Last fall, the U-M Museum of Art invited community members to create a short video inspired by a work from the UMMA’s collection. Former Ann Arbor Film Festival director Donald Harrison helped lead workshops for the entrants–and decided to make a film himself. He chose as his inspiration “Ups and Downs,” a close-up painting of two smiling faces by Tyree Guyton.
Echoing Guyton’s group of fantastically decorated Detroit houses known as the Heidelberg Project, Harrison commissioned the artist to decorate a video portrait booth with found art ranging from old shoes to record sleeves. He then set the booth up in locations across Ann Arbor and Detroit over the summer, gathering footage of volunteers poking their heads inside and reacting to the brightly colored artifacts. Harrison overlaid digital effects on the 100-plus portraits taken in the booth, and assembled them into a short film, “I See Faces In All Places.” Like the other dozen films, it can be viewed online at umma.umich.edu; museum visitors can also summon then up by scanning smartphone QR codes located next to the artworks that inspired them. “Tyree has really reimagined what’s possible within a public space where you wouldn’t expect to find artwork, color, and vitality,” Harrison says. “I wanted to reimagine what’s possible in video space in much the same way.”