Ben Wood is a public video artist based in San Francisco. In his work with large-scale projection and installations, he combines cutting-edge media art with historical subject matter.
He is especially devoted to using contemporary media to animate public spaces with images of their unrecognized history, and exposing how histories of marginalized
and often forgotten communities may be visually reintroduced into the physical landscape of the present.
Wood is known for large-scale displays on Coit Tower, Haas-Lilienthal House, Saint Ignatius Church, within Mission Dolores, and other notable San Francisco landmarks.
In 2004 Wood initiated the Mission Dolores Mural Project to reveal the 1791 hidden painted adobe reredos at Mission Dolores and since that time
he has advocated for its preservation.
Together with Ramaytush Ohlone descendant, Jonathan Cordero, Ph.D, Wood recently published an article about the mural in Journal of the West.
He has created a series of projected video installations onto Coit Tower, beginning in 2004 on July 4th to honor Ohlone heritage, and again in 2008 and 2009 on July 4th and Thanksgiving, collaborating with native organisers to honor local indigenous heritage
and commemorate the 40th anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz.
In much of his work, Wood has explored a re-animation of history, by reviving historic murals in order to spark dynamic conversation about relevant contemporary questions and issues.
In his first animated video-work at the San Francisco Art Institute, he transformed Diego Rivera's landmark mural into a present-day 3D animation,
animating it with students and teachers to reflect upon its contemporary meaning.
Perhaps most relevant to this project was his re-animation of the famous destroyed Rockefeller Center mural of Diego Rivera for his MIT thesis. For the 50th anniversary commemoration of Diego Rivera's death, at Mexico's Museo Nacional de Arte Wood created
a re-visitation of Rivera's destroyed utopian Rockefeller Center Mural, bringing the mural to life through a multitude of images, voices and text, featuring contemporary artists and thinkers to reconsider its contemporary meaning. For the 50th anniversary of the
East-West Center, in Honolulu,
Wood brought to life two significant murals by Jean Charlot and Affandi that form part of their institutional collection. The videos electronically refreshed these priceless yet marginalized murals.
In 2015 coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Panama Pacific International Exposition, Wood created a projected video artwork that commemorated Native Californian Ishi who, despite incredible adversity,
helped preserve Yahi language, culture and legacy before it was completely destroyed.
Wood is deeply committed to improving community relations through engaging and accessible aesthetic experiences that allow essential histories to be engaged in a civic discourse.
For more information about his work and projects visit his website.
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