Photo Credit: Frank Darko, Courtesy of Pariah and Sean Miller
Despite spending most of his adult life in New Mexico and California, Sean Miller sounds like a true Texan when describing how he “hadn’t been able to find a space big enough for a large-scale piece” when he moved to Dallas. Luckily for him, we’re equipped for BIG things in the Dallas Arts District. When Miller features his piece “Abri” at Aurora on October 16, he’ll have an entire section on the side of the Dallas City Performance Hall to display his work.
“Abri” is the third iteration of an audio/visual project Miller has been refining and making more complex over time. Through unique software, Miller creates structures you might find in nature and projects them onto a space, while the visuals morph and change. “I’m interested in the way things work organically,” Miller says. “I’m fascinated by the way water moves and lava flows. I’m fascinated by the way simple organisms multiply.”
Creating artwork like this requires a skill set that’s new to most traditional artists. Miller taught himself to code, among other technical proficiencies, in order to carry out his computational artwork. “Now, he teaches others as a professor at Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas. Just as Miller grew passionate about digital art thanks to a college professor, he hopes to endow in young artists a diverse and modern set of tools to hone their abilities, including the use of computers. Though his students are digital natives and take to the challenges enthusiastically, digital art is still a somewhat novel concept for most people in North Texas.”
As co-founder of Midway Gallery in Exposition Park, Miller helped to change this. He created a very public canvas for such work across the street from the State Fair of Texas in 2014. He projected local artists’ work onto the outer windows of the gallery which faced the fair, providing a show seen by thousands. “People didn’t know that it was an art gallery. It was accessible and it clicked with people.”
Through Aurora, even more people can be exposed to digital artists. “Aurora is the most visible venue for this type of work,” Miller explains. “It puts us on the map.” Though he’s participated in years past, he saw a marked increase in visitors and looks forward to a deeper experience for those who attend.
Miller hopes people will take their time at his piece “Abri” which depicts a cave-like structure that exists underneath a waterfall. Because “video uses time” people who stay around at the piece will see the visuals change with time and provide multiple experiences through one exhibit. “The cycles never repeat the exact same thing,” Miller describes. “The brain will recognize that things are moving in familiar ways, but not exactly the same.” Miller suggests taking in the piece from afar to see it “framed in architecture” and even going inside of it, where they can be fully immersed in the audio and video that Miller uses to create very real sensations of elemental force.
The piece reflects the cultivation and support of innovative art projects that have been bubbling up in the Dallas arts scene. While living in New Mexico, Miller would visit his wife’s family in Dallas and he remembers a very different city. “Coming here fourteen or fifteen years ago, it seems to have changed in ways that I never could have imagined,” Miller says. “I’m really excited to be here.
As artists like Miller make Dallas their home and showcase their talent through events like Aurora, we can honestly say we’re just as excited to be here to witness it.