The Treachery of Sanctuary is a large-scale interactive triptych devoted to the history of the birth, death, ancient spirituality, and transfiguration of the human form. The artist has designed an interactive experience in which the audience comes in contact with a series of dynamic figures that leap out at them from the screens when they approach. The interactive canvases strike up a dialogue with the observers’ shadows thanks to a system designed with openFrameworks and Microsoft Kinect SDK for Windows that models 3D images in real time. The artist’s inspiration for this piece was the prehistoric paintings in the caves of Lascaux, which revealed the power of dance and physical movement to invoke transcendental human experiences 40,000 years ago. Each of the three panels in the piece represents a stage of the mystical journey which the artist associates with his own creative process. The first panel is dedicated to birth: the spectator’s body disintegrates into a flock of rising birds, representing the moment of human and artistic conception. In the second panel the birds begin to twist and writhe, manifesting violence and a near-deadly attack. Finally, in the third panel, a superior winged form of gigantic proportions emerges, illustrating the original transcendence of the human narrative. Through this piece, Chris Milk shows viewers a progression of metaphors that call our attention to the mysticism described by even the most ancient cultures, while also demanding that they become active agents and carriers of a physical experience which draws them into the work’s creative process.
About the author
Chris Milk is an American artist, director and photographer who first gained recognition creating music videos for artists including U2, Kanye West, and Arcade Fire. In 2008 he directed the second unit of A Mother’s Promise for Barack Obama’s introduction at the DNC, and his short film Last Day Dream (2009) has played at film festivals around the world. In recent years, Milk has focused on using cross-media innovations to enhance emotional human storytelling, exposing the beauty in the things – physical, digital, intangible – that connect us all. His technologically pioneering work includes The Johnny Cash Project (2010), both The Wilderness Downtown (2010) and Summer Into Dust (2011) with Arcade Fire, and Hello, Again (2013) with Beck. His artwork has been shown at MoMA and The Tate Modern. His most recent installation, The Treachery of Sanctuary, has been exhibited in San Francisco, Paris, Sao Paulo, Beijing, Seoul, and London. Industry accolades include the Grand Prix Cannes Lion, SXSW’s Best of Show, D&AD Black Pencil, The Grand Clio, MTV Moon Men and multiple Grammy nominations. He was born and raised in Glen Cove, NY and lives in Los Angeles.