Like Magic

Jyl Kelley’s strange photo and installation art

Dacia Miller

THE HUNTER HAS BECOME THE MAGICKED. Jyl Kelley’s new series of photographs was created by surrounding her subjects with multiple digital cameras – one of them herself, dressed as a magician.
 
THE HUNTER HAS BECOME THE MAGICKED. Jyl Kelley’s new series of photographs was created by surrounding her subjects with multiple digital cameras – one of them herself, dressed as a magician.

Hats off to artists who push limits, explore new opportunities, and lead other aspiring artists to do the same as their passionate teachers. One such artist is UW-Eau Claire professor Jyl Kelley. Kelley’s art falls within the realm of photography, but you will find nothing usual about the pictures she’s taking. For example, in most of her work you can find this peculiar little character that she calls “the magician,” played by Kelley herself. By dressing as the magician, Kelley is able to be fully involved in the live creation of her art, which is a modern form of magic.

Jyl designed and built her own set of pinhole cameras, 33 of them to be exact, which are a primitive camera by today’s standards, but help her to bridge the gap between the past and present.

When the process of photography was first invented, photographers of the day were seen as magicians who were able to capture a moment in time, something seen as amazing and impossible. Jyl designed and built her own set of pinhole cameras, 33 of them to be exact, which are a primitive camera by today’s standards, but help her to bridge the gap between the past and present. With her cameras set up in a circle, a sort of “theater in the round,” Kelley can use her medium to create art that isn’t isolated to capturing just one moment in time.

Most recently, Jyl has exhibited at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts with an exhibit she calls “Home Theater.” This show revolves around her digital camera setup, similar to her pinhole theater only with fewer cameras, and mostly displays a friend of hers (fellow artist Joe Maurer) in full hunting attire shooting a rifle. Kelley remarked that “the association our society has with guns is powerful” and that “hunting can be seen as a sort of spectacle.” Just what she needs for her style of performance art. Jyl also took video and still photographs of her same friend playing a hunting video game in the Mabel Tainter Theater, which displays her examination into the advancement of our technology, how it affects our experiences, and what we lose and gain from that.

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