Friday, March 23 , 2018, 7:48 pm | Fair 59º


Margo Kline: ‘Spontaneous Fantasia’ Takes Center Stage

Center Stage Theater presents something different with J. Walt Adamczyk's computer-designed show

Center Stage Theater, the black-box performance space at Paseo Nuevo, presented something different over the weekend — performance artist J-Walt.

The program, which played Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon, was called “Spontaneous Fantasia The Infinite Frontier.” J-Walt is the name used by J. Walt Adamczyk when presenting his one-man computer-designed show, which he describes as a “live virtual reality performance.” The Center Stage venue was ideally suited for his Sunday matinee.

At that performance, the audience was, unfortunately, sparse. That can probably best be explained by the esoteric nature of the show, which truly is not like anything usually seen in Santa Barbara live theater. Also, I didn’t see one child in the audience, which was a shame. J-Walt’s colorful yet abstract projections and music would appeal to any child with an imagination — which is to say, to every child.

The performer was endearing from the moment he entered the stage, a slim man with long, wavy auburn hair and an almost diffident manner. He spoke directly to the audience, explaining that he plays it by ear as he goes, improvising all the way.

Seating himself at a computer console, he began by “drawing” three funny humanoid figures as they were projected onto a screen at the back of the stage. He then took the trio through a dizzying array of colors, shapes and musical variations on the screen.

The pliable stick figures meandered, danced, disassembled and reassembled themselves through the colorscape. They took on a kind of endearing almost-human presence as they stretched, compacted, contorted, danced and flew in front of the program’s color-changing, fluid-motion abstract designs.

There were four parts to the 75-minute program — “Rain Dance,” “Pachelbel’s Canon,” “The Omnicentric Universe” and the finale.

J-Walt’s biography lists his education, a degree from CalArts, and his professional technical achievements, including work for Disney, Sony and other digital productions. With two collaborators, he won an Oscar in 2006 for the design and development of the Aerohead motion control camera head and the J-Viz Pre-Visualization System. He also has won awards for his creation of digital puppets.

He organizes the Los Angeles Abstract Film and Video Workshop, a monthly gathering of artists. J.Walt’s work has been exhibited at Ars Electronica, Siggraph, the Sinking Creek Film Festival, the New York Animation Festival and others. He lives with his wife and three children in Altadena.

— Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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