This summer, the Exploratorium in San Francisco hosted Associate Art Professor Lia Halloran’s new installation, Double Horizon, in its Black Box gallery space. It is an immersive three-screen video experience that captivates the viewer in Halloran’s portraits of Los Angeles. The video footage was shot from cameras mounted to a plane piloted by Halloran as the artist was learning to fly. The process took over two years and thirty flights.

Halloran developed the installation with three Wilkinson College alumni, Lucille Henderson (’21, Communication major, Art and Africana Studies minor), Garret Hill (’18, Studio Art major), and Adam Ottke (‘13, Art major and Journalism and Advertising minor). The three all played pivotal roles on the projects, and gained invaluable experience as they embarked on their professional careers. Through the process, they learned that each gallery has its own special requirements, such as, how the audio sounds in the room, the distance available for projection throw distance, where the viewer can be positioned, and how to organize and hide all the wiring.

“It was also a fun experience building this installation,” said Hill. “Once all of these elements were properly installed, we would flip the switch and the piece would come to life. Let me tell you, seeing and hearing Double Horizon play after a few days of tedious installation will never get old. It is truly an out of body experience that I look forward to every time,” he said.

Hill worked as the editor of the film and the main technology point person for the installation. He and Halloran worked very closely through the entire editing process and bounced hundreds of ideas off each other regarding the film and specific flight elements to include in the piece, including how the overall film should carry a viewer throughout the narrative.

“I had worked on a large number of personal film projects, commissioned projects and video pieces for friends and family prior to Double Horizon, but I had never worked on a project like this with such an abundance of footage to pull from in order to build the film. There must be more than 20-30 hours of flight footage stored on Lia’s studio hard drives that we both thoroughly sifted through, finding bits of her flights that we wanted to highlight in Double Horizon while also experiencing a good amount of heartbreak,” said Hill.

The team of artists often ran into issues, such as digging into the memory card only to find that the camera had frozen during flight due to high altitudes, which meant missing key shots that they wanted.

Double Horizon, Exploratorium.

“It was truly an incredible and humbling experience working with such a fickle recording process, where our footage was only as good as the flight conditions and what the cameras were physically capable of capturing. Lia’s flight skills were already phenomenal so that took a lot of the guesswork out of the equation,” he said.

“The piece would not be what it is without every detail worked out so perfectly.” said Ottke.

Henderson, who currently resides in the Bay Area, helped the team with the onsite installation. “I was very grateful to be able to participate in the installation process of Professor Halloran’s exhibition. As an emerging artist, being able to see how they engaged with the Exploratorium art director, staff, and installation crew has informed much of my understanding of what needs to happen to exhibit art professionally,” said Henderson.

“To see the exhibit come together on the day of the opening reminded me of how magnetic of a person Lia is, and how gracefully they bring you into their orbit and connect you to other brilliant people that are circling hers. It is always a pleasure to work and learn from how they practice art and life,” she said.

Check out Professor Halloran’s short video on the project!