McClain Gallery is pleased to announce the presentation of Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher's newest installation, Cliff Hanger, for FotoFest 2010. With this work, Shore and Fisher break new ground in the development of these sophisticated "story-telling machines". Cliff Hanger's narrative is assembled from five separate scene generating machines compacted into the most powerful installation they have ever produced.

Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher have been working together on these types of projects since 2002.  They have collaborated on numerous projects and their “machines” have exhibited in group and solo exhibitions nationwide, but the Shore-Fisher duo has been creating things together since childhood.

Jeff and Jon grew up together.  During high school, they created music together but they always envisioned a connection between music and visual art.  After going their separate ways for their undergraduate and graduate degrees, Jeff flew to Chicago  in 1993 where Jon was working on his doctorate in Music and the two old friends began working on an automated sound-producing sculpture.  “That was the beginning of the conversation that has continued to drive our work,” says Jeff.

Since 2002, Shore and Fisher’s creations have been considered equal partnerships but both artists play individual roles in this collaborative process.  Most of the what the view sees apart from the automated musical instruments is made by Jeff Shore.  Jon Fisher is the composer of the piece.  He creates all the sound components including the electronics and programming that run the musical elements.  Jeff then incorporates these musical elements into the rest of the piece. 

The true collaboration lies in the ideas for the piece that come before the construction begins.  During this phase and when putting finishing touches on the installations, Jeff and Jon often cross into each others territory as they both work to make everything perfect. 

"In each of the sculptures, there is a microcontroller acting as an electronic “brain” for that piece. The microcontroller has the ability to turn on and off the various motors and lights within the sculpture. It also has the ability to communicate with a central computer that is running the whole show. … The computer is then responsible for orchestrating the action of all of the sculptures, controlling the crossfading of the scenes between each sculpture, controlling the lighting in the gallery, and generating in real time the soundtrack that is accompanying the video output of the piece.

The fact that our devices are able to create an experience is the point. We do hope that the convincing combination of our disciplines is interesting and has meaning. We also realize that the viewer will have his/her own interpretation of our work and give it meaning within his/her own frame of reference. I think a successful piece is one that is ambiguous but seems specific while being experienced."

Cliff Hanger is a wall-based, electro-mechanical, sculptural installation which performs in real time to produce an integrated audio video sequence. The video seen on the monitor is a live feed and originates from within the sculpture itself. Eight tiny surveillance cameras offer glimpses into to four hidden, miniature, hand built scenes. The soundtrack is the product of custom algorithms which compose music in real time using digital audio samples. In addition a handmade, automatic, electro-acoustic instrument adds a physical accompaniment. The soundtrack is unique for every activation.