In a renaissance town like Santa Cruz—where every other resident is in a band, or paints, or writes poetry—standing out from the crowd is not necessarily an easy gig. Getting a chance to share your talent with the community can present an even bigger challenge.
Denise Gallant, a video editing teacher at Cabrillo College and co-producer of the recently released documentary “The Catalyst,” hopes to change all that.
Beginning at 8:30 p.m. Friday, August 5, Gallant’s newly produced TV series, “In the Loop: Art & Technology,” will air on CTV (Community Television of Santa Cruz County), and afford local artists and creative minds the opportunity to showcase their work.
“Santa Cruz is a hot bed of art and technology,” says Gallant. “You don’t have to look far to find people who are inventing new things. We hope people who watch the show will be inspired and begin to think of new ways that art and technology are present in their lives.”
To kick off the series—which will feature artists like dancer/choreographer Tandy Beal, 2011 Santa Cruz County Artist of the Year Phil Collins, and Academy Award winning sound designer Peter Elsea, plus various local musicians, authors and tech experts—Gallant will host “The Art of Burning Man.” The episode will get fans psyched for the annual festival with a panel including a former manager of the Burning Man building crew, plus two long-time interactive audio sculptors, and Tesla Coil performers.
One of the first women in UCSC’s Electronic Music Department, Gallant has spent her entire professional life integrating art and technology, primarily through video and music production. And considering her resume boasts work with Image West—one of the first high-end special effects video studios in Los Angeles—and several other broadcast companies including CBS New York, ABC New York and NBC Los Angeles, it seems she’s more than ready to tackle the topic onscreen.
“Art and technology is such a broad theme,” laughs Gallant. “It’s hard to wrap my head around it.” To find a definition of both words and get a sense of how they relate, Gallant says she and her production team—including former student and “In the Loop” director Ron Powell—began looking at electricity, then went further back in history, until they found themselves discussing how sound was first produced in ancient caves.
Eventually, the group landed at the conclusion that anything—whether it be art, music or media—could fall into one cohesive realm. “These days, there aren’t many divisions between art and technology,” says Gallant. “Film people have film fests, musicians have live venues—but art and technology doesn’t really have a voice.”
Opportunities for expressing that voice have become increasingly rare over the last decade, as arts programs have fallen under the budget cut guillotine. For Gallant, the failing economy impacts her livelihood every day. “We’ve heard about it at the high school level and elementary level, now it’s hitting us at Cabrillo,” she says. “Next year, one of my classes has been cut, so I’m looking for a grant to promote media education.”
She adds that every year her 18-65 students are faced with the stark reality that opportunities in Santa Cruz for media production are limited to Digital Media Factory and Community TV. “Where do young people go after they leave Cabrillo?” she asks. “CTV is full of my students—some of them have been there for three years.”
Gallant hopes that “In the Loop” will serve as an outlet for those artists whose voices and creativity may have been silenced by the economy, plus anyone who could use a platform to showcase his/her talents.
“We want the show to be a bridge between the kind of activities going on in New York and those that are happening here,” says Gallant. “We don’t live in Kansas—we do have an artistic and talented group of people here.”
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