Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Night Light at the Bubbler @ Madison Public Library

This post originally appeared on the LAIP in December, 2014.

A new installment in our video series on the Library as Incubator Project YouTube Channel in partnership with The Bubbler at Madison Public Library.  Today, an interview with artist in residence Justin Bitner about his take on the monthly Night Light late night programming series at the library– book-themed artist-driven Pinewood Derby! Enjoy! ~Erinn


by Sean Ottosen and Lucas Schneider

This month in the Bubbler series we will highlight the work of artist, audio engineer, and woodworker Justin Bitner, along with other local artists, culminating at the Bubbler’s monthly Night Light event on November 14th. Night Light is a monthly after-hours series at Madison Central Library that rotates between music, theater, dance, storytelling, performance art, and other live happenings. Amazing drinks are provided during the display of Bubbler exhibitions, courtesy of Forequarter.

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Most Night Light events coincide with one or several gallery openings. On this evening, each floor of the library featured a different artist:

1st Floor Video Art Screen (not pictured): Once Effigy, a collaborative piece by Max Puchalsky and Simone Doing places traditional narratives from the past and the present into critical conversation with each other through natural imagery (special screening in the 3rd Floor Community Room for Night Light).


1st Floor GalleryEpilogue, an installation by Julie VonDerVellen features three-dimensional cross-sections of trees made entirely of paper and formed out of VonDerVellen’s exploration into how we visualize time.


The 2nd Floor Gallery: The stories of inventions and innovators who have shaped our history are illuminated through Chris Murphy’s Carbon Compositions, composite portraits built from bead-like electronics parts.


The 3rd floor Diane Endres Ballweg GalleryKeith Nelson’s and Kent Wiliams’s New Work pairs sculptural collages of found materials with digital prints created though an intricate process of slicing and splicing.

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Tying together these seemingly unrelated exhibitions was the Art Car Pinewood Derby, headed by Bitner. Bitner is interested in the musicality of the everyday objects and is inspired to create environments conducive to blending sound and objects—a space in which “one can reflect on the temporal nature of the world in which they exist” (artist statement).

As an artist, I create work based on sound. I remember going and watching my brother do the pinewood derby and I remember the sound from it and I had always wanted to work that into an art piece since I started using these sound references to create memories for myself and interactive pieces for people to wander within.

Bitner said he has never found a way to work that into an art installation—that is until now! “Keep Bookin’’ was an installation Bitner created to get the idea out of his system. He invited local artists to create their own book-themed pinewood derby cars (as seen above).The only rule was that there be no gears or motors; aside from that the designers had complete artistic liberty. Bitner, who received a Master of Fine arts-Studio Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, saw the derby as an opportunity to recreate the supportive network of artists he enjoyed as a student.


It was just nice to see people pull together and instead of competing against each other for shows as artists, or for jobs as artists; we were competing against each other in a fun way and building community, which I think is important.

Just as Bitner used the Art Car Pinewood Derby to recreate the community of artists he missed at UW-Madison, the Bubbler creates a similar community by bringing together a collection of artists, makers and community members to the Central Library each month for Night Light, in celebration of their work and creativity.

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Ottosen_Sean_picSean Ottosen earned his master’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Library and Information Studies and is currently an employee of the Madison Public Library (Central) in both Reference & User Services and Digital/Web Services. His volunteer work with downtown Madison music festivals has led to a seat on the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center’s board of directors. Sean is a cinephile, a frequent concert-goer, and an enthusiastic reader.



lucas-schneider_scaled-150wLucas Schneider is studying Japanese and Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has been working in libraries for over five years and is currently a desk page at Madison Public Library. Lucas is fascinated by computer networking and security and would love to have a career bridging the gap between libraries and electronic resources.

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