The exterior of the Moss Arts Center comes alive with visual stories created by Virginia Tech faculty and students for “Illuminating Flight and Refuge,” a collection of outdoor projection projects designed to activate the center’s 2020-21 season theme, “Flight and Refuge.”

Presented in partnership with the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT), the projections can be viewed on various exterior surfaces of the Moss Arts Center, which is located at 190 Alumni Mall, from Nov. 5 - Nov. 8 and again from Nov. 12 - Nov. 15, weather permitting, from 7- 10 p.m. Those viewing the installation should observe university guidelines, wearing face coverings/masks and maintaining 6

-foot physical distancing.

Teams of Virginia Tech faculty and students blend technology, mapping, personal narratives, and data to tell stories of flight and refuge. The theme “Flight and Refuge” is meant to highlight the human necessity of refuge during times of crisis and the duality of flight as both a means of escape and a soaring act of beauty. The center’s current season features theatrical and musical projects, artists, and speakers addressing topics like war survival, chosen and forced migration, and geography that disregards national and colonial borders.

This work is supported in part by a gift from Jack and Linda Davis.

The project teams include faculty and students from the School of Performing Arts; School of Visual Arts; Department of Religion and Culture; University Libraries; School of Architecture and Design; Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science (ARIES) group; and Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology.

 The projections featured in “Illuminating Flight and Refuge” are:

“borderless species”     

“borderless species” is a video-based choreographic performance work for projection mapping that examines a poetic taxonomy of borders. Using movement, projected dimensionality, and video and image processing, the work interprets many layers of frontier spaces. Using a virtual rehearsal process, microphotography, and imagery taken from the environments of North America, Mexico, and France, an international team of artists creates a choreographic journey through the many cultural, linguistic, and biological borders that bind us together.

“History and Images of Refugees from ‘Casablanca’ to Today”

Today’s global refugee crisis has more than doubled in scale just in the past 10 years. Many refugees have fled North Africa and the Middle East in search of safety from war zones and political persecution, but flight in the opposite direction — from Europe to North Africa and the Middle East — was common during the 20th century, especially during World War II and after. Powerful and familiar images of this history appear in the opening minutes of the classic 1942 film “Casablanca.” This project connects today’s global refugee crisis to imagery from this beloved film and serves as a reminder that today’s refugees may once have been welcoming hosts, and that flight and refuge are central to the histories of many societies.

“Within These Borders”

The concept and inception of this visually striking 3D concept project is constructed around the idea of passing through borders. The objects and animations will pass through the borders of their bounding volume as those experiencing flight or seeking refuge must pass through the borders of their environment. The work’s 3D illusions allude to the borders of perception. The virtual environment of “Within These Borders” is designed to be responsive to the Moss Arts Center’s architecture and unique characteristics, providing a truly site- and theme-specific work.

“Through the Eyes”

The goal of this short film is to embrace the inclusivity, diversity, and community of the Virginia Tech campus through a focus on the uniqueness of eyes. During this time of COVID-19 and mask-wearing, eyes have become very important in the process of communicating emotions to others. This piece features a compilation of close-up shots of eyes — the eyes of people from across the Virginia Tech campus and the town of Blacksburg. Zoomed in on the eyes, the shots slowly pan out to reveal entire faces. 

“Land Forms: Inequity Boundaries”

Boundaries — whether imposed, geographic, or of the mind — take on physical forms within shared landscapes. The conflict between an inequity and a boundary is often the cause for migration, the impetus for flight, and the struggle to find refuge and free access to opportunity. Stack animations sampled from aerial photographs seek to reveal indicator conditions or evidence of inequality — economic inequity, geographic inequity, confinement, environmental blight, and xenophobia — and expose formally unseen dividing lines that exist within shared spaces.

Community members are invited to enjoy these projects while simultaneously examining their own lives and the maps that have yet to been drawn.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge.

— Written by Peyton Manfre