Michael Casselli has been interested in the hybridization of forms and media since he received his undergraduate degree in visual arts/performance theory from Antioch College in 1987. While at the college, he staged large-scale outdoor mixed media performance installations, whose primary focus was an attempt to clarify issues of sense-based perception and the physicality inherent in performative work. After Antioch, he was accepted into the Masters Program in Sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
While at RISD his work started to move away from the performative context, while maintaining a vested interest in this relationship to physicality, choosing to focus on the role that the spectator plays as a necessary figurative element of completed work. It was at RISD that he started to define this as one of the dominant contextual frameworks through which his work was to be experienced. By eliminating physical boundaries between the viewer and the work, he provided the spectator with a choice as to how they would interact with it.
While these concerns still remain active in the work he produces today, his vocabulary has expanded to include more subtle ways of asking the same questions and has allowed him to consider a broader palate of contemporary media in the creation of his work, utilizing video, robotics, and home-grown technologies. Michael spent twenty years in New York City within the underground art and performance scene, fully integrating his early concerns with performance and the visual arts. While continuing to create large-scale installations, he found himself able to apply many of the same concerns within the performance arena, creating scenic and video designs for dance and theater, earning him a Bessie Award for Scenic Design in 1987 for his work with Elizabeth Streb. Michael relocated to Yellow Springs in 2009 to establish the Manic Design Studio, a place for hybrid experimentation in all media. In 2013, he was awarded the Ohio Arts Council Award for Individual Excellence.