Eric Dyer: Making Sculptures that Come to Life

Eric Dyer ‘04 (Mount Royal School of Art M.F.A.) brings animation into the present, physical world in an immersive and interactive way, and his latest piece for Light City Baltimore 2017 does this by allowing the public to create the art as the sculptures come to “animated life,” as he puts it, when spun by festival goers.

After years as a professional animator, staring at a screen for work that would be shown on the screen, Dyer wanted to get his hands on something physical. He became interested in the idea of reinventing the old-fashioned zeotrope — the 19th-century cylindrical “optical toy” that showed mini-movies before cinema existed — and has pioneered the creation of 3D, interactive animation.

“MICA helped me grow paths of thinking about my work,” he said.

For Light City, Dyer’s “Shabamanetica” shows a story of interconnected cultures, exploring how the recent expansion of the Panama Canal promises an increased tie between China and Baltimore.

“I shot video in these three places and selectively collaged them onto two 7-foot diameter discs that evoke ship’s wheels,” he explained. “When the public spins a wheel, a synchronous overarching strobe activates the layered sequences of images, bringing them to animated life.”

“When I went to the festival last year,” Dyer recalled, “everyone seemed in awe and enthusiastic about engaging with the work. It felt like a celebration of the best parts of America: innovation, creativity and diversity. Baltimore is all about those three words and Light City brought it all forth.”

Artist, filmmaker and educator, Dyer’s work has been widely exhibited at events and venues such as the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, Ars Electronica, the London International Animation Festival, the screens of Times Square, and the Cairo and Venice Biennales. He has been honored as a Fulbright Fellow, Sundance New Frontier Artist, Creative Capital Artist, Guggenheim Fellow, and in 2015 was awarded the Mary Sawyers Baker Prize.