Recollections of childhood are limited to certain important events: the first toy truck, learning to ride a bicycle, a summer on the beach. But where memory fades, photo albums, old letters and grandparents’ stories fill in the blanks. Combining digital art with choreographed movement, Paul Kaiser of the OpenEndedGroup will present “Drawing on Childhood: a 3D Presentation,” which explores the recesses of childhood imagination and experience, tomorrow night.

Paul Kaiser

Tomorrow at 5:10 p.m.
The Michigan Theater

Kaiser formed OpenEndedGroup with his two partners. The group is a digital-art collective based in New York City that focuses on non-photorealistic rendering, motion-capture photography and body movement.

Kaiser’s 3-D presentation, part of the Penny Stamps series, focuses on how children’s interpretations of their surroundings have influenced his artwork. His particular interest lies in uncovering the hidden complexities of childhood games, explorations and adventures.

Amanda Krugliak, the arts curator at the University’s Institute for the Humanities, said Kaiser’s lecture partly results from his past with teaching children at various levels of disability.

“(Kaiser) started thinking how they saw the world differently and how they met the challenges of communicating,” Krugliak said. “He always thought of childhood in the way we trace human movement or think about memories and the unique way each of us sees the world.”

After creating OpenEndedGroup, Kaiser pursued his interest in childhood and began to create pieces of art that captured the youthful outlook and combined it with digital movement and fluidity.

“(Kaiser) was already putting digital elements into his work and as he began thinking about tracing human movement and capturing performance or dance, (OpenEndedGroup) began investigating different ways to capture that movement in a digital way,” Krugliak said.

Along with a lecture, Kaiser brought two installations through the Institute for the Humanities: “Loops” and “Packard in 3D.” “Loops” uses a digital “cat’s cradle” display of famed choreographer Merce Cunningham’s sensor-laden hands as he recreates a performance. “Packard in 3D” tells the story of an abandoned plant through the perspective of an inquisitive child.

“After seeing the lecture and hearing his influences, you experience the installations and really begin to understand the nature of his work and understand where it comes from,” Krugliak said. “One builds off of the other.”

Kaiser’s work, though highly digital, allows a human presence to be felt. Rather than distancing from human contact through digital rendering, it allows for another area of human interaction to open up: memory reflection.

“You feel like you’re looking back over your experiences,” Krugliak said of Kaiser’s work. “It’s a dreamlike state and as children, that’s kind of the constant state. The work opens you up in a way that a child is open to his sensory experience.”

Rather than letting media alienate audience members, this journey through time uses technology to strengthen personal interaction.

“It’s about preserving art and humanity in a digital age,” Krugliak said.

And as we progress in the digital age, this preservation creates a confluence Kaiser’s childhood curiosity will have to explore.

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