'Recollections' upgraded at Museum of Art

The outline of Ed Tannenbaum and Merritt Giles can be seen in Tannenbaum’s video artwork called “Recollection.” After being down for two-years, the piece is now up and running at the Albany Museum of Art.

ALBANY, Ga. -- "Recollections" is artist Ed Tannenbaum's baby.

The California native has seen his unique blend of technological prowess and artistic expression installed in art museums around the globe.

This week, Tannenbaum returned to the Albany Museum of Art to fix, tweak and upgrade the exhibit that has been a popular part of the museum's children's wing since the 1990s.

"It's gratifying to see my work in museums across the world. It's pretty amazing," Tannenbaum said.

The performance-based exhibit uses a sophisticated network of cameras, reflectors and projectors, working in conjunction with unique software that allows the user to make brilliant, colorful "trails" of light and other very unique types of effects, Tannenbaum said.

AMA curator Merritt Giles said the exhibit has been a popular part of the museum's children's area since the late 1990s. But about two years ago a technical glitch shut the whole exhibit down.

"We worked for years with the previous director, Nick Nelson, and our previous finance director, Allison Forrestal, and they were able to find the Mitchell EMC grant that we applied for last year," Giles said. "We were awarded about $8,000, so we were able to get the new projector, fly Ed out here to fix it and upgrade the room."

Having the exhibit working again is a boon for the museum, Giles said.

"From the museum's standpoint, it's really great to have it back up and running," he said. "It's a great way for the kids to really get exposed and involved in different things like this. It's very interactive."

Tannenbaum said he became interested in video art in the 1970s, but he had a hard time finding an art institute that was really doing what he thought video art should be doing.

"So I worked on learning electronics so I could build the tools that I would need to do what I thought could be done with video art," the artist said.

In 1981, Tannebaum became the artist in residence at the San Francisco Exploratorium, a move that helped him explore the concept that would eventually become Recollections.

"I was inspired by a film called 'Pas De Deux,' which was done by Norman McClaren in Canada. He took two ballet dancers and processed them with optical reprinting on film and did sort of a delayed effect in black and white," Tannebaum says. "I thought it would be great to do that in real time with anybody, and so I developed Recollections to do that."

Tannebaum said that his initial concept for Recollections was for it to be in black and white because in 1982 computer animation and graphics capability were scant compared to today's technology.

"In 1982, they came out with chips that allowed for color in video games, so I was able to get this chip with a palette of 512 colors with 16 on the screen at one time," he said. "Now I have a palette of over 16 million colors, and I can put 256 colors up at one time."

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