Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Chris Coleman

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Editor's note: As our first 100 Colorado Creatives series came to a close on the eve of Westword's Artopia last month, it became painfully obvious that our work was far from finished. We feel lucky to live and work in a place where the number of creative people is ever-growing, raising the bar of the arts every single day, year after year. And so we're picking up right where we left off to present Another 100 Colorado Creatives.

#100: Chris Coleman

University of Denver professor Chris Coleman not only teaches the ropes of the digital arts -- motion-based and otherwise -- he's also making those ropes. In the art world, this is the frontier, and Coleman traverses it in a covered wagon of technology, gaining worldwide notice for his installations, inventions and video work. At the start of what's turning out to be busy spring for Coleman, we invited him to kick off the new 100CC series with insights into his brave new world.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Christina Battle

Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Chris Coleman: Bjork. In her music, visuals, instrumentation and interactions, she truly stands out as a visionary. I choose her over many of my "art-heroes" because I really believe it could be a collaboration, one where we could push one another and make something neither of us could make alone. The flexibility with which she is able to perceive the world and how she has chosen different partners to express that vision over the last twenty years is terribly inspiring.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

Trevor Paglen. His work is a beautiful combination of research, activism, and photography. He dives into the bureaucratic processes that even the most secret of parts of our government must deal with and uses them to uncover those things that attempt to remain hidden, allowing him to expose rendition flights, NSA data sites and hidden cellular scanners on U.S. embassies abroad. I deeply appreciate the way he intelligently communicates the spaces between secrecy and transparency with his artwork.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

Paintings and prints that are supposed to look like bad 'net art of the early 2000s. Perhaps it is because I lived through that art during the first go-around, but the re-representation of it seems vacuous to me.

Continue reading for more from Chris Coleman. What's your day job?

I am an associate professor of Emergent Digital Practices at the University of Denver.

A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

I would start a free arts/educational/lab space that combines the concept of the School for Poetic Computation with the longer-term residencies and technology support of Eyebeam. The primary difference is that I would give preference to the artists working outside of NYC and L.A. in an attempt to shift focus to the great talent outside of those spaces.

What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?

Take $20 million meant to be spent on some giant public art piece and instead buy a building and fill it with art studios that are free or near free, a workshop space, digital labs and other basic facilities.

Continue reading for more from Chris Coleman. Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

Of course, my partner and sometimes collaborator Laleh Mehran is first on the list, but after that, Daisy McConnell, the curator of GOCA @ UCCS, deserves accolades for her ongoing work bringing a stunning range of art to Colorado. Get on the mailing list, and make the journey down there. 

What's on your agenda in the coming year?

After several years of only showing work outside of the city, it is exciting to have a spring full of exhibitions in the region. My collaborator Laleh Mehran and I have our first solo show at Plus Gallery in March. My METRO animation is playing as part of the very awesome Monkey Town 4 art-dining experience through June 1. I will be showing a series of animations created in collaboration with Michael Salter as part of a digital show at the Arvada Art Center starting in June. I will be spending a few weeks in June in China doing an artist residency and offering workshops. August will be spent in Taipei, Taiwan putting on a couple of shows, one of which is my and Laleh's W3FI project to be shown at the National Art Museum. In between all of that, I am hoping to develop some new open-source software to make the creation of Virtual Reality artworks more intuitive and accessible to non-technical artists.

Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2014?

Montgomery Knott and his Monkey Town. Beyond the ongoing Denver Digerati work on the digital billboard at 14th and Champa streets, it is the celebration of digital art that I hope will resonate long after it is gone and ignite a stronger experimental digital scene in the city. 

Transitional Fragments, a multimedia exhibit by Chris Coleman and Laleh Mehran, opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at Plus Gallery and runs through April 19. Get details at Plus online. Coleman's work is also included in Monkey Town 4, running through June 1 at the Exdo Hall; visit the website for information. Learn more about Chris Coleman online.

Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.

To keep up with the Froyd's eye view of arts and culture in Denver, "like" my fan page on Facebook.

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