Sounds and Nodes

October 29, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Category: Art & Design, Internet & Technology

This thing is too much fun... beautiful too.

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Art is dead

October 26, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Category: Art & Design

I decided today that there's no such thing as 'Art'. It's all just a bunch of psychological games.

Yep, I shall graduate with a B.FA as evidence of my game master skills.

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FITO Hillman Curtis lecture

October 26, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Category: Art & Design, Photography

Well I never really had a chance to write down an articulation of my thoughts for this event but these are the notes that I wrote down:

Went to Hillman Curtis with Erica and Dave. Curtis ended up being quite the humble person. As commercial as he is, he doesn't gloss over it. (He does believe that you can put the words 'commercial' and 'artists' together and still have them work.)

It was very interesting how he talked about his desire to communicate. He mentioned his faith in the internet to break free from needing big corporations in order to get your music out. And of course this applies to writing and art. (Very timely since I recieved a link from Alex about Peer-to-peer streaming for audio and video. Goooo pirate radio/tv!)

Some pics of the event: (They're really blurry because the lecture was in a very dark movie theatre, hence a slightly shaky long exposure. But that black blob of a figure... that's Hillman)

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October 26, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Category: Art & Design, Literature & Writing


Art System
October 25 to October 27, 2002

Curated by:
Derek Mainella

Featuring works by:
Matthew Bennett, Jubal Brown, Jason Hallows, Andrew Kidder, Derek Mainella, Anna Jane Mcintyre

Painting at Arcade

It's 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.

My detour into Chinatown to find the elusive* Art System gallery has led me up a flight of stairs and through a very pink door. I seem to vaguely recall my old roommate telling me that Art System puts on good parties.

As I enter the gallery, I feel the alcoholic stickiness of last night's opening reception party tug at the sole of my shoes while a young man half-heartedly sweeps plastic cups and straws into piles. (I think it's the curator, Derek Mainella, but I don't ask.)

"Sorry for the condition of that display," he tells me while pointing to a wall of disorganized pixel art paintings (possibly his own, see below), half of which were in a pile on the floor. "I ran out of sale stickers last night and was selling them right off the wall."

Looks like I missed an interesting night -- especially since the flyer was encouraging 'Pac-Man era attire'.

I wasn't too sure what to expect from Arcade!, a survey exhibition of arcade-related art work. It did cross my mind how geeky this idea of having a gallery show dedicated to video game art was. Yet, just as the curator proposed with this show, it is truly a reflection of my generation.

The so-called geeks are turning out to the ones making the big bucks and, considering how mainstream computing and gaming have become, the geeks are most certainly going to be shaping our visual landscape of the present and future.

left: paintings by Matthew Bennett | right: (non)pixel art paintings (Derek Mainella

In terms of Arcade!, most works had a retro-80s look. Some of the artists chose to monumentalize video game art by increasing the scale and transferring each pixel onto canvas through paint. There is something truly ritualistic about meticulously painting straight-edged squares one after another.

Matthew Bennett, co-founder of Mind Control Studios in Toronto, decided to approach it differently and made Metroid** into erotica (see above, left). I guess it's every boy's fantasy to have a woman who can kick alien butt. And with that heavy armour, it's even easier to imagine the mystique. (Of course, now is the time to point out how only one of the six featured artists is a woman.)

While I don't want to underscore the influences of video games on representation in a digital culture, I considered Arcade! as only a nice blast to the past. An interesting re-mediation of low art versus high art but overall uninspiring for my current New Media practices. Nevertheless, I still went home and played some Metroid.

* elusive since Art System doesn't even seem to have a website... very strange for a gallery that showcases a lot of multimedia events.
** actually, I'm not too sure if it's Metroid but I can't think of any other female video game characters.

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The Paradise Institute

October 20, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Category: Art & Design, Literature & Writing

The Paradise Institute

Power Plant
September 21 to November 17, 2002

Curated by:
Philip Monk

Featuring work by:
Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

From The Paradise Institute artist catalogue

Art galleries are the last place that I would have expected to feel like I just stepped off a roller coaster but Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller have truly engineered an installation ride of hyper-realism that's just as thrilling as being in an amusement park.

Cardiff and Miller have collaborated many times in the past and this time they bring us The Paradise Institute -- a specially built mini-movie theatre of wood, real theatre seats and faked theatre space. Headphones are used and moving images are displayed on a screen much smaller than what would appear in an actual movie house.

At this point, I would like to state that mere words are futile in describing the complexity of this installation, nor can words do justice for this piece.

The sound production quality experienced in Cardiff and Miller's theatre of illusion make it impossible to describe how easy it was to believe that someone was whispering in your ear, that someone was undressing right behind you, or that a mob of people outside the theatre installation were banging on the walls.

Janet Cardiff is quite well known for her audio walks so the attention to detail in The Paradise Institute's audio shouldn't come as any surprise. Quite possibly I could go on for ages about the sound but let us not forget about the 'theatre' concept of the installation. It was very interesting how the visuals played with -- and against -- the audio. The 'film' being shown was fragmented in a Cubist way while the audio narrative stayed more or less linear.

