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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Matreyek casts an enchanting shadow at performance in Rudder

Miwa+Matreyek+uses+shadows+and+backlighting+in+her+visually+stunning+performance.
Photo by Photo by Brandon Holmes

Miwa Matreyek uses shadows and backlighting in her visually stunning performance.

Combining animation and acting, artist Miwa Matreyek performed her two pieces, “Myth and Infrastructure” and “This World Made Itself,” at the Rudder Forum on Thursday.
Based in Los Angeles, Matreyek is an animator, director, designer and performer. She studied animation and earned her Master of Fine Arts degree at the California Institute of the Arts, where the inspiration for her work began. Matreyek said the institute allowed her to branch outside her major and learn to collaborate with other art forms such as puppetry, theatre and film. She is also the co-founder and collaborator of the multi-media theater company Cloud Eye Control.
Matreyek began presenting her works in 2007, where she incorporated a unique spin to her animations by placing herself with them. She performs all around the world in various contexts such a universities and film festivals.
Matreyek’s performances for “Myth and Infrastructure” and “This World Made Itself” involve two projections of layered animation. Becoming a part of the story by interacting with her animations as a shadow silhouette, Matreyek uses the nuances of facial expressions and conveys a message using old film tropes while experimenting with new ones.
“When I’m done with a piece, I can’t imagine someone else being in that space,” Matreyek said. “I imagine my body as a storyteller through the process of making it. I want to be the one to tell the story.”
Gloria Villanueva attended the performance at A&M and said she felt a personal connection to the performance.
“It’s surreal,” Villanueva said. “It’s the mix of knowing that she’s there with the shadow and the animation how it shifts constantly. How is she doing it? It’s magical.”
“Myth and Infrastructure” premiered at TED Global 2010 in Oxford, England. It is a playful take on the power of creativity and discovery. Matreyek said it is an experimental piece where she introduces the audience to the technical aspects of her performance style. 
“A lot of the scenes are very domestic,” Matreyek said. “I look for a way that I can turn them into magical moments. It’s almost like a magic show.”
Matreyek said her other piece, “This World Made Itself,” is an investigation into the scientific idea of the history of the earth emotionally and physically. It premiered at the Wexner Center for Arts in Columbus, Ohio in 2013. It was inspired by the artist’s aerial views on plane rides where she saw the beauty and scars of the earth.
“My inspiration comes from asking questions like, ‘what does it feel like to be the earth itself?’” Matreyek said. “‘To be forming the planet, to be covered in lava — everything is on fire. What does that feel like?’”
Matreyek said she explores those questions with every performance of “This World Made Itself,” which tells a passionate story through symbols and metaphors as Matreyek embodies the earth’s evolution.
Assistant professor of performance studies James Ball invited Matreyek to visit his class the day of her performance. Ball attended her show later that evening and said he was fascinated.
“It’s just as much about those moments of perfection as it is about those moments of disconnection,” Ball said. “Where the live performance and the choreography match the projection perfectly versus those moments when the audience has to fill in the space. It invites audiences’ investment.”
Matreyek is currently working on a new piece that she said will be completed next year. It will explore the emotional depth of the earth through the events of global warming.
“There’s a sense of power and creativity you can have when you’re working alone,” Matreyek said. “When I finish the work, it feels like that night can go up forever.”

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