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The Scarlet & Black

Smith Gallery has character

By Eric Mistry

A simple, hand-cranked projector sits upon the table, its image reflected onto a temporary wall by a nearby mirror. A solitary hanging lamp sends a ray of light upon the set-up in Smith Gallery, illuminating the new exhibition by Andy Delany ’13: Character of Mystery.

In the small space within Smith Gallery, Delany created an interactive art piece to explore the idea of the image and the concept that images are not necessarily as concrete as we believe.

Delany said he was inspired by the famous Susan Sontag book “On Photography,” which helped shape his expression as he worked on the project.

Photo by Eric Mistry

Students might not expect a math and sociology double major like Delany to occupy Smith, a space usually filled by studio art majors.

“I’m not an art major, but the Art Department has been really great, even with that,” said Delany.

He has taken a few art classes and even completed some higher-level work in the Studio Art department.

“I did an Art MAP with [Professor of Art] Lee Running and Caleb Neubauer ’13 this past summer that was really fun and interesting” said Delany. That MAP, his previous work, and some new thoughts led to his new exhibition.

“I read the Susan Sontag piece ‘On Photography’ over winter break,” Delany said. “It led me to the questions: how do we construct and create images? How do we think about the image as a physical object? We tend to think about images, especially digital ones, as a kind of perfect portal into an imagined reality, but not about as someone standing behind the camera.”

The machine and space seem confusing at first, but Delany quickly explained the unique set-up of the room.

“I built a projector that projects 16mm film that reflects onto this mirror, so on the other side of the wall you can see the image being projected, but also see the image of the person operating the projector,” he said.

Delany then demonstrated the machine in action, the laser-cut gears whirring and grinding as he turned the crank. From the other side of the wall, I could see the convoluted image of Delany through one screen and the quickly looping image of a Western on the other, which seemed like an interesting choice.

“I’ve always just thought Westerns are funny and over-theatrical; they also have all these layers of fiction. They’re really campy, and even have this whole really bad historical representation that’s not really true,” said Delany.

The Character of Mystery, the concept that gave the show its name, is derived from a quote Delany chose from the Sontag piece: “When you break up reality into these separate images, it confers on each moment the character of mystery, in terms of removing it from context. The moment is no longer just a moment in time; it’s the picture moment. The moment you look back on.”

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