The most intriguing part about The Paradise Institute is when the on-screen fiction mixes with the off-screen fiction. It felt analogous to when I watch movies and, in my head, I project my own director's cut onto the screen. It also works the other way around, such as when you need that break from mundane life so you daydream about being a fictional character in the last movie you saw. (Yes, I'll admit it: I think having spidy-powers would be cool.)

Interior view of The Paradise Institute

More reading: Atom Egoyan interview with Janet Cardiff

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What does supertronic mean anyways?

October 19, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Category: Art & Design

Helped out at the Images Festival office today... nothing glamourous. Mostly just typing installation submissions into a database. My wrists KILL. Gooooo carpal tunnel.

It amuses me what some of these artists' come up with for titles for their artwork. It's late so I can only remember '3 Dimensional Supertronic Sound' (or something to that effect).

Reminds me of the website Effloresce Machina.

Quite ingeneous, I must admit. But do these people pull out their thesaurus and dictionaries when they put these titles together??

If it doesn't already exists, someone should build a database of colossally fecundive epochial-sounding -- yet lyrical -- words that will automatically name your installation for you.

Hmm... I feel another project coming along...

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The Found and the Familiar

October 19, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Category: Art & Design, Literature & Writing

The Found and the Familiar:
Snapshots in Contemporary Canadian Art

Gallery TPW
October 17 to November 16, 2002

Curated by:
Sophie Hackett and Jennifer Long

Featuring works by:
Sara Angelucci, Barbara Astman, Dean Baldwin, Chris Curreri, Max Dean, Nancy Friedland, Clint Griffin, Vid Ingelevics, Germaine Koh, Adrienne Lai and Nina Levitt

A collage by Clint Griffin

A few days earlier, my roommate's boyfriend interviewed me for one of his journalism assignments. The topic was cultural identity and somehow we got talking about how our 'boundaries' in Toronto affect our perception of culture.

Being that I'm Asian, one would think that I would know more about Markham, the Pacific Mall or Toronto's Chinese newspapers, but alas, I am in the dark.

"You have to understand," I tell Jon (my interviewer), "that I grew up in Regina. And that Toronto to me means everything south of Bloor, west of Yonge and east of High Park."

It would seem that Clint Griffin also agrees that familiar roads can serve as our boundaries. Griffin is an Ontario-born artist who likes to collect discarded photos and his sense of playfulness is alive in his piece pictured above and below. (Sorry, I forgot to write down the title!).

A close up. Note: 'Eglinton', 'St. Clair'

The pencil sketchings on this mixed media collage of cutout photos and used mailing envelopes imply a room and the space beyond. The corners of the walls and ceiling are Toronto streets alluding to how we box ourselves into a certain environment. A painting on the illusionary wall depicts a sketched out map of Toronto supporting my idea that perception is what we are most familiar with.

The Found and the Familiar plays on this idea of taking things that we know (snapshots) in order to reflect on our perception of how things are represented. What we choose to present (or hide) in these informal pictures indicate the values of a society that believes "a picture is worth a thousand words."

I felt that the artists featured appealed much more to me on an intellectual level, rather than emotional, so I did not find this show to be very exciting. However, the re-mediation of snapshots did cause me to wonder what my photo shoebox is saying about me. (Talking behind my back, no doubt.)

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Case Studies: Kinematics

October 19, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Category: Art & Design, Literature & Writing

Case Studies: Kinematics

York Quay Centre
September 20 to November 3, 2002

Curated by:
Patrick Macaulay

Featuring works by:
Doug Back, Michael Buchanan, Peter Gazendam, Lee Goreas, Jen Hamilton, Gordon Hicks, Marla Hlady and Devon Knowles

The hallway at York Quay Centre

Kinematics is a group show featuring eight artists who explore and/or break our preconceived notions of motion or sound. The first of eight vitrines in the hallway leading to the gallery contains Devon Knowles' 60 Second Blues.

This piece is a polished wooden box, approximately 15-inches tall by 13-inches wide with a thicker base. Several cutout pieces in the front of the box give the impression of a 1940's radio -- a circular cutout for the tuning knob and long narrow strips where speakers might go. (It had a nice solid weight to it even with its haphazard looking cutouts.)

There is a power source in the vitrine which allows a small light source to shine through a slowly rotating multi-coloured glass disc built inside the top of the wooden box. This creates soothing shades of orange, green and blue to glow on the inside of the box. The colours ebb and flow much like how a soft jazzy blues tune would drift. (I think of the families of the past who huddled around the radio like a fireplace in order to pay homage to their broadcasting celebrities.)

I believe Knowles' goal was to take one of our senses (sight) and make it conjure up an idea of another sense (hearing). The plainness of the box and the cutouts seemed to imply the 'constructed-ness' of music composition. In an abstract sense, music is just a bunch of sounds but when you add movement and rhythm to it, that's when it becomes a song. Therefore, the effectiveness of the piece is very much dependent on kinetics and the time required to experience the artwork.

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Tim McGraw

October 13, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Category: Photography

I can't remember if Tim McGraw is a real person or not but a video or commercial was being filmed about him over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The spotlights kept on lighting up my room so I ventured out to take some pics.

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