The Waters of Life: A Refuge

An Immersive Multimedia Environment by Justin Freed

A multimedia environment
presented at Galatea Fine Art November 4-29, 2015.

Exhibition Video:
A documentary video of Refuge: Waters of Life exhibition as installed at Galatea Fine Art.


A dialogue with the artist

Q: What is this presentation? Why do you call it an environment instead of an installation?
A: I enjoy installations but, rather than putting interesting things into a space, my goal is to transform and change the ambiance of that space. It’s a subtle difference.

Q: Do you know what the result will be?
A: I cannot predict that. I have chosen to do something I have never done before. I work intuitively and hope for the best. Ultimately this has to work as art, then perhaps it will resonate on other levels.

Q: Why the word “Refuge”?
A:  Because, in a strident world, I think there is a need to spend time in a place that is aesthetically rewarding and emotionally satisfying.
A place that answers a basic need for harmonious being. A place that changes brain chemistry for the better. You could say that all good art serves this purpose. This is just my version.

Q: Is it an Art Therapy project?
A: No. I have no background in that field. The fact is that we have both an intellectual and an emotional response to any space we enter.
I thought, why not make this an intentional place in the spirit of inspiring places I have been in, both in nature, museums and chapels. A place I see in my mind’s eye, that calls to me. A refuge.

Q: Why water?
A:  That’s a huge topic that humbles me. I believe in cellular memory. I believe that water is our metaphysical “home”.
Eons ago our progenitors lived in water and later we swam in our mothers’ wombs. We sense this in our cellular memories. We cannot exist without water.

W. H. Auden wrote:
” Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

I am a swimmer I must swim: swimming is both a physical and emotional necessity for me. I also have lived much of my life near water— oceans, lakes, ponds, reservoirs.
So this is this is a vital place for me. I have been photographing water and clouds, those magical containers of water, much of my life.
Secondly,the aesthetics of water, its varied looks, its colors, its sounds, its ineffable lure. Its dynamic visual world fascinates me. One I experiment with aesthetically.
I believe that when we gaze out at bodies of water (interesting metaphor) we are looking back in time at our origins, in wonder. Water gives profound pleasure and healing.

Q: Were there specific core aesthetic experiences that are touchstones?
A: Nature is my strongest influence as well as a multitude of great artists and photographers.For this show it is the music of the atmosphere around water. I have mostly limited my color scheme to create a sense of formal unity. I search for the elemental in nature, nature’s alphabet. Certain hues and shapes of blue, gray, green and black, combined with reflections of clouds, evoke musical chords. Much like the ineffable mood of Miles Davis and Bill Evans’s “Blue in Green.” Or works by Debussy and Ravel, to name a few.

Q: What media will you use?
A: I will use my photographs and videos as raw material. I like to use them as if I am making a collage. Some images will stand alone, because people have complained a bit about the lack of still images in last year’s show at Galatea Fine Art.
Sound is essential. Composer Max Alper has created a soundscape specifically for this experience. There will also be various sounds of waterfalls etc. that I recorded and an actual bell that can be struck gently by visitors.
There will be videos, digital frames with multiple photographs and constructions.
I commissioned set designer Peter Watson to create a many colored, three dimensional structure that will reflect videos of wave action. Peter has also created some interesting kinetic pieces with imagery on them.
The gallery will be somewhat darkened to enhance the imagery.
Exhibition guru will make sure all is running smoothly.

Thoughts While Reading

” The mirror of the pond gleams,
Half an acre in size.The splendor  of the sky,
and the whiteness of the clouds
Are reflected  back upon themselves.
I ask the pond where I can find
Anything else as pure and transparent.
Only in the springs of the water of life.”

Chu Hsi, translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Exhibition Review – Follow The Water Home by Celina Colby
Published in Boston City Paper – November 2015