Expanding 'The Unknown Zone'

Brooke Einbender, the artist behind Mindbender Art, is at it again with an upcoming installation in Mountain Village. The public art, which debuts Tuesday and will be on display through September, mixes physical and digital art, coined “phygital” art, which will be a first for Mountain Village. The installation will be part of the Telluride Art + Architecture event organized by the Telluride Arts District.

Einbender collaborated with sound artist and healer Clare Hedin, 3D modeler and industrial designer Mikael Mihranian, and virtual world builder Timmy Edens to create the unique installation known as “The Unknown Zone.”

“Leveraging each collaborating artist’s unique gifts has enabled the project to reach new heights, its greatest potential and maximum impact. I’m bringing together so many different skill sets and talents to cultivate the project’s well-rounded physical/digital ecosystem and mind-blowing experience … that hasn’t been done before,” Einbender said.

Ten reclaimed doors will be set up along the 2.5-mile trail that starts at the intersection of Mountain Village Boulevard and Highway 145. The route will end in the Mountain Village Core. Those familiar with Einbender’s doors will be delighted to learn of the multiple layers added to the installation. It combines public art, NFTs (non-fungible tokens), more reclaimed doors and interactive virtual experiences.

First, Einbender paints and embellishes each side of the doors, creating the base personality for the piece. She then recreates the design on her iPad as a “digital skin,” which is then shared with Mihranian, who creates a 3D model of the door. Mihranian then overlays the skin on the door, creating a “digital twin,” which will go on sale in August. Einbender is releasing 333 NFT Cosmic Door Keys.

“Collectors of these keys will receive access to ‘The Unknown Zone’s’ virtual world of portals,” Einbender explained.

Using a computer or virtual reality headset, people can enter through the digital version of the door and be transported into the door’s unique landscape.

For the Mountain Village installation, there are excerpts of Hedin’s poems on the back of each door. Full soundscapes and poems will be available with the purchase of an NFT.

Einbender has been working on this project since the pandemic started and has collected over 100 doors. All of the doors have been sourced from the Telluride region. She believes she is preserving a piece of Telluride history, as most of the doors might have ended up in a landfill.

She has had an art residency in Ophir. In May 2022, she presented her first TEDx talk in Vail. The talk was titled “Life as Art: Opening Doors into the Unknown.”

“It was really a serendipitous moment when Ann Barker, director of Art + Architecture, called me. She was dreaming up the same dream that I was envisioning — a large-scale public art installation of my doors showcased in Telluride and Town of Mountain Village .”

In 2019, Einbender built an immersive virtual reality projection installation in one of the homes that was part of Art + Architecture. For that installation, she brought home the Juror’s Choice Award.

“The work that Brooke is doing is exploring new territory for the future of public and digital art in Telluride, Mountain Village and beyond. … She is leaving a legacy,” Barker said in a June 30 news release.

Local artist Chris Robinson fitted two doors, placed in front of the Madeline Hotel adjacent to Reflection Plaza, with custom-built steel frames to give the doors a firm foundation.

After the installation, Einbender plans to take her work internationally and expand ‘The Unknown Zone’ outside the San Juan Mountains and the United States. Her goal is to collect doors and set up installations in different regions worldwide.

“‘The Unknown Zone’ is a long-term, seven-continent project. Collectors will be able to acquire physical and digital doors from around the world and build their ‘doorfolio,'” Einbender said. “Those who can’t travel and visit my public art installations will be able to access them virtually in the Metaverse, by computer or virtual reality headset.”

To learn more about the new collaborative project, visit mindbender-art.com or follow @mindbender.art on Instagram. For information about Telluride Art + Architecture week, go to tellurideartandarchitecture.com.

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By ll07v

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