Of Electronics, Strikes, and French Paint

Matt Shattuck is the Exhibition Manager/Producer for VOOM PORTRAITS Robert Wilson -- which means he is one of the people many of us here at the UIMA have been communicating with via email for months, and are just now getting to meet as he is in town to help install the exhibition. Here, Matt talks about installing VOOM all over the world, from Russia and Italy to New York and L.A. -- and now Iowa!

First off I want to thank all the great people at UIMA who've worked so hard to make this exhibition so welcomed and the installation so smooth. It's the biggest and most complete exhibition of these video portraits to-date and there's no way it could have been done without the unbelievable support of all in Iowa.

Personally, the most gratifying part of producing this exhibition is not only traveling to places I haven't been before, but also working "hands on" with talented and motivated people the world over. It's one thing to visit new places, but another to spend long exhausting days building such an intricate exhibition with great people, who sometimes don't speak a lick of English. It all brings humanity to a very simple and personal level. It makes you realize how people the world over are basically the same because our core interests are the same.

I have great memories of taking espresso breaks (the miniature high octane espresso delivered by a guy in a paper hat mind you) in Naples with a fun-loving group of Italians, or Neapolitans as they would correct me. Or the technical marvel and precision at which the Russians would rig the hardware to hang a 250lb plasma from a 200 year-old marble wall. Or a guy in LA happily spending 2 days in a dusty crawl space in the ceiling so we could wire our equipment properly. And now working with such a talented group of people at UIMA is another great experience. The organization, commitment and execution from all the people here will indeed make this exhibition a memorable one.

In many ways this exhibition is very predictable because the moving parts are always the same. Yet on the other hand, there are lots of variables surrounding these predictable moving parts that change every time, providing both the stress and fun part of the job. Like trying to source a specific type of projection paint in Moscow and finding out the only place we can buy it is in France. And then finding out the real problem is not sourcing it but finding a way to get it cleared through Russian customs in time. Or delicately negotiating with an iron worker in Naples to reconstruct stands he perfectly built after we changed our spec at the last minute. Or in every case trying not to get thrown out the window by our supportive crew after we determine for the umpteenth time a screen has to be repositioned. My favorite was the entire trucking industry in Italy going on strike the day all of our equipment was to be picked up and flown back to the US. Somehow (read: I don't want to know) we managed to have a police car escort our truck during a midnight pickup so that we could get our 9.5 tons of gear transported as planned. However, I can say the work done before we arrived and general attention to detail from UIMA's fine team has most definitely made this installation incredibly professional and smooth.

We are most honored to bring this exhibition to UIMA and sincerely hope the university and community will benefit from and enjoy it.

Thank you all very much.

Matthew Shattuck
Exhibition Manager / Producer
VOOM Portraits Robert Wilson

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