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‘Cyclopaedia’ brings new kind of art to Chattanooga

When it comes to art, people are used to labels.

Performances are either dance recitals or plays. There are concerts and then there are visual art exhibitions. Music and dance are generally only combined in musicals.

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Local artist and composer Tim Hinck works with a performer during preparation for the production “Cyclopaedia.” The multimedia performance is a new kind of performance that combines different elements of visual and performing arts into a discussion on communication and technology.

But one local artist is working to blur those lines in an upcoming presentation. Downtown resident and composer Tim Hinck is presenting a multimedia performance called “Cyclopaedia” later this month that combines all types of art into a visual essay that explores the themes of technology, communication and how the two interact.

“‘Cyclopaedia’ will look a lot like a piece of experimental theater,” said Hinck. “It’s experimental in the true sense of the word because we’re not exactly sure how it will go until performance night.”

With unscripted elements like audience participation and an “after talk” that will give audience members the opportunity to engage in a discussion with the cast and director after the performance, he said each night of the performance will be its own unique experience.

The performances, which will all be their own unique “happenings” that will never be reproduced, are Feb. 21-25 at 7:30 p.m. at Chattanooga High School’s Center for Creative Arts auditorium, located at 1301 Dallas Road. Admission costs $15 per person or $5 for students with a valid student ID.

In addition to incorporating local professionals in the production, Hinck also included 10 student interns from the high school in the performance.

“Some of the most engaged conversations we have had during the process have been with the students,” he said. “We’ve actually been able to incorporate some of that into the work. The topic may seem like a grown-up topic but it’s so pertinent to them.”

While modern art can sometimes give the impression that it lacks focus, Hinck said he really worked hard with this production to make sure it has a strong artistic voice. He said he wants the performance to create a discussion for people, but one that has direction.

“The general big picture topic is communication and technology and how our communication with each other is distorted or colored by the technology we use to communicate with each other,” said Hinck.

From the time of cavemen when people were limited in their message by the surfaces they painted on, the types of paint available to them and the application process, he said there have always been limitations to humans’ abilities to express themselves. In fact, the name of the production comes from the French’s first attempt to consolidate all human knowledge into volumes in the 1700s. That work was called the cyclopaedia, he said.

With this production and all of his work, the artist said he aims to start a conversation and get people discussing ideas or the shared human condition.

“Art is a conversation and not meant to tell you the answer to something or how it is,” said Hinck. “Good art leads a line of questions.”

For more information about the performance, contact the project’s manager Josh Hildebrandt at joshg.hildebrandt@gmail.com.

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