Me, me, me.
Jack Phelan is a video artist who specialises in integrating new visual ideas and technology into live performance. This year he was video designer on Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh’s new opera – The Second Violinist – right after working with the same creative team on Arlington, also by Enda Walsh.
For Man of Valour, he worked with The Corn Exchange and actor Paul Reid to develop a neo-noir world of atmospherics and shadow using 3D modelling, lighting-through-projection and real-time animation. Man of Valour won the Best Design award at the 2011 Dublin Fringe Festival. In 2010 he combined wireless cameras and real-time post-production to bring the audience closer to the cast of the award-winning Freefall. Other theatrical credits include Dubliners (The Corn Exchange / Dublin Theatre Festival), World to Come (Cryptic Theatre, Glasgow), Alice in Funderland (TIPB / Abbey Theatre), The Lulu House and MacBeth (Siren Productions), Love and Money (Hatch Theatre) and Woman & Scarecrow (Siren / Abbey).
Jack was also a core member of the creative / tech team behind Playhouse, a large-scale interactive lighting installation for public expression. Produced for Dublin Theatre Festival in 2009, Playhouse turned Dublin’s Liberty Hall into an 11 storey, full-colour video display that displayed animations submitted by the public to music synchronised with Dublin City FM.
Less fancy bio
I’ve been interested in video art & technology for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been working to integrate it into live performance for about twelve years. I’ve a degree and a masters in Computer Science and initially gave the whole software developer thing a go but left after a year to work as a theatre technician. I left Google for the circus. I’ll never look back :)
The experience I developed working in venues like Project Arts Centre and The Abbey Theatre in Dublin as stage hand, LX crew, sound / LX op, gallery technician etc. was an amazing eduation that I somehow received while being paid! Thankfully, my video and software development skills got noticed and I started getting video design roles. I realise now how important those years of working freelance on many productions and festivals were - I know theatre and other performance environments inside-out. I am excited by the possibilites of video but also keenly aware of how it can upset the balance of a production, especially if the design is ill-conceived and / or badly executed.
I usually work alone, but on bigger projects it’s better to collaborate or have an assistant, and I can happily lead a team. I love the development phase of script reading and chatting with directors and other designers, and I work hard to get the most out of it. I am able to and love doing all parts of the often complex process of bringing a concept to a final piece of content. I plan, sketch, shoot, edit, animate, post-produce, colour-grade, illustrate, code, plot, rig, sync... I like learning new skills and techniques for particular projects.
What gets me excited is when I’m invited to be part of a creative team early in the process, ideally before any set or lighting design concepts have been finalised. Video design usually works best when it’s developed early enough to have a chance at informing or influencing other design decisions and vice versa.