As he adjusted the lighting in the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center (IMRC), 59-year-old University of Maine student James Winters got ready for the weekly Tuesdays at the IMRC lecture series.
The IMRC sponsors an annual workshop series in the spring, which includes free events open to all UMaine students and local community members. The events are designed to enrich and encourage interest in technological as well as artistic fields of study. This year’s workshops were focused on a variety of different topics, ranging from art and design to lighting and electronic technique, and many other subjects that are offered at the IMRC. The IMRC also hosts guest speakers, readings, presentations, art exhibits, performances and other activities throughout the year.
On Thursday, March 29 at 2 p.m., Winters led a workshop on Performance Lighting, specifically on the lighting and design in the IMRC’s Adaptive Presentation (APPE) presentation space. Winters discussed and reviewed the lighting terms used within the space, as well as key observations and techniques implemented throughout the center. He walked students through the process of how to set up and prepare the lighting, audio, visual display and performance space, for specific events and activities.
The APPE space includes three separate systems of lighting, with lights 19 feet off the concrete floor. The center includes 16 spotlights, as well as multiple work lights and different colored lights to help balance out the color and brightness of the space. The IMRC also has multiple projectors located throughout the building, and a screen over 15 feet wide for presentations and videos.
“My job as an event technician involves a variety of different things,” Winters said. “As a student, I work for the IMRC and help with lighting, audio, safety oversight and organizing the setup for events. I also help to run workshops and work with other students to create new ideas and pieces of art. I also play instruments and create original plays and presentations on the side for the IMRC, as well as take pictures for the center.”
Along with receiving a bachelor’s degree at UMaine, Winters is working on his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and is a part of a three member team at the IMRC that is involved in the graduate student Intermedia MFA program. For the last 12 years, this program has been giving students a chance to work for their tuition in the IMRC. Members of the program, including Winters, host and teach workshops, such as the Performance Lighting workshop, in order to spark interest and get students learning about art and technology.
“I really look up to and admire Owen Smith who also works in the IMRC as the director of the program. Along with working at the IMRC to pay for tuition, I also really love to compose and make music,” Winters said. “I am really interested in the idea of object scoring, as an experimental composer I like to take stuff other people would call meaningless junk, such as glass or rope, and make it into something beautiful as an instrument.”
Winters is in his third year of studying to receive his MFA, and hopes to continue being a musician as well as working in the IMRC until he gets his degree. He has participated in two performances at the IMRC so far this semester, one an original play he created himself. Winters also takes pictures and writes blog posts for the IMRC news site, and encourages students to come out and see what the IMRC has to offer.
“Everywhere you go, you have rules, fact checking, right answers. In this kind of art world at the IMRC, the rules are meant to be broken. When things go wrong, that’s when it gets fun,” Winters said. “The IMRC is a place at UMaine where judgement and guidelines go out the window, creative expression and freedom takes precedence over everything.”
For more information on lighting or career opportunities at the IMRC, please visit imrccenter.com or contact james.winters.@maine.edu. For the list of upcoming workshops and events at the IMRC, please visit imrccenter.com/programs/current-workshops/.