Sal is a mixed media, sound and performance artist based in Chicago, US. He notes that his initial artistic abilities and commitment stems from music, as a drummer and percussionist. During his youth, taking part in extra-curricular musical organisations such as Drum Corps International and Winter Guard International developed his musical capabilities, and following college, he wanted to continue keeping this major characteristic of himself alive.
Exploring digital realms
Cosmic escape is an exploration into the relationship between isolation and space, and the merging of real and virtual spaces. The work uses augmented reality to transport the user to a digital realm. As the user moves through physical space, they simultaneously move through virtual space and this link between real and virtual is used to explore the connection between isolation and space. In the audio excerpt below, Sal gives a comprehensive explanation of the work and the collaboration with James and Gabrielle.
‘My final piece Cosmic Escape is an augmented reality project utilizing the concept of portals. Upon launching the project, one sees what they would normally see through their phone’s camera. After scanning the surroundings, a blue marker appears on the floor. Once a spot on the floor is selected, the screen is tapped to reveal a portal window to a virtual environment.
The first view of this alternate world is the figure of a woman far off in the distance, and a clear view of a galaxy in the sky. The user is then able to physically move through their own space to enter this other world, where sounds are triggered and they are audibly immersed in soft, ambient night sounds. This other world/dimension/universe consists of various standalone trees, glowing orbs, nebulas, stars and galaxies strewn throughout the sky, and images from the other artists I collaborated with.
This image was an inspiration for how I went about mapping out this world. One is a photo that James took, and the other is Gabrielle’s interpretation of that photo in the form of a painting. I treated this project as a way to immerse myself in a completely different world, without having to leave the confines of my apartment. Overall, this piece is my representation of the conversations we had about isolation, and includes the inspiration I got from working with Gabrielle and James.’
Devising and Collaboration
‘I knew that I wanted to create some type of augmented reality experience. When I thought of isolation, I kept coming back to being secluded in my living space, so my thought process was how can I make my immediate surroundings work for me? Initially, I thought of creating objects that an observer can spawn in the physical space. This would give an alternate way that we can creatively interact with our environment.
As the conversations with James and Gabrielle, we started thinking about isolation in the context of being out in the world, surrounded by others yet still holding that same feeling of being alone. This imagery then turned into depicting a single person in a vast, open space, and that’s what I used as a foundation to start building out the virtual world.’
Working with Gabrielle and James
‘James and Gabrielle use a beautiful visual language to communicate their ideas in art. Experiencing their work and seeing the development of their projects throughout this collaborative process really inspired me to focus on the visual aspect of my own work. As I was working on my project, I would see updates from both artists and how they were coming along, which really drew me to hone in on creating this immersive experience that could be integrated with photography and painting.
Towards the end, this really cool thing happened where we would use elements from each others’ projects to mix in with our own scenes. For example, James would incorporate my skyboxes in his photos, and I would take his models and include them in the virtual scene I was building.’
To explore other works from this collaboration group, click on the images below. To return to the main exhibition page, click on The Collaborator’s Project banner.
EXISTENCE, James George Potter
THE MODERN DAY SUBLIME, Gabrielle Dalsan
(Oil on canvas)
Discover More from Sal
I can attribute most of my commitment as an artist to my past experience as a musician. In middle school, high school, and most of college, I was dedicated to building my skills as a drummer/percussionist by participating in marching band and other competitive groups outside of school. Organizations such as Drum Corps International (DCI) and Winter Guard International (WGI) kept me occupied most weekends with rehearsals and competitions. Since these organizations look to support and provide these opportunities for the youth, there are age restrictions implemented; once a person turns 21/22, they are no longer eligible to participate.
Once I aged-out, I felt the need to find a way to continue keeping this major characteristic of myself as part of what I was doing academically. After learning about stuff like audio synthesis, micro-controllers, circuitry, film-making, music production, and computer science, I wanted to try and combine these with my experience as a drummer and performer.
And that’s what I’m doing now, trying to mush all of it together, trying to find a balance within a chaotic creative process, and ultimately just trying to unearth the artistic and creative self.
Currently, the most rewarding aspect of being an artist is the freedom to cultivate personal projects. Identifying an interest in an idea and having the agency to pursue this idea from conception to execution is extremely rewarding. Every project is treated like my own little baby, and I learn so much from each one.
The most difficult part sometimes is finding the inspiration to start a new project and continue a current one. It can at times be easy to lose faith in something that I’m working on or not know where to go next. I’ve learned that taking breaks can help rejuvenate the creative process and bring about new ideas or support current ones. This, coupled with conversations with other artists, definitely motivates me to keep creating.