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Different way for us to tell it September 12, 2008

Posted by Lee Cherry in 1.
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Different way for us to tell it...

With a collective history bordering on 300 years, New Bern has its share of lively and animated raconteurs. On Friday (Sept. 12th, 2008), just how animated those storytellers are will be on public display and projected for viewing on the side of a downtown building.

“New Bern Stories,” the culmination of an extensive public art video, premieres that day following ArtWalk on the corner of Middle and Broad streets. Best screening is from New Bern Sculpture Park. Take a lawn chair. Also take your imagination. This is a slice of New Bern history as it’s never been cut before.

“What we said was, let’s do something that’s really a wow,” said Mitch Lewis, a sculptor, a member of Craven Arts Council and principal grant writer for the project.

So they did.

With funding from N.C. Arts Council and local sources, Lewis and other members of the council were able to buy and beg the technical expertise of N.C. State professor Patrick Fitzgerald and the team he directs in the advanced media lab of the school’s College of Design.

The result: a 20-minute video that turns New Bern residents into puppet figures and places them in animated environments to illustrate the real stories they tell.

“It took 20 people working for three months to complete it,” Fitzgerald said.

It also took dozens of interviews and stories ranging from New Bern National Cemetery to James City.

The design team conducted discussions during three weekends with storytellers sitting in front of a blue screen in New Bern’s Bank of the Arts. The screen allowed Fitzgerald and his students to remove the body of the narrator, retain the head and animate both teller and story – the puppetry of “The Year Without a Santa Claus” meets New Bern.

Yet so many tellers and stories appeared during those three weekends, Fitzgerald’s major concern didn’t involve technology or cost, but time. What the filmmaker is most apprehensive about is the number of stories that had to be left out.

“I’m worried about that,” he said.

Lewis is less uneasy.

“We got hundreds of stories we had to cut,” he said, but an addition to the project could include more public viewings and online showings with outtakes and narration that didn’t make it into the original film.

The project could also include a new annual art venue in New Bern, the artist said.

“It’s possible,” said Lewis, “an animated film festival. It’s about bringing more art into New Bern.”

***

If you are going…

What: New Bern Stories, a public art video

When: Friday, Sept 12th, 8 p.m.

Where: Sculpture Park, corner of Middle and Broad streets, New Bern

Cost: Free

Contacts: Craven Arts Council & Gallery (252) 638-2577

You should know: Take chairs or blankets; this is an outdoor event and there is no rain date, contact Craven Arts Council & Gallery in event of inclement weather. No alcoholic beverages are allowed in Sculpture Park

[via Tom Mayer, Sun Journal]

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