Digital + Smartphone Art with s/n

By Elizabeth Delaney for McColl Center for Art + Innovation

Jennida Chase and Hassan Pitts, who comprise the multidisciplinary art group s/n, completed a McColl Center residency this past summer. The opportunity allowed them to evolve their creative model, which typically entails thoughtful combinations of video, audio, photography, and performance that aim to stimulate a dialogue among people across race and gender lines and on multiple sensory levels.

“s/n was able to produce a large amount of work while in residence at McColl Center,” says Chase. “The time, space, and professional connections we were able to utilize while in residence were invaluable.” 

Hassan Pitts of s/n at work in their McColl Center studio, July 2019.

In addition to their studio practice, the Greensboro, North Carolina-based artists spent time working with a group of eighth and ninth graders from Studio 345—a free, creative, out-of-school youth development program, taught and mentored by professional working artists, that uses digital media to educate and inspire students—on a project to highlight various site-specific visual and sonic characteristics of the LYNX Blue Line light rail route in Uptown Charlotte.

Queen City : Playable Space is an interactive, on-demand piece that brings the Blue Line journey to life through a mélange of still and playable video clips, each one referencing a specific point on the line.

At the project’s outset, students spent three days shooting video up and down the light rail path, which s/n then remixed into playable prints—cutting-edge stills that can be scanned to activate the source video on a smartphone.

The artists further developed the students’ video clips into a playable Google map, which enables viewers to click on numerous coordinates connected to corresponding points on the Blue Line.

A video excerpt from Queen City : Playable Space.

In their project summary, s/n writes, “Ultimately, Queen City : Playable Space seeks to blend sensory interpretations and responses with the aid of an ancillary means of experiencing a sense of place.”

Building on this technically savvy vision, Chase and Pitts return to Charlotte to lead a smartphone art workshop at McColl Center on Saturday, September 21, from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

Workshop participants will hone their photography and video skills and review various editing apps that, like the processes implemented on the Blue Line project, enrich aesthetic technique and expand creative reach.

Jennida Chase of s/n at work in their McColl Center studio, July 2019.

The artist pair has a history of creating art via smartphone. Of their experience with the contemporary medium, Chase says, “s/n have regularly made work for the mobile platform and we did so during our time at McColl Center. We have also made work with mobile phones in general, for example, The Fawn (2017), which was on display all summer on the third floor.” 

Sign up to participate in the smartphone art workshop on Saturday, September 21. Adults and teens are welcome and both iPhones or Androids are welcome. The workshop runs from 10:00 a.m. through noon, and all materials (except a smartphone) are provided.