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Talking art and tech with Ivan Toth Depena

Remember exhibit uses augmented reality for extra layers

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For Charlotte-based Ivan Toth Depeña technology has added a new platform to his work as an artist. A graduate from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, where he received a masters degree in architecture, his art incorporates aspects of design, architecture, and ... wait for it ... technology.

As an artist-in-residence at McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Depeña has been busy creating Remember, an exhibition that explores memory. It's all comes together through mixed media — drawing, painting, sculpture, audio, video, and an augmented reality mobile application. Of the latter, he adds extra layers that can be used to better explore the passage of time. Creative Loafing asked Depeña some questions to get a better impression of his current exhibition, which opens with a reception on Friday, Nov. 11 at McColl.

Creative Loafing: How has this exhibit at McColl differed from some of your past projects?

Ivan Toth Depeña: In the process of working on this exhibition, I have allowed myself freedoms in certain details and thought processes that I do not regularly have. I am a lot less obsessive than I usually am.

Can you tell me about why you decided to hone in on McColl's history for some of the drawings in the exhibit?

The exhibition is a bit more about my history there and my memory of what I worked on and experienced while there. It also happens that McColl's building has an interesting past... The history of the building burning down and rebuilt, has a direct relationship to my work process. Taking things apart and reassembling, allowing chance to take over and reconstructing with specific intention. The sculptural fragments that are being exhibited are repurposed pieces used in an installation I did earlier this year.

For this exhibit you've also incorporated an augmented reality mobile application. Why was this addition important to you and how can visitors interact with this component?

I think the augmented reality technology is developing into a really amazing platform to allow us to see layers of reality that don't actually exist. It is very similar to a dream or even more particularly memories.

There also seem to be a lot of 3D geometric shapes and patterns in some of the works. How do these fit into the over all meaning of the project at large?

In this instance, I wanted to react to the space itself. The church building is a really substantial piece of architecture. Also, there is a 3D element to a lot of my work. Whether it be painting, drawing or sculpture... I explore space, depth and scale in pretty much every aspect of my work.

In what ways does having an audio/visual component to the overall exhibit shape the way the art is consumed?

I want it to be immersive, sensorial and encompassing. I feel that activating various senses is a means to achieve these results.

What do you hope that folks who come to see the exhibit take away?

This installation is a concentrated glimpse into my process. I am really shooting from the hip here. Calling Charlotte my home now, I wanted there to be a certain honesty explored about who I am as a person and artist. I am thinking of it as a peek into a visual journal of sorts.

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