In his four-minute video “Barcelona Mosaics” (2008), Vin Grabill creates a vibrant, gyrating universe made up of fractal imagery that moves and multiplies and diminishes and grows and disappears and reappears and coalesces in beautiful, mesmeric fashion, all accompanied by a pulsating soundtrack that brings to mind the work of contemporary composer Philip Glass.
Its footage—“individual ‘brushstrokes’ that consist of short bits of video that last 1/6th or 1/7th of a second,” explains Grabill—and that imagery’s accompanying original ambient sound represent what Grabill calls his “rhythmically edited” work. Additionally, his video oeuvre consists of collage-like pieces such as the three-minute “Sky Buy” (2013), which combines imagery from varied sources that he made and then matches it to its own ambient sound or to music from outside sources (including his composer son, Elliott); plus collaborations with artists from other disciplines, such as the poetic, 15-minute “Shibboleth” (2000) with choreographer Carol Hess.
An associate professor of film and video at UMBC since 1994 and, from 2008 to 2015, the chair of the school’s Department of Visual Arts, Grabill, 67, began working with video while studying painting and light sculpture in a master’s program at MIT in the late 1970s. “I was never trained as a television or video producer,” he explains, “but I instead utilize this medium as a kind of painting in time.”