In his explorations of movement, change, and rhythm, multimedia artist David Ellis effectively combines his talent for visual representation with his passion for musical expression. The confluence of the visual and the aural typifies the wide range of his artwork, from stop-motion videos to kinetic sculptures to live painting performances. By utilizing various elements of music making—collaboration, improvisation, timing, repetition— Ellis enlivens his creative process and thus his viewer’s experience.
Born in North Carolina in January 1971, Ellis grew up immersed in the various musical styles practiced by several family members. His brother, John, a tenor saxophonist, plays in jazz venues across the globe. Two of his uncles are musicians—one is a classically trained flautist, and another is a piano technician and player. His maternal grandmother was a pump organist who led her church’s choir. Although Ellis lacked the patience to learn how to read and play music as a child, he eventually found ways of expressing rhythms and sounds, but through visual forms.
The process of exploring sound is interpreted into his kinetic installations and sculptures that produce analogue sequences in rhythm; blurring the line between sculpture and music. The paintings are frequently improvised working directly on the walls of spaces that remain open to the public during installation and shares the making of the work with viewers. The experience is much like a band playing in front of a passing audience.
The results are not derived using a scientific method or computer algorithms but come from an analogue practice of working daily, layer upon layer, culling the ideas from a combination of memory, observation and experimentation. Over the process of making artwork, the density ebbs and flows, builds up, is destroyed, and rebuilds until eventually a kind of truce is drawn between artist and the work. I let go and embrace the kinetic implications of moving the energy.