Media Technician. I was working in the Audio Visual Department and gallery installations were just a side part of that job. The media installations were just thrown together with little or no concern for aesthetic or function. Fast Forward was my chance to show everyone that media installations could be better. I always strive to show an artist’s work as best I can because I know it will enhance the visitor’s experience. But for me, personally, the world won’t listen by Phil Collins was the most rewarding installation. There were many challenges and problems to solve, and right at the end everything came together. It was a beautiful installation and people really loved it. It will probably be awhile before we take on such a large-scale video installation. As far as future installations, I would like to see the Museum install Bill Viola’s The Crossing. I installed it a few years ago in Palm Springs, and when everything is set and you play it for the first time it is a chilling experience. I remember coming to the DMA in 1998, when the work debuted, but at that point in time I never knew I would work here or be responsible for such a magnificent work of art. I believe it is the strongest video in the DMA’s collections and I hope to install it soon.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,599 other followers

Twitter Updates

Flickr Photo Stream

Categories