Abby Thompson is the newest artist in residence at Springboard for the Arts’ Hinge Arts program. Thompson, who graduated from Hamline University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in digital media ethics and cinema, will be spending about two weeks completing a distanced residency focused on experimental video productions.
“I’ve been doing video stuff since I was 15 or 16, I was more interested in making movies and doing that kind of thing, feature films, but it’s slowly evolved into what I do now which is more, I would say, art installation, video art kind of stuff, trailing into immersive VR, virtual reality things,” Thompson said during a virtual meet and greet Tuesday night. Thompson makes use of new and emerging technologies, like virtual reality (VR) and 360 degree video, as well as experimental editing techniques to make socially critical or introspective pieces.
In applying for the Hinge Arts residency, Thompson was looking for opportunities to enrich the creative practice, building a portfolio. One of Thompson’s main goals for the residency is to work on a VR piece that explores fear. “I’m really interested in, specifically, VR and 360 video because I deal with a lot of anxiety in my life and VR is used specifically for exposure therapy for people with very specific phobias, so I’m interested in exploring fear through this medium because of that,” they said. “I think I have an interest in creating a series of pieces that are exploring different components of fear and anxiety through this medium that’s supposedly therapeutic and immersive.”
Thompson is inspired by the world around them, poetry, books, the work of experimental filmmaker Martin Arnold and sports. “I’m inspired in the world around me. … one piece I literally got the idea in a Davanni’s. It’s a mix of interacting in my environment and my own reflections and relative interests in the world. I feel like I have a lot of inner monologues always going, so it’s like an exclamation on that,” they said. “I’m also interested in sports and football, I grew up with three younger brothers, … I’m really inspired by the intimacy that is athletics.”
Currently, Thompson’s oeuvre can be found on Vimeo. Thompson has also shown some of their work at film festivals, saying, “It’s cool to see this kind of work alongside other people’s experimental or video artwork, because a lot of times you can see some cool thematic similarities between them and it’s interesting to see … everyone’s nuanced and different approach to video art.”
Their residency period runs through Nov. 28 and will be completed from home instead of in Fergus Falls due to COVID-19 safety restrictions.