Chele Isaac is a Madison-based artist who combines moving images and sound to create fully immersive, multimedia environments. Although looking to the past for inspiration, she utilizes twenty-first century technologies in her playful explorations of visual perception, poetically re-imagining for the contemporary world the optical devices used during the pre-history of cinema. Through a careful balance of texture, tone, and repetition, Isaac weaves together loose cinematic narratives that eschew traditional storylines and function instead to elicit feelings of the uncanny.
For her solo exhibition at MMoCA, Isaac re-constitutes, in modern form, the cyclorama—a type of entertainment popularized in the mid- to late 1800s in which a panoramic image was presented on the inside of a cylindrical platform. Giving viewers standing in the middle of the platform a 360-degree view, cycloramas were designed to elicit the overwhelming sensation of being present at the depicted scene. Isaac sets her seven-channel video projection within a similarly massive and enveloping circular structure. But rather than replicating the single continuous image of the cyclorama, the artist projects her video tableaus as distinct yet synchronized moving images within the larger panorama. Each individual video focuses on the beauty of life’s interstitial moments and overlooked details, from seagulls flying overhead to a deer wandering through freshly fallen snow. Taken together, the projected videos point to the indifference of nature, and invite us to think about our relationship to the changing environment.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website