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Galleries at Mason Showcase Digital Works-Eshkar and Kaiser

August 26, 2003
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

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a multimedia installation by SHELLEY ESHKAR and PAUL KAISER
September 22 through October 15
In conjunction with Paul Kaiser’s
Running concurrently in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall
Talk and reception with the artists: Wednesday, September 24, 4:30PM
Johnson Center Cinema
A talk by Bonnie Marranca and Paul Kaiser, Thursday, September 25, 3PM/Reception 4:30PM

Fairfax, Virginia, August 25, 2003—Pedestrian is a work of public art by Shelley Eshkar and Paul Kaiser – who specialize in a digital technique called "motion capture" – which premiered at four sites in Manhattan on February 12, 2002. George Mason University welcomes Pedestrian to the Johnson Center Gallery, on Mason’s Fairfax campus, September 22.

Simultaneously, Kaiser’s homage to theatrical maverick Robert Wilson – who cooperated on the project – Robert Wilson: Visionary of Theater is installed in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall. Both shows run through Wednesday, October 15 and feature a talk and reception with the artists on Wednesday, September 24 at the Johnson Center Cinema located on the ground floor of the George W. Johnson Center on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University.

"Performance: Between Art and Theater," a conversation between Paul Kaiser and Bonnie Marranca is held at 3PM on Thursday, September 25 in Mason’s Harris Theater. Marranca, co-founder/editor of PAJ: A Journal of Art and Performance (formerly Performing Arts Journal), coined the term ‘theater of images.’ A reception with Paul Kaiser and Bonnie Marranca follows the talk at 4:30PM in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

Thematically, Pedestrian draws on Elias Canetti’s classic text Crowds and Power, in which groups and crowds are analyzed almost biologically, as having lives of their own. In the past, it has been nearly impossible to study and aesthetically organize pedestrian movement due to the inability to capture people in motion and recreate those movements. Now, however, due to the advances in technology and software, the artists are able to choreograph the disorganized, unregimented movement of hundreds of moving figures. What will visitors encounter in Pedestrian? Imagine a single beam of light pointed to a spot on a darkened city sidewalk. Upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that there are small figures, seen from a birds-eye perspective, congregating and dispersing in an everyday but mysterious fashion.

Robert Wilson: Visionary of Theater is Kaiser’s multimedia exploration of Wilson’s early work.
One of his goals in Visionary, Kaiser explains, was to "uncover and magnify certain virtuoso performances otherwise buried in history." Choosing from Wilson’s early works ensured the inclusion of those pieces which Kaiser believes are the theater artist’s most ambitious and groundbreaking. He also felt these choices posed the most serious challenges to conveying in multimedia. For example, pondered Kaiser, "how does one make sense of, and portray to the public, a seven-day continuous performance enacted on a mountainside in Iran?" Robert Wilson himself drew on recollections of his major works for Kaiser’s camera and gave the artist complete access to his archives and staff. Many of Wilson’s earliest collaborators including Cindy Lubar, Andy deGroat, Robyn Brentano, Paul Schmidt, Fred Kolo and others provided insight and answers to Kaiser and his crew.

Austin Bunn, writing in The Village Voice, praised the team of Eshkar and Kaiser: "Kaiser the philosopher, and Eshkar, the software da Vinci, claim the inspiration for their spooky digital animations is dance – they’ve worked with Merce Cunningham and Bill T. Jones…The pair are proof that ‘digital art’ can now ditch the coded put-down ‘digital.’ Their work is the best I’ve seen…"

Paul Kaiser’s work has been exhibited at Lincoln Center, MASS MoCA, the Barbican in London, and many other venues. He is the recipient of numerous awards including, a BESSIE (New York Performance Award) in 2000, an Osher Fellowship at the Exploratorium museum in 2001, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996 and a ComputerWorld/Smithsonian Award in 1991, among others. His early work was in the field of experimental filmmaking and voice audiotapes. After a decade of working with people with disabilities and chronicling their thoughts, he applied his approach with the students to an interactive documentary on Robert Wilson’s early work entitled Visionary of Theater (1994-97). With choreographer Merce Cunningham and multimedia artist Shelley Eshkar, Kaiser has created the virtual dances Hand-drawn Spaces (1998) and BIPED (1999). Anita Hamilton in Time Magazine called BIPED a "hypnotic groundbreaking performance…[bringing] dance, that most physical of the arts, into the digital age…digital wizardry at its finest."

Shelley Eshkar is a multimedia artist and experimental animator. Currently Eshkar is exploring the artistic possibilities of high-definition lenticular imaging for public art in which images yield an illusion of movement that shifts with the angle and proximity of the viewer. His collaborations with Paul Kaiser include Hand-drawn Spaces, BIPED and Loops (all with Merce Cunningham), Ghostcatching (with Bill T. Jones) and Pedestrian. Eshkar’s innovations in three-dimensional figural drawing and animation have aroused considerable attention in the fields of computer graphics, dance and architecture. Eshkar is the recipient of many awards, including a 2000 BESSIE and others. He was a Lubalin Fellow at Cooper Union in 1997, and an artist-in-residence at MASS MoCA in 1999. Eshkar served as artist-in-residence at the World Trade Center in a program sponsored by Thundergulch and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Gallery spaces are open Monday-Thursday 9AM-7:30PM and Fridays 9AM-5PM. The Concert Hall is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10AM-6PM and during Center for the Arts Performances. For special accomodations/information, call the gallery office at 703-993-8865. For directions to the George Mason campus visit

The Johnson Center Gallery is located on the main level of the George W. Johnson Center in the heart of Mason’s Fairfax campus. The Fine Arts Gallery is located on the ground floor of the Fine Arts Building in room B104. Galleries are open Mon. through Thurs., from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Fridays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., unless otherwise noted, and by appointment. The Gallery Program is a division of Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, home to the Center for the Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies, and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater, and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music and Theater. For information on the Center for the Arts and its programs and events visit