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Art & Art History
University of Mississippi

Bryce Heesacker

Assistant Professor of Digital Media

Bryce Heesacker, who works as an artist under the moniker F. C. Zuke, creates audiovisual and interactive artworks that investigate the ways in which beliefs are acquired, transmitted, and performed in society. Professor Heesacker’s diverse teaching areas include video, sound, the digital image, installation, performance, creative coding, audio visualization, and interactive media. Bryce received his MFA in Expanded Media at the University of Kansas.

My motivations as an artist are fueled by a desire to put audiences inside of art experiences that reveal and question systems at the heart of our existence as 21st-century beings. I believe art is useful for investigating the differences between peoples. I also believe it holds extraordinary potential for exploring the connectedness of systems that are seemingly disparate. Systems theory plays a significant role in my research-based practice, and I am particularly interested in systems of belief, classification, and epistemology. My works invite viewers to enter systems that are alive and moving, listening and watching, and reactive to their actions. My aim is to create situations where people not only think about a system, but physically see, hear, and feel how it responds to their presence. I think this visceral and interactive nature of my work makes the presence and structure of systems more poignant and recognizable when they appear outside of the art world. The experiences I create involve immersive sound and video, light, darkness, interactive objects, and emergent technologies that allow viewers to become entangled with art—and each other—in meaningful ways. Viewers are often collaborators in my work, using their bodies to engage installations that are sensitive and reactive to their actions. My artistic philosophy is influenced by Barthes’ Death of the Author (1967), and I truly believe that meanings are made manifest through the viewer. Barthes writes that a work’s unity “lies not in its origin but its destination,” and the destination of my work is in the audiences who experience it. Many of the sounds and forms in my work do not present themselves until audiences perform actions that activate them.

Collaboration is a significant element of my practice. I am inspired by collective intelligence and the prospect of working as a team to accomplish projects that would be difficult or impossible for an individual to achieve. I have worked with artists, musicians, and choreographers to produce work that speaks to systematic social problems and the histories of underrepresented peoples. I believe collaboration is apt for producing works about societal issues and the ways that we are impacted by these structures. It is fulfilling to be a part of projects that spark conversations around these issues, and it is important that we show how the arts play a role in shaping our future.

My artistic practice grew out of a background in music composition. I am drawn to sound as an artistic medium because of its mystery. Sound is an invisible, ephemeral energy that further informs our visual experience, and I believe the potential for pairing sound with the visual arts is profound. It can evoke intensely specific emotions, it is incredibly useful as a mnemonic device, and it is naturally immersive and omnipresent. At times, I use it to disorient and overwhelm the viewer. At other times, I visualize and demystify sound so that audiences can better understand the power of sound as it functions within societal systems. My projects often challenge the invisible boundaries between art, sound, and music, and I do not think that art experiences need to be restrained to one of these areas. My installations and audiovisual works are designed to be accessed by diverse audiences: the general public, historians, philosophers, other artists, other researchers, and those who have never entered an art gallery. As an artist, and as an educator, I am interested in the ways that art can be broadly applicable to all disciplines and all areas of life.