If you consider how often an artist creates works based on their life experiences, one would probably be sitting there thinking about quite a few artists. Charbel Samuel Aoun (charbelsamuelaoun.com), on the other hand, creates his artwork not only from his own experiences and the changing environment of his home country, Lebanon, but he also gathers the experiences of others and creates installations to portray their own feelings. Samuel Aoun’s installations invite visitors to use their senses while walking through, touching, feeling and even smelling some of the works.
When creating installations, he tries to recreate how he felt or how those he spoke to felt because then “You freeze an experience in time,” he said. Whispering Tap is a piece that personally affected him and represents a certain point in time for him. “It’s like when you want to revisit an emotion from your past, but it’s in the present; it’s grief.”
While it is not difficult to understand the meanings behind Charbel’s work when looking on his website, it is much harder to share the experience when just looking at photos of his installations. For that, he created a solution: Videos of his work appear on his website. All of the videos were taken and edited by the artist himself and portray the installations as if someone were walking through them. Those who watch the videos or visit an installation’s location are immersed in the feelings that brought about his ideas to create the work.
“I hope the philosophers don’t hate me after this example,” Samuel Aoun says, explaining how he tries to express emotions by comparing a difference between having information and then interpreting information to get an idea across:
“Behind the window we have a poet and a philosopher. [The philosopher] is looking at snow and he is explaining that the snow is cold. But the poet breaks through the window and he holds it in his hand and says ‘look, see? The snow is cold’ and gives it to you.”
The artist had one word for others who wanted to take videos of their pieces in order to promote them: “Absolutely.” If video becomes the medium that assists in displaying artwork properly, then Samuel Aoun considers it a great option to show off pieces and other installations. While this technique works with three out of five of our senses, video cannot replicate touch and Samuel Aoun mentions how “the most difficult is how to show smell.”
Outside creating an installation that allows the use of the senses, Samuel Aoun’s mind is always at work when he is trying to piece together something new. “It’s more than something defined,” he says, when speaking about how he uses skills outside of his architectural background to build up his installations. “Each time I’m learning something new.”
Samuel Aoun lets his imagination take over, picturing the work and taking into consideration which methods are best for building the installation. From there, the installations come to life, a video is created and his work is completely exposed to whomever may come across it. Online visitors to his artwork can find him on Youtube.
Katherine Ceballos is a third year and the University of Central Florida, majoring in Journalism and an editing intern with Professional Artist magazine. Katherine contributes her work to Nicholson Student Media (NSM.today) and is a self-taught portrait, event and landscape photographer.