After choreographing a socially distanced version of her Dance Gala piece, this is the second time in recent weeks that Stephanie Miracle has had an opportunity to create art in a parking ramp.
“We want this experience to be as accessible as possible, so it’s nothing too wild,” Miracle, an instructor with the University of Iowa Dance Department, told the Iowa City Press-Citizen. “I’m not going to ask anyone to do a complete dance.”
“The Parking Space” is a new public art showcase in the Chauncey Swan Ramp, located at 415 E. Washington St., that will be available at 3 p.m. Friday. The art piece is a 30-minute sonic experience, interacted with through a phone and intended to remain available through fall 2021 at StephanieMiracleDances.com.
The project is set on the fourth floor of the parking garage, located in downtown Iowa City, and partially sponsored by a public art matching grant from the City of Iowa City.
Stephanie Miracle headshot (Photo: Special to the Press-Citizen)
The experience, spearheaded by Miracle, can be experienced on foot, in a car or on a bike, though, Miracle noted, the exerience is best enjoyed on foot. Participants need only go to the fourth floor of the parking garage before going onto Miracle’s website on their phone in order to access the audio for the project.
No physical alterations have been made to the space; the track simply guides listeners toward specific points in the space the project occupies.
“Part of that choice is practical in that it’s more simplified and streamlined to not have to install anything permanent,” Miracle said. “It’s untouched and we’re bringing these things to it and you’re awakening the imagination a little bit.”
“We want this experience to be as accessible as possible, so it’s nothing too wild.”
Stephanie Miracle, instructor with the University of Iowa Dance Department
Miracle describes the experience as an audio work focused on enhancing awareness and contemplation interwoven with something akin to an “I Spy” game.
Furthermore, though there is a designated sequence to the audio files, a news release notes that attendees can “choose your own adventure,” by listening to clips out of sequence or intermittently, over a longer period of time.
Though the project was initiated by Miracle, her focus was primarily on emphasizing the physicality of the experience. Her focus was more on emphasizing how listeners inhabit a space and points of interest within and around it.
She also collaborated with Steven Willis and Ramin Roshandel on spoken-word and soundscape aspects of the project.
Choreographer Stephanie Miracle, composer Ramin Roshandel and writer/poet Steven Willis on top of the Chauncey Swan Parking Ramp. (Photo: Special to the Press-Citizen)
“I really like that each of us approached this slightly differently,” Miracle said. “Each of our contributions speak to a different sense.”
Roshandel, who’s worked with Miracle on two other projects this year, said he’s fallen into a comfortable working environment with the choreographer.
“I appreciate that she’s so open-minded, in terms of new ideas, trusting everyone who’s involved with this project,” Roshandel said. “I think that level of trust can make all the collaborators think better and be more creative.”
Though all three met several times to discuss the project, Roshandel’s part played a little bit more directly off of Miracle and Willis’ contributions. The resultant soundscape includes abient and synthetic sound as well as accoustics, dipping into ideas of solitude the three all felt the space evoked.
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The project was Willis’ first time working with Miracle, an experience he said he enjoyed as he watched his collaborators utilize their talents and figure out how his spoken-word clips fit with their contributions.
“Renim would tell (me and Miracle) to consider sounds that are in the space — What happens when the wind blows? What happens when a car honks?” Willis said. “It was a really amazing thing to see everyone’s expertise melt its way into everyone else’s work.”
Miracle and her collaborators hope that, for those who visit, the project offers an escape and calm, of sorts — especially amid a particularly tumultuous period. On a more base level, though, the trio hopes participants walk away from the experience seeing the space differently than before.
“I hope people fall into this wonder of how we did that,” Willis said, “and feel compelled to do that in space of their own (and ask) ‘How can that be reimaged with new awareness?'”
Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at the Press-Citizen. Reach him at [email protected] or (319)-688-4247, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet.
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