Al Larsen | Champlain College Art Gallery | Shows | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Al Larsen Staff Picks

When: Through Nov. 28
Phone: 802-865-8980
If you think the title “Four Feet Forward: Objects, Excess & Illusion” sounds curious, well, you should see the show. Al Larsen’s exhibition at the Champlain College Art Gallery in Burlington is a multimedia extravaganza. It offers snippets of an in-progress doll animation based on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (iPads and headphones provided); handmade figures that “perform” in the videos; synthesized soundtracks; wall-hung assemblages incorporating tiny figures, toys and fresh fruit; image projections; light and shadow; and life-size sock puppets. Oh, and there’s a large red-white-and-blue motorcycle ramp from a rock opera about daredevil Evel Knievel. Larsen created all of this in service of a timeless medium: storytelling. That is essentially what he teaches, via technologies old and emergent, as associate professor and program director of Champlain’s Creative Media BFA. It must be said that his other “tools” are irony and silly humor; Larsen’s exhibition is playfully subversive even as it eludes easy interpretation. Larsen assembled the elements of “Four Feet Forward” during a recent sabbatical. According to a statement from gallery director Dana Heffern, his topics of study “included the history of object performance and puppet theater, theories of the uncanny, and readings in magical realism and media theory.” Larsen also is inspired by experimental filmmakers who use found footage. “You can kind of follow the narrative, but not really,” he said. “You can get lost in it.” And why The Tempest? “It was always just a play that interested me,” Larsen said. “There’s a wizard, the idea of magic. “But once we got into adapting the story,” he continued, “I realized what a horrible person [Prospero] was. We ended up playing with it in a more contemporary way.” Spoiler alert: A video game is involved.

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