As Part of Aurora, There Will Be Mind-Reading Art at the New MAC Location

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Your brain will control some of the art at Weatherproof, the inaugural show at the MAC's new location in The Cedars. In "Lucid," Jeremy McKane's installation that addresses the toxicity in the ocean, visitors will be invited to wear an EEG device that will determine the images on a screen. After five or 10 seconds, brain activity is measured with a focus on meditative abilities.

“If they can hold 60 percent meditation levels they are rewarded with beautiful scenery as opposed to scenery of underwater plastic,” says McKane. The idea is that the planet will change if people change the way they think, which can happen very quickly: “Instead of taking 15 years to do it, it can be done in less than 30 seconds.” If you can relax and breathe, you will be rewarded for your calm mental state. But if your iPhone has you scatterbrained and unable to focus, you’ll have to take a look at what McKane often sees.

As a longtime underwater fashion photographer, McKane has created a large body of work. But it eventually bothered him that he wasn’t doing anything other than making pretty pictures. “Some of the places I go to shoot are fairly remote,” says McKane. “You could be there for a week and never see another human being. And yet there’s evidence of human beings because there is plastic everywhere. Over time it just really started to wear on me.”

Researching the issue did not make McKane feel any better. It actually created a sense of urgency that is reflected in this work of art. “By 2048, it’s predicted that the ... fisheries of the world will collapse if this problem isn’t solved,” says McKane. “By 2025, for every three tons of fish in the ocean there will be one ton of plastic,” he continues. He admits that the situation is dire, but "Lucid" is not meant to convey a message of doom and gloom.

McKane is quick to point out that there are lots of people trying to remove plastic from the ocean and even find uses for it. Technology can help fix some of these problems, but more people also have to care. “For centuries art has influenced culture,” says McKane. With that in mind, he decided to give it a try. "Lucid" was first exhibited weeks ago in Bogota.

“Having people control an art installation with their minds is quite a stretch until they try it for the first time,” McKane says. He says he probably looked like a heretic at first in Colombia, but as soon as someone put on the helmet he could hear the amazement. At the end of the day, McKane simply hopes that people will look at the world around them and think about it differently. “Plastic will exist long after you and I are dead,” he says. “Something has to be done.”

The rest of the inaugural show at the MAC’s massive new location in The Cedars will have both Dallas-based and national artists displaying their work in two exhibitions. Weatherproof is the 21st-annual membership show, with MAC members exhibiting their work outside the building. Inside is one of the final exhibits tied to this year’s Aurora, the large-scale biennial public art event.

The Weatherproof works will be on display for a week, and the artists, who include Carolyn Sortor, have been encouraged to exhibit freestanding sculptures. “It kind of symbolizes the fact that the MAC has been in Dallas and supporting the arts and offering exhibits free of charge for the past 20 years,” says Rachel Rogerson, director of the MAC. “So we feel we’ve been weatherproof and lasted for quite a while.”

But inside, the Aurora artists will focus on new media and the work will be on display for one night only. This is appropriate because one of the new MAC's galleries will also focus on new media. Construction has not yet started on this massive building, a former Ford dealership and showroom that closed in 1962. After being unused for decades, the warehouse is now cleared out and skeletal. The plan is for the building to be completed late 2016. The MAC will be part of a commercial development with offices and a lobby, and Ro2 Art will have a space in the building.

Curated by Shane Pennington and Joshua King, this edition of Aurora will feature work from Emelio Muñiz and a collaboration from Jeff Gibbons and Gregory Ruppe. Letitia Huckaby has a chapel-inspired piece with church pews and projections on an alter. There will also be live music from Jamal Mohamed Big Band and Warren Hood Band as well as a lecture by the MAC's architect, Dan Shipley.

Weatherproof Aurora 2015 takes places from 3 p.m.-midnight Saturday, October 17, at The MAC, 1601 S. Ervay St. Admission is free for MAC members and their guests. For more info, visit the-mac.org. 

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