Philip Mallory Jones
Media Art / Synthetic World Design /
Curriculum Development and Implementation
The trajectory of my work, spanning more than four decades, describes a process of migration, transformation, convergence, and synthesis. In this process, a set of concepts, content and desires migrate through diverse modes and media; intention and design are transformed in each mode, and revealed in new ways; the convergence of medium and content material creates a temporal terrain in which intentions can be realized that were not previously possible; and unanticipated results catalyze new ideas and illuminate next steps. This process is evidenced in the development of individual projects, as well as the span of my portfolio.
The spectrum of modes and temporal terrains with which I am familiar include fiction writing, 35mm and view camera photography, 16mm animation and optical printing, analog and digital video, 2D digital imagery, 3D digital modeling and animation, synthetic worlds, sculpture in acrylic plastic and airborne kinetic forms (kites), and drumming as ritual practice.
A poem should not mean, But be. Archibald MacLeish
My approach to understanding art, and making art, is grounded in traditional practice and projects into the avant-garde of aesthetic technology. For example, I find guidance and insight in the temple architecture, symbolic language and Esoteric Thought of the Nile Valley civilization and the aesthetic of the Tuareg, as well as the literature of Magical Realism and the composition of jazz improvisation. Guides and influences in my process include Romare Bearden, Charles Mingus, R. A. Schawaller de Lubicz, Roy de Carava, Langston Hughes, Claude Debussy, Jean Cocteau, Robert Ferris Thompson, Charles Finch, and Antoine de Saint Exupery. Their genius informs this process, and is the ground.
The focus of my research and production, for the past decade, is investigating the composition/design of narratives that are indigenous to synthetic worlds and immersive environments, including game environments, Second Life, Open Sim and others. My approach to this realm of inquiry, expression and invention is interdisciplinary, trans-generational and collaborative. This investigation also finds application in my work in museum/gallery and installation design, stage set design, and the creation of other learning environments. This temporal realm enables new modes of perception and expression and the emergence of new paradigms for organizing content to create meaning and enhance understanding. Synthetic worlds are not limited to being a replication of the physical/proximal world (First Life). They comprise a temporal terrain that, while sharing and simulating many attributes of the physical/proximal realm, have capabilities and characteristics that distinguish them as potent and important frontiers in many disciplines and practices. Experience, understanding, perception, and communication in the synthetic world are not less or more “real” than in the physical; rather, the implementation in one case is organic, in the other it is synthetic; all are processed and made coherent in the imagination. The efficacy of working in synthetic worlds, or any mode, remains the same: to implement the expressive impulse; to enable curiosity; and to make work that transcends the tool.
You can make great work with a stick in sand, if you’re good with a stick. Gunilla Fiegenbaum
Bronzeville Etudes & Riffs (work-in-progress) is an immersive graphic novel. Accessed via web browser or download, the visitor enters an immersive environment, dynamic with activity, and responsive to the visitor’s presence and interaction. The setting is an impressionistic rendering of South Side Chicago, circa 1940′s, and the neighborhood is populated by distinctive characters, interactive objects and tableaux. The narrative paths wind through five generations of an African American family. It is also richly embedded with media elements that are the social/cultural/political context in which the dramas unfold. The visitor discovers and layers the narrative through navigation and interaction with the characters and environment.
In The Sweet Bye & Bye: An Immersive Memoir (2007), an installation in Second Life, is a fusion of traditional and avant-garde genres, which can only be realized in the synthetic world. It is designed to be “read” in three dimensions. The narrative threads and paths are discovered in the overlap of images and texts, and in the compositions of planes and angle that form/transform as the avatar point-of-view shifts. The narratives are on three levels: personal/family anecdote, communal lore, and allegory. In this piece, I am developing an approach to narrative composition and immersive experience design that is generative. Briefly, this is a vision of narrative composition in three dimensions, with variable sequence, and which is a unique sight and sound experience on each encounter, and for each visitor. The piece becomes more than the sum of its parts. Metaphor and memory, multiple simultaneous and interacting narrative paths, and variable points-of-view are among the elements that I use to create the immersive experience.
I am Creative Director at Alchemy Media Publishing, and developing projects in association with Entertainment Arts Research, inc.
I have worked with motion and still visual media, sound and writing for artistic, scholarly, and commercial endeavors since 1969, and have incorporated digital media since 1990.
My work has been broadcast and exhibited in North America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Africa, Japan, Singapore, and Australia. I was co-founder and Director of Ithaca Video Projects (1971-85), one of the pioneering media arts centers, and Director/Curator of the Annual Ithaca Video Festival (1974-83), the first juried touring collection of video art. In 1989, I was Curator for ICONO NEGRO: The Black Aesthetic In Video Art, at the Long Beach Museum of Art. In 2001, I, with my collaborator Katherine Milton, PhD, received the National Black Programming Consortium “Prized Pieces” award for the Negro Ensemble Company interactive CD-ROM. In 2002, I received the Arizona Governor’s Award in the Arts, for my digital paintings. I have been an invited presenter at the International Film Seminars’ Flaherty Conference in 2001, 1989, and 1986. In 2009. I was an invited presenter at TRANSFORMATIONS, New Directions in Black Art, hosted by Maryland Institute College of Art and Harvard University, and the follow-up Think Tank conference, in 2010.
My work has been supported by the College of Fine Arts, and the Russ College of Engineering and Computing Sciences, Ohio University, Rockefeller International Media Arts Fellowship (2), Arizona Commission on the Arts, Columbia College at Chicago, Arizona State University Public Events, National Black Programming Consortium, Independent Television Service (2), Ford Foundation, Whitney Museum of American Art, American Center in Paris, Bohen Foundation, Western States Regional Media Arts Fellowship, Smithsonian Institution Experimental Gallery, Television Laboratory at WNET/13 (2), Corporation for Public Broadcasting, American Film Institute, National Endowment for the Arts (multiple), New York State Council on the Arts (multiple), Creative Artists Public Service Program (2).
My art portfolio includes LISSEN HERE! (2004) a book of poetry and photo-collage, plus film animations, video, interactive digital disc-based works, multimedia installations and performances, published fiction, and sculptures in acrylic plastics.
My current work includes designing new forms of immersive experience and learning environments using video game engines, synthetic worlds, and augmented reality.
My academic credentials include the MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University (1971), and the BA (English Composition) from Beloit College (1969).
My previous faculty and research appointments include Resident Artist at The Aesthetic Technologies Lab, College of Fine Arts, Ohio University (2006-2010); the Batza Distinguished Scholar in Art and Art History, at Colgate University, 2002-03; Resident Artist at the Institute For Studies In The Arts, and Senior Lecturer, College of Fine Arts, Arizona State University (1991-2000); and Assistant Professor on the Film/Television faculties of the State University of New York at Fredonia (1990-91), Howard University (1987-1989), and Ithaca College (1984-1987).