Scenic & Video Designer Lianne Arnold
Lianne is a video & scenic designer and inter-disciplinary artist working in theater, opera, music, dance, film & art installation. Her performance work has been seen in New York at The Kitchen, BAM, NYTW, HERE, La Mama, 3LD, Ars Nova, National Sawdust, Roulette, The Joyce, Baruch, 59E59 among others and in venues around the country and internationally. She was a production designer on the short film Toru premiering at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Along with Anna Rabinowitz, Kristin Marting & Matt Marks, she is the co-creator and video designer on Words on the Street premiering at Baruch in October 2018. She is also a co-creator along with Zoey Martinson & Jon Martin of Smoke & Mirrors Collaborative, theater artist Brina Stinehelfer, and interactive technology artist Xinyao Wang on #HashtagProject (workshops on Governor’s Island, NYC and at Delphi Theater, Berlin). Lianne works as a content artist and video designer with Blue Man Productions and as a repeated video designer with Jane Comfort & Company. She regularly collaborates with composers, music groups and visual artists and her installation and video art has been exhibited in galleries in New York and New Jersey including The Actors’ Fund and BRIC. Her past music-visual collaborations have been with Beth Morrison Projects, Invisible Anatomy, Earl Maneein of Seven Suns, Robin Cox’s Hourglass, and John King’s experimental opera Dice Thrown. Her collaborators in the visual arts have included Leslie Kerby (Counterpointe/Brooklyn Ballet/BRIC and more), Natalia Margolis, Fariba Alam & Urban Matter Design Firm (Bare Branches – Shrine Empire Gallery, New Delhi). Among Lianne’s many associate design credits, she is most proud of her work on the Julie Taymor directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Theatre For a New Audience in 2013, on Universes’ Party People at The Public Theatre in 2016 (Liesl Tommy dir./Sven Ortel designer) and Marvel Universe Live! with designer Bob Bonniol of MODE Studios in 2014. Lianne was named a "Young Designer to Watch" by Live Design Magazine in 2015, is a member of Wingspace Design Collective, and proudly earned her MFA from CalArts.
Upcoming and recent performance design includes:
Blue Man Group Chicago Refresh - associate projection design and content creation (October 2018)
Words on the Street - a music theater work at Baruch in collaboration with writer Anna Rabinowitz, composer Matt Marks, and director Kristin Marting (October 2018)
The Hello Girls - a musical at 59E59 with Prospect Theatre Company (November 2018)
Train With No Midnight - a music theater work composed by Joseph Keckler at HERE Arts as part of the 2019 Prototype Festival (January 2019)
Grimm Tales - associate projection design at Ballet Austin (March 2019)
Love Heals All Wounds - an international dance tour premiering at Royce Hall, UCLA. Choreographed and directed by “Movement Art Is” dancers Lil Buck & Jon Boogz’ with dramaturgy by Talvin Wilks and produced by Sozo Artists. (May 2019)
I focus on new and experimental uses of video and sculpted spaces in performance.
As a visual storyteller, I strive to integrate design and action and thrive on intense collaboration. Scenery needs to be more than just a backdrop setting time and place, and video in performance has so much potential to activate the theatrical reality in a completely new way. I tend to make my first moves into a design through tactile points of entry by finding textures and materials that have emotional resonance, then carving out volume and finding metaphor.
Video in performance has widened the door for exploration of psychological arcs and character in addition to being able to manipulate our perceptions of time and space. The possibilities for video to defy expectations and radically alter point of view are exciting and still very new. I am interested in exploring video as character, as a physical being in the room, in active dialogue with the set, costumes, lights and especially the performers. Exploring alternative projection surfaces or emissive sources. Opening up the live environment with the toolkit of expressive cinematic techniques. How does a digital image live in the space; what relationship does it have to the characters; how is it a character itself?
I don’t think twice about the validity of creating a performance at the bottom of a well or on a freeway overpass or in a mountain stream. Performance can happen anywhere. The important thing is to create work, tell stories and respect the truth of what objects communicate while existing in the space activated in front of you.
A note on video in performance:
I am both a scenic and video designer and because of this, I am very interested in integration between the two. My video design work tends to take on a haptic, tactile quality and I spend a lot of time considering how and where content lives onstage. I love experimenting with different projection surfaces — a falling wall of sand, white paint smeared on a mirror, a human or puppet face — and alternate emissive devices — an ipad or an old, broken TV. When it comes to content creation, I’m drawn to the physical world. I tend to start by filming — exploring textures, light & characters so that they can live onstage in a different scale and manifestation. I also like exploring the system, the means of delivering content onstage, as a theatrical device, scenically and conceptually. Is there live feed — are we aware of the cameras? Are the projectors fully visible as objects onstage? Is the audience aware of how content is collected, processed & delivered onstage — and what does that mean in the context of the story?
The challenge in bringing video to the stage is in finding the visual and structural language of the video content and it's delivery system so that it brings new depths of meaning to the performance text that did not exist prior to video in the space. What do we see too much of: a rectangular screen behind the action with rear projections of scenic drops or other illustrative elements, in essence, a superfluous layer thrown on top of the spectacle. That kind of strictly scenic use of video imagery is only a tiny example of the possibilities of media in a storytelling format. And, at the end of the day, it is about storytelling. Video in performance is most exciting when it takes on a character of it’s own. Video should tap into a psychological arc of the story. It can be an enhancement of our protagonists' experience or act as a counterpoint to it. Physically, it can radically alter point of view and our perceptions of time, space, scale & physics. And it has the entire expressive world of cinema to pull from - closeups, cut rhythms, point of view shifts. At the end of the day, a video design should be so integrated within the event that to take it out would be a major degradation of the experience.