New film 'Liberation Energy' stresses value of renewable energy and screens in 'REEL Art' film series in Decatur

CORE Dance Studio's "REEL Art" film series features a new contribution by Brooklyn-based artist Michael Eckblad titled "Liberation Energy." (Courtesy of Michael Eckblad)

 CORE Dance Studio in Decatur has been engaging the community in new ways since beginning their “REEL Art” film series, screened against the studio storefront windows. A new contribution by Brooklyn-based artist Michael Eckblad is on public view, projected on the front windows of CORE Dance in the Decatur Square, through Dec. 31.

The short film is titled “Liberation Energy,” and the artist joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to share more about the conceptual themes his piece explores.

Interview highlights:

Eckblad’s core guiding principles in creating conceptual art experiences:

“One is something I call ‘ontological resonance,’ which is really just considering that there are certain things – paradigms, discussions, ideas, language, experiences – that activate our shared experience in such a way where we can say almost definitively that we’re engaging what it means to ‘be.’ And that’s a super tall task, and obviously, I’m not claiming to have accomplished that per se, but it’s something that I look towards.”

“The second thing is layers of access, and it’s funny because we’re talking about the art world, and a lot of times there’s this idea of preferred access for special people and people with money, and I’m really interested in layered access, as the various experiences people already bring to the artwork that gives them a unique experience. And so referring to [my performance piece] ‘HRI (Unpaid Internship),’ which is all about giving somebody a five- to 10-minute experience as an unpaid intern in a cubicle environment; obviously, some people have been unpaid interns, other people maybe hire unpaid interns… Then when I think of ‘Liberation Energy,’ which is really centered around this discussion of hydrogen, that similarly, people have a variety of technical awareness of what hydrogen is, or energy or infrastructure, but I really hope that the film incentivizes or engages people regardless of what experience they bring to that.”

On the significance of hydrogen in “Liberation Energy:”

“I care very deeply about the fabrics of society that make our world possible, because they both tell us about our world, and they’re also subject to change. And in the case of energy policy, as we know, there’s just a massive conversation that’s been happening for a long time, and as we look towards alternative energy sources, the use of hydrogen is becoming increasingly important,” Eckblad explained. “It’s very clear that there are people who will financially lose if renewable energy plays a larger and larger share of our energy footprint, and hydrogen has become a big boogeyman in the entire conversation.”

He continued, “It’s the most pervasive element in the universe, and when you set it up for energy purposes, it’s actually super clean, being converted both into its raw potential source as hydrogen and then being used as a fuel. And this is commonly heard, that you can use it as a fuel, and the only byproduct is water, and so there’s this tension between hydrogen as this potential, also this idea that it’s clean, and this idea that it’s dangerous, and that’s exactly where this project lands.”

How Michael Eckblad sees art’s wide-ranging possibilities:

“As a child and as a teenager, creativity, at least in the visual arts, was nothing that was emphasized, let’s say, by my community, meaning my communities weren’t really engaged in that kind of discourse,” said Eckblad. “It wasn’t until I went to college and saw what conceptual artists had done decades earlier where I realized that art could be anything. And I think if you were to kind of distill my art background, it would be that moment where I realized what art was for me, because it could be anything.”

Michael Eckblad’s short film “Liberation Energy” is screening through Dec. 31 on the front windows at CORE Dance Studio in Decatur. More information on this and other films in their “REEL Art” series can be found at