September 18, 2009 16:56 ET

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum Hosts Waterfall-Powered Cinema During International ArtPrize Event

Grand Rapids Native Scott Hessels Returns From Singapore to Debut "The Image Mill"

Piece Is Meant to Trigger Dialogue About How Alternative Energy Sources Can Be Part of Our Daily Lives

GRAND RAPIDS, MI--(Marketwire - September 18, 2009) - World-renowned artist, Scott Hessels continues creating media art with his never before seen "The Image Mill: Sustainable Cinema #1" cinema waterwheel. "The Image Mill" is a kinetic public sculpture powered by a waterfall and will be on display in front of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in downtown Grand Rapids from September 23 - October 10, 2009 during the first ever ArtPrize competition. ArtPrize is an international art competition, where the public vote will determine the world's largest art prize with $499,000 in prizes.

"Each time I return to visit my family, I see a changed city," says Hessels, a native of Grand Rapids. "Once again, my hometown is on the cusp of evolving and re-shaping itself. I would like to be part of the conversation about the future of Western Michigan and my country."

As water falls over the 12-foot high "Image Mill: Sustainable Cinema," a transmission assembly causes two wheels to spin in opposite directions. On the interior wheel are a series of animation frames hand painted onto glass; on the black outside wheel, rotating in the opposite direction, are cut slits. As the two wheels spin, the slits act as a shutter and the animation becomes visible...a movie plays in the falling water.

By converging a waterwheel with an 1800's optical illusion toy called a Zoetrope, the project explores a possible future of environmentally responsible media by referencing the histories of cinema and power sources -- energy that helped build Grand Rapids, the force and beauty of falling water becomes the energy to create and display an animation (i.e. sustainable cinema). "Looking forward by looking back," Hessels adds.

"The artwork is being fabricated in my hometown, in the economically struggling state of Michigan by metal workers who are at a transition due to the problems in the auto industry," says Hessels, who currently works and lives in Singapore. "Creating a massive steel wheel about alternative energy proves that the skills of industrial-era tradesmen can be tapped as a valuable resource as the region considers its possible futures."

"Cinema is a unique art form in that it cannot exist without the presence of technology, unlike painting or sculpture," continues Hessels. "Because of this, media creation and presentation systems are rarely considered in discussions of environmental concerns. This piece is meant to trigger a dialogue about other parts of our lives that may potentially use alternative energy sources. If a movie can be powered by nature, what else is possible?"

Hessels' next cinema project will continue with the idea of powering a movie through another of nature's possibilities -- wind. He has not released any details on the wind-powered media art but it will be #2 in his project of sustainable cinema.

About Scott Hessels

Scott Hessels is a media artist and independent filmmaker who has released art and commercial projects in several different media including film, video, web, music, broadcast, print, and performance. His films and videos have shown in hundreds of international film and new media festivals, on television, and in contemporary art galleries over the past 20 years. A native to Grand Rapids, Michigan, Scott has worked abroad for the past 30 years and now lives in Singapore.

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