Bedrooms Talk, Cells Divide and Art emerges in Upcoming Beall Center Installation

Amy Ho[t]ch, (I)nterstices, Mixed Media, dimensions variable

Irvine, Calif., December 17, 2003 -- Step inside the upcoming installation at UC Irvine's Beall Center for Art and Technology, and you will enter a surreal bedroom where a family drama is unfolding. Scattered everywhere are the contents of the room, all seemingly suspended in the midst of activity. Move a little closer and the intimate domestic setting literally springs to life.

Digital images and sounds are embedded in the room's furnishings, including three talking dresser drawers that divulge an intensely personal family conversation.

By combining traditional and experimental media, New York artist A.M. Hoch links images, sound and space to create "Mitosis: Formation of Daughter Cells." The digital art installation is termed "habitable cinema," where bedposts, mirrors and drawers become the "animated" characters offering visual context to the piece. In this new work commissioned by the Beall Center, sensors detect the movement of viewers, triggering various exchanges between a father, mother and daughter - conversations that reveal the family dynamics and struggle for individuality.

"We commissioned 'Mitosis' because A.M. Hoch is a recognized painter and sculptor who has begun to experiment with technology in a way that we felt had great potential," said Eleanore Stewart, director of the Beall Center. "We anticipate an exceptional experience for the viewer - one that will demonstrate the potential of technology in expanding artistic expression."

Mitosis - the biological process by which the cell's nucleus divides and replicates itself - has been the subject of Hoch's work for many years. The forms and gestures of mitosis appear in her previous artistic creations on canvas as well as other media. The process of cell division serves as a vivid metaphor for the elemental drama of merging, separation and transformation.

Hoch's introduction to the concept dates back to a particularly formative and often difficult time in life - junior high school.

"I was in science class looking through my microscope and wham! I started seeing the most beautiful truths conveyed in that cellular process - the gestures, the forms are so primal and passionate - for me it was a visualization of love on the deepest level," Hoch said.

Hoch isn't alone in creating her vision. Writers and actors Wallace Shawn and Deborah Eisenberg developed the Mitosis script and lent their narrative talents by performing the family dialogues. Shawn, who may be best known for his roles in the movies "The Princess Bride" and "My Dinner with Andre," has written several plays including "Aunt Dan and Lemon" and the soon to be released motion picture "Marie and Bruce." Eisenberg writes an edgy, topical brand of humor that has earned her four O. Henry Awards.

Technical expertise is provided by Mark Shepard and Carlos Tejada of the digital media architectural company "dotsperinch." They recently received a Peabody Award for their work on the Sonic Memorial Project, an online narrative tribute to the World Trade Center.

Hoch and her collaborators have created a "time-less" installation given there is no beginning or end to the presentation. The taped loops are continuous. While the script has a dramatic arc, each participant's overall experience will vary depending on who is where in the room. The sequence and emotional tone of the family's conversations depend on how and when the various hidden sensors are engaged.

"In this piece - and in my understanding of the world in general - there is no such thing as objectivity," Hoch said. "There are only myriad subjective perspectives. Technologies or media that reveal that mystery - mirrors, paintings, cameras, sensor-triggered audio loops - are infinitely fascinating to me like Narcissus with his reflection. At heart, this installation is a meditation on the nature of subjectivity and how love is basically our only guide through the house of mirrors in which we live."

The artist's opening reception will be held from 6-9 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 6. The public is invited. "Mitosis: Formation of Daughter Cells" runs through Feb. 15 at the Beall Center, which is open noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and Friday until 8 p.m. Admission is free. For more information visit or call (949)824-4339.

About the University of California, Irvine:
The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to research, scholarship and community. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 23,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,300 faculty members. The third-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.