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Art Meets Geek at Toni Dove's Studio


Flora Lichtman's here - switched hats again.

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: Yes, sir; switching gears.

FLATOW: Switching gears, and our gear is our Video Pick of the Week, and it's a real - as always, a real cool one.

LICHTMAN: This one - yeah, very cool. We're to the earthly pleasures now, that part - segment of the show. It's about art. We went and visited the studio of artist Toni Dove, and she makes the art - the kind of art that's just my style. It satisfies my craving for fantasy, and also my real nerdy, geeky side.

FLATOW: Your "Benji" part.

LICHTMAN: The Benji part is well- satisfied by the kind of stuff that Toni Dove does. She's sort of a multimedia storyteller, and she's been doing that, you know, since before that was cool; for like, 20 years. And she has all this technology that she uses to bring stories to life. But her major - her sort of standby is film; I think that she would say that. But the performances are - have a few different genres.


LICHTMAN: Anyway, I think Toni Dove actually probably describes it best.

TONI DOVE: It's like, I'll look at a movie, and then I'll - the impulse will be to take it apart like it was a pocket watch; and have all the pieces on the table, and then think about different ways it can be configured.

LICHTMAN: So what does it mean to take a movie apart like a pocket watch? Let me try to paint you a picture. So what she does is that she has multiple projection screens going at once. And some of these screens are actually 3D, in a kind of analog way.

FLATOW: Right.

LICHTMAN: They have multiple layers, and so you get this 3D effect. And they move; they can come down from the ceiling. And then there are these other projectors that have - digital puppets, are what she calls them. And basically, there are these pictures of people - or characters - that appear on these screens, but they're animated by real people. And the way that it's done is through motion-sensing software and voice recognition. So there's a real person who's talking and moving their arms in kind of a sign language-y dance, and that translates to the movement of these digital puppets on the screen.


LICHTMAN: You have to see it. It's really cool.

FLATOW: Yeah. It's - and that's why we made a video out of it. That's why Flora went down to the studio and spoke with her, and got a great tour. And if you want to see - it's hard to picture; that's why it's a video. It's hard to picture.

LICHTMAN: Yeah, sorry.

FLATOW: Go to our website at It's our Video Pick of the Week, and it's up there, and you can watch it. And it's fascinating.

LICHTMAN: Yeah. I mean, she also makes robots; and there are cyborgs, and there are opera singers. And the performances themselves include - sort of all these things at once. So there's multiple screens, and then there are performers onstage. And her next production, "Lucid Possession," premiers in April in Brooklyn, and you can get details. But if it sounds really out there, I think Toni Dove, you know, would argue that it actually kind of mirrors modern life.

DOVE: And that sense of fluid movement across different dimensions that happens in the piece, is something that we're exploring in the way we live. We are simultaneously navigating virtual spaces, social spaces, mobile phone spaces. And that gives us a sense of extruded identity, I think.

LICHTMAN: And extruded identity is really, I think, what this latest piece, "Lucid Possession," is about. It was a nice visual representation of, I think, this feeling we all have; where we're, you know, on Twitter and on Facebook and in real life, sometimes, radio; you know...

FLATOW: Right.

LICHTMAN: ...a visual representation of that feeling of being spread out over different platforms.

FLATOW: Yeah. It's our Video Pick of the Week; up there on our website, at You can also see it on YouTube. And it's up there right now. It's a very interesting video.

LICHTMAN: I also would like to make a note for our photographers out there - and we have so many great photographers = our annual winter nature photo contest is back.


LICHTMAN: Last year, you warmed our frosty hearts with your submissions. Bundle up, take your best shot, send it our way. The contest starts at 4 p.m. today, and you can go to our website for info on how to submit your photo.

FLATOW: So it could be a picture of anything having to do with nature.

LICHTMAN: Winter nature.

FLATOW: Winter nature. Winter nature. It could be snow. It could be whatever it is. We don't set the limits on what it can be. But it's just winter nature-related.

LICHTMAN: Winter na - we had - remember last year's? We...


LICHTMAN: ... had really wonderful photographers in our audience.

FLATOW: Beautiful.

LICHTMAN: I can't wait to see what they come up with this year.

FLATOW: And they send dozens and dozens of pictures in, and they're all gorgeously - and then, you know.

LICHTMAN: Then we'll see them, and we'll display them.

FLATOW: And Annette will put them up on the website.

LICHTMAN: That's right.

FLATOW: It'll be great. Thank you.

LICHTMAN: Thanks, Ira.

FLATOW: What a day we've had today, tracking the asteroids; talking about what the meteorites - and the meteors that hit Russia today. And I want to thank everybody who was involved in the coverage all around the world. Thank you very much for helping us with our live coverage today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.