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The beauty in ambiguity

As easy as it is to get invested in traditional art pieces, with their elaborate swirls of paint and textured brush-strokes, getting stuck in a trance while watching new figures transform is like second nature.

Until October 17, the Maryland Art Place is the home of Brandon Morse’s “Terminal Velocity.” This five piece, new-media exhibit discusses the ways in which physical phenomena, namely entropy and emergence, can be “both poetic and metaphorical,” according to the MAP website.

Morse uses codes, and creates custom computer software to set the parameters to play out his vision. Three of the pieces, “Giving Up the Ghost,” Spiderland” and “At the Ramparts,” are projections, which means they feature the same footage being played on the loop.

Paul Shortt, registry coordinator and program assistant at MAP, said that “Remora” and “The Shakes” however, are displayed on screens and are, therefore, “able to generate the numbers needed to see these visuals in a different way each time, so the viewer always sees something different.”

Aside from the colorful light that the art pieces emit, the L-shaped exhibition room is dark. The pièce-de-résistance, “Giving Up the Ghost,” is the first video installation one sees upon entering, and it is almost impossible to walk away from. The colors vary across the top of the wall where where the projection starts, changing from a peachy-pink to a grapefruit-skin orange and finally, to a deep-purple that is black in some places and maroon in others.

The bottom half of “Giving Up the Ghost” is a brighter variation of a typical turquoise, with hints of the colors from the top seeping down in some places. Bursts of deep maroon circles fall from the top corners of the projection, getting darker as they move down the screen and eventually fading out where they started. From some angles, these groups of moving circles look like rivulets of blood, but from other perspectives, they seem to be Dementor-like creatures described in the “Harry Potter” books.

Another video installation, “Spiderland,” features an innumerable amount of circles similar to those seen in “Giving Up the Ghost.” These circles are like pieces of white, grey and black confetti swirling in a the form of a reckless tornado.

Displayed on two different screens, “Remora” is the movement of four different groups of spherical bursts of energy into a blue abyss. These groups move as though they’ve lost all inhibition and remind one of the way water moves after being hit with the pressure of a jet.

Accompanying the visuals is a haunting track that Morse created. It sounds like he has taken the out-of-pitch noise that is released from microphone feedback and put it underwater, turning it into a relaxed, echoing tone that captures the ambiguity of each piece in “Terminal Velocity.”

Together, the intense visuals and eerie sounds are so surreal that one hesitates to even breathe while each piece unravels, scared of missing some beauty forever. The brilliance of “Terminal Velocity” lies in Morse’s ability to make each viewer leave with more questions than answers.