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Artists use old caravan to put film into motion

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A still shot from 'Caravan: Double Feature,' which is set to project at 8 p.m. on Sept. 19 on the side of a building near the Ohio Exterminating Co.'s location at 1347 N. High St. Credit: Courtesy of Evan Dawson and Paige Phillips

A still shot from ‘Caravan: Double Feature,’ which is set to project at 8 p.m. on Sept. 19 on the side of a building near the Ohio Exterminating Co.’s location at 1347 N. High St.
Credit: Courtesy of Evan Dawson and Paige Phillips

A local couple has turned a automobile into a piece of working art.

“Caravan: Double Feature” is an upcoming, one-night only cinema event produced by collaboration between Evan Dawson and Paige Phillips, both graduates of Ohio State.

The couple took Dawson’s family’s 2001 Dodge Caravan and replaced the headlights with 16-mm projectors. Hosted by the small art gallery Mote 078 Gallery, a film will project from the new headlights Friday onto the side of a building near the Ohio Exterminating Co.’s location at 1347 N. High St.

“In the film, you will see us walking in front of a car driving down the road,” Dawson said. “It is a fairly straightforward image that will be looping.”

The film is a vaudeville-inspired piece that shows the journey of two wanderers. The genre of vaudeville is a form of theatrical entertainment — popular around the turn of the 20th century — that included variety acts such as clowns and burlesque shows.

There is a deeper meaning behind Dawson and Phillips’s vaudeville inspiration, though. In the height of vaudeville, a traveling caravan of performers would have been the norm in a production, Dawson said. As time progressed, though, this popular form of entertainment was slowly replaced as film was introduced.

This show will display the relationship between performance and its documentation, Dawson said. It is coined as a double feature because it also includes a public performance.

“While the film is playing, my wife and I are going to be doing some performances or moving through some actions,” Dawson said.

The crowd will be gathered outside while the event is taking place, something Dawson said he believes will be “a community building event.”

Art is open to each spectator’s own interpretation, but Dawson has a few ideas of what one might walk away with after witnessing “Caravan: Double Feature.” One of these ideas is a relationship between various forms of technology, including digital and physical photography, digital video and the Internet.

“A lot of technology has been put into the work. But when you show up and see the image of us walking in front of the vehicle on the projector, there’s a distance that we’re putting between ourselves and the technology,” Dawson said. “We’re not inside of the vehicle, we’re choosing to walk.”

Even though Dawson and Phillips have turned this Caravan into a working piece of art, it still functions as a mode of transportation. The vehicle is still street legal, having been built so that the projectors can come out. He explained it could be packed up, driven into a new town and unpacked, becoming a traveling show.

This is Dawson and Phillips’ first time collaborating with the art gallery, which has its main location inside Hopkins Hall.

“It’s an experimental space that tries to engage the public with new contemporary artworks that they may not have been interested or aware in seeing,” said Jacki Miller, director of Mote 078 Gallery. “We feel really honored that (Dawson) decided to go with us.”

Dawson and Phillips have been collaborating for years on many projects, including “Cornering A Hare,” a mixed media installation and dance work that was hosted at the OSU’s Urban Arts Space in February and March 2013.

“We have been working together exclusively for three years now,” Phillips said.

“Caravan: A Double Feature” will be the couple’s last collaboration before they leave the United States.

“We’re headed to Nepal for an artist residency,” Phillips said.

The event will start once the sun has gone down, at approximately 8 p.m. The event is expected to last 30 to 45 minutes.

 

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