The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 28, 2013

MSU student Charles Duda's 'The Big Event' mixes violence and ice cream

MSU student's 'Big Event' mixes violence and ice cream

By Tanner Kent
tkent@mankatofreepress.com

---- — Visitors to Charles Francis Duda's art exhibition on Monday will be served ice cream.

They may not finish, however, amidst the Minnesota State University master's student's video-fueled assault of violent and disturbing imagery.

"It is an assault," said Duda, who also represents half of the innovative instrumental rock duo Crash Cuddle. "But what isn't an assault on the psyche these days? I don't see any harm in a little re-exposure."

In what is perhaps the first video installation by a student artist in the 17-projector, technological behemoth known as MSU's Centennial Student Union Ballroom, Duda has orchestrated an unsettling and incongruous experience for viewers.

"The Big Event" consists of a short video created by Duda that displays scenes of graphic and implied violence in rapid succession. Scenes of genocide, child abuse, bear attacks, natural disasters, war and self-immolation are machine-gunned at viewers — the assault made even more disorienting by the fact that each of the Ballroom's projection screens will be showing the video from a different starting point.

Add to the experience a darkly arresting soundtrack of nature sounds punctuated by explosions and thunderclaps, and the barbarity on screen begins to assume a sort of crescendo, as if building speed before being deposited in the lap of the viewer.

Furthermore, Duda said the ice cream cones served to visitors act as a grounding mechanism for the violence they see on screen.

"It makes the interaction more of a bodily experience because there is an innocence to ice cream," he said. "'The Big Event' is a rebirthing of perspective on how we treat each other."

Duda's final video is upward of 15 minutes long — "Long enough to eat an ice cream," he noted — and was built largely with stock footage. His editing is crisp and succinct, which lends an inevitable quality to the graphic imagery. Additionally, all of the footage has been rendered in black and white to underscore the timelessness of violence.

"I used the title ('The Big Event') to signify something moving, something important," Duda said, "an opportunity for a self-realizing moment."

If You Go What "The Big Event" video installation Where Centennial Student Union Ballroom, on MSU campus When 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ice cream will be served only at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Admission Free and open to the public