If you’ve visited the park recently, you’ve undoubtedly seen the large black and white sculpture that *DAZZLES* the eye as it seems to change shape and transform right before you. Here’s everything you need to know about Dazzle and the man behind the curtain, Chris Manzione.
What is your creative process like when you are making sculpture?
Making sculpture is a way for me to understand the world around me, a way to work through relationships between ideas, spaces, places, parts of the world I take issue with and question what it is I’m experiencing. I aim to make things that have some kind of shift in the work. When approaching the work you seem to have an understanding of what it is you’re seeing, and then a shift happens revealing something very different. Once this shift happens you are given another opportunity to rethink what is in front you. This creates a space to contemplate the accuracy of ones perception. This becomes most interesting to me when dealing with digitally created forms or 3-D renderings. I want to conflate physical and digital spaces, what happens when those two are given equal importance, and there is no preference over one or the other.
Tell me about your project at Franconia. How does it relate to your past work?
Dazzle was inspired by the camouflage paintings of war ships from the 1910’s. I aimed to create an initial misperception from a distance that continues to change as you approach and move around the sculpture. This effect is emphasized by the high contrast white and black rectilinear pattern on the surface that interacts with the overall shape of the sculpture. At a certain point you begin to realize what it is your seeing and why you might have seen it incorrectly at first. The accuracy and way your perception functions is brought to your attention. The form of the sculpture is very polygonal like that of a digitally created 3-D model.
The form of the sculpture is very polygonal like in a computer space. For the most part, people are going to see the picture of the sculpture rather than the sculpture itself. I like the idea that in an image or a picture of this object, it might seem like rendering and not a real physical thing. I’m creating a conversation between 3-D renderings of works that only exist virtually or in images and the physical sculptures them self.
Why did you propose your project to Franconia? What did the experience of working here offer?
I’ve had friends in the past come here and have really good experiences. The amount of funding is really nice. The facilities and being able to take an idea and make it big, that was of interest to me. It was nice to be able to leave the East Coast, be in a more rural area, clear my mind, and get out of daily life. I’m ready to take on projects that I’m not comfortable with and extend past what I’m able to do. Being able to adapt is something I really enjoy doing. I like having the time and space to do those things, and also have the support to show the work afterwards and problem solve things.
Where did you study and whom did you study with? How have those experiences influenced your own work?
I went to William Paterson University for my Undergraduate studies. That was a real good core to my understanding of materials and sculptural elements. I did a year of post-baccalaureate studies at MICA, and that was really helpful in developing a practice, and what that means for me, and what I actually want. Then I went to Mason Gross School of the Arts for graduate school, I studied with people from a wide range of different disciplines. Skowhegan was one of the most important experiences I’ve ever had, as far as an education in life and relationships and seeing different ways of doing those things. There’s an endless combination of how that can happen: how you can live your life and make it what you want it to be.
How did you time at Franconia compare to other residencies you’ve completed?
I’ve felt more of a connection or access to the local people and places. In a weird way, I almost feel like I’m from here. I don’t think that happens much. Here I feel like this place is part of the town and so much more.
A lot of things changed while I was here, especially the amount of time I thought it would take.
John Hock makes things happen here. Be communicative about what you need and when you need it. Telling everyone often what you’re going to do. Take extra time to execute your project.