Renowned Sara Schnadt gave a lecture about her artwork Tuesday, Sept. 28, at the Arts Incubator in Kansas City’s Crossroads neighborhood. Her work deals mostly with human relations to space and networking and combines performance with visual art.
“I have a background in contemporary dance and sculpture,” Schnadt said. “I studied those for my undergraduate years. I started to combine them in my graduate work [at the Chicago Art Institute].”
Her work is different from other artists in that it is space specific. Each presentation is designed for the location. She had many photographs of her work to express what she was exploring.
“One caveat for my images, as you saw us negotiating with the projector before, it seems as if the image is compressed horizontally a little bit, sometimes people might look extra skinny,” Schnadt said.
Schnadt described several of her presentations. The first, “Reading Gestures,” took place at the Chicago Cultural Center. She had several actors pretending to read but repeating certain gestures.
“I tried to recreate the little tiny gestures that people might do to define a private space so that they can within this very large public space lose themselves in what they are reading,” Schnadt said.
Schnadt has made many symbolic representations of the Internet, using brightly colored string to create web-like models of virtual networks. Her first Internet-themed work, “Connectivity,” used string from many local organizations.
“As a performance, I built a visualization of what the Internet might look like over the course of a month at the Museum of Contemporary Art in three-hour shifts twice a week,” Schnadt said.
When the piece was later dismantled, there was a severe miscommunication.
“That giant piece was compressed down and arrived on my doorstep in a box,” Schnadt said. “They just squished the whole thing down into this mass. I was quite horrified but also kind of fascinated by the object, so I decided to recycle it and make another work out of it.”
This recycled piece was called “Connectivity Condensed.” She added more branches to it.
“I made this work that explored density and expansiveness in a very small space using mirrors to imply a larger space than I was actually using,” Schnadt said. “This was my first use of mirrors.”
“Network” is another one of Schnadt’s projects that explores the use of virtual connections in our lives by placing yellow web structures in unexpected locations.
“I wondered what if you literally could see that virtual space cutting across your ordinary space,” Schnadt said. “So I have done versions of an installation playing on that idea of what if in a couple of different kinds of spaces, an empty store front, gallery space, I took over an entire house as well, these are in the last few months. Now I have an industrial space. I’m playing with different kinds of spaces this piece can inhabit.”
She has explored visual representations of social networks, Internet searches and airport travel patterns. She finds that the travel patterns of the audience are essential to the appreciation work.
“I built the piece by marking out where the footprints would be onto the walls for the mirror tile, as well as the travel patterns of the audience,” Schnadt said. “I built the whole piece around that, by putting up the tile and building the string network into the spaces that would be creating a pathway for the audience to move through. You would really feel like you were in the middle of the piece when you came into the space.”
When she built networking webs cutting through the rooms of an actual home, she received insight into an aspect she hadn’t expected to explore.
“This version of ['Network'] made me really consider specifically my position on whether this trend in technology toward all this information access is maybe also a hindrance as well as a help because [the family] physically had to negotiate restricting their space by having all this network existing,” Schnadt said. “I ended up deciding to believe it’s more helpful, more useful and utopic than it is oppressive.”