EXHIBITION: 2018 Emerging Digital Artists Award

Trinity Square Video is excited to be exhibiting works by the 5 finalists of EQ Bank’s 2018 Emerging Digital Artists Awards.

2018 Emerging Digital Artists Award
27 September – 13 October 2018

Featuring works by Anna Eyler, Emily Hamel, Alvin Luong, Xuan Ye, and Shaheer Zazai

Entering its fourth year, the EDAAs continues its determination to highlight digital art as a field that thrives under experimentation and fosters potential for ongoing growth. As reads the newly published mandate for the program: We’re for web masters and re-mastering, not masterpieces.

Through the work of early-career digital artists, the EDAA celebrates the very innovations and inspirations shifting the digital media landscape in Canada. At its core, the program focuses on creating opportunities to support critical engagement with digital mediums that push against conventional artistic boundaries and into spaces unknown to the analogue world.

 

ABOUT THE WORKS

Anna Elyer, PAN/PAN (2018). Video animation. 

Through computer-generated video, PAN/PAN probes the connections between exploration, wilderness, and technology in a contemporary context. Drawing on the visual vocabularies of landscape painting and NASA live-streams, PAN/PAN presents a series of relics from a distant future. Hovering between motion and stillness, virtual scenes are devoid of human presence, yet biomorphic apparatuses function as technological stand-ins for embodied experience. Their unexpected presence in the landscape calls into question violent, colonial notions of the uninhabited wilderness pre-contact and masculinist narratives of discovery so deeply embedded in early twentieth-century landscape painting. By conflating categories of artificial/natural and virtual/actual, PAN/PAN generates a playful yet uncanny vision of our technologized future.

As more and more of our experiences become mediated through technology, how do we re-negotiate our embodied subjectivities? Can virtual environments function as sites for the troubling of distinctions between technological, aesthetic, and artificial categories? And how can we develop a critical intimacy with our technologies without reducing them to mere reflections of our own values and beliefs? PAN/PAN speaks to these questions and concerns surrounding contemporary discussions of art and technology.

Emily Hamel, The Queer in the Rural (2018). Video. 

The Queer in the Rural explores the spatial politics of a rural landscape in relation to queerness through manually manipulating the code of video files, or datamoshing. The video presents the rural farm landscape as a space comprised of elements in a binary pair: what exists in the world naturally, and what exists due to human intervention. The Queer in the Rural showcases natural and artificial environments – traditionally considered opposites – operating harmoniously as one and creating a space that defies a binary, which is therefore inherently queer. The use of datamoshing captures naturally occurring and manmade elements affecting the space, tracks their interaction with one another, and maps and archives the presence of congruent features in the landscape. This process is fundamental to the content of the work; through manipulating the video file’s code and splicing together two elements that exist separately, The Queer in the Rural creates a visual experience that is both reminiscent of its original parts and a wholly new image with unique visual and conceptual narratives that emerge from the original combination. Though the resulting videos are considered to be corrupted or “broken” under the constructs in which they normally operate, this makes them aptly poised to reveal the everyday spaces, subjectivities, and intersecting spatial identities that are hidden from view or otherwise go unnoticed.

Alvin Luong, Taking is too easy, but that’s the way it is (Dance, Dance, Revolution?) (2016). Video.

You have got to give – Spice Girls, 1996

The 1990 London Poll Tax Riot marked the end of the Thatcher government’s eleven-year tenure of the British Parliament. Within those eleven years the Western world’s political economy shifted from a post-WW2 Keynesian welfare system into a neoliberal system that has since expanded all over the globe, becoming the system in which we live today. This system of political economy has been defined by prioritizing the rights of owners of capital, property, and means of production, with symptoms manifesting as: the defunding of securities for workers through austerity; the deregulation of finance; and the strengthening of state security apparatuses to ensure the rights of capital. Such a political economy crescendoed with The Great Recession and has accelerated with the current rise of nationalism, and resulting fascism, worldwide.

Six years after the London Poll Tax Riot, the Spice Girls released their hit song “Wannabe” in 1996, and Konami released their hit video game ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ later in 1998. Taking the title of Konami’s video game seriously, I asked it, ‘is there real revolutionary political will here?’, and I deduced the answer, ‘no’. This inquiry into political neutralization and complacency extends to Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”. In a gesture of satire and angst, I created a custom level of Dance Dance Revolution themed for Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” and the London Poll Tax Riot. In this absurdist intervention, the video game’s announcer is a revolutionary leader, the Spice Girls sing a song of rebellion, and the body moves along with the rioting public.

Xuan Ye, N BETWEEN () WE OSCILLATE(2018). Web and audio. 

IN BETWEEN () WE OSCILLATE is a web installation and an audiovisual prosody echoing the current global socio-political environment, where the proliferation of the digital and non-human, as well as diasporization and migration, point to a reality and subjectivity that are in a constant flux of oscillation.

Programmed in common front-end web technologies, IN BETWEEN () WE OSCILLATE animates pairs of English antonyms as data in the form of a sound wave spectrum. The words are fed through an antonym database found in an English-as-second-language (ESL) textbook. As the words scroll across the screen, alternating left and right, a soundtrack is played back that encodes the visualization of all antonym pairs as one spectrogram into audible frequencies. Considering language as materials, and the web as infrastructure and site, IN BETWEEN () WE OSCILLATE sculpts a neon light that is always on the move, and therefore impossible to materialize in the physical realm. Its disquieting statement literally conveys the instability of our time and its speculative vision; we exist within the bifurcations, dilemmas, and dichotomies along the spectrum and continuum of oscillation.

Using forms of digital poetics to explore the social and cultural potentials of language and media technologies, my current research focus examines the mechanisms behind natural and computer languages that have reconfigured our perceptions individually and jointly. I see my own artistic output as an attempt to deterritorialize the porous boundaries of media and culture, and to intervene in the systemic violence of language by visualizing xenopoetics’ view of “human experience as an open system in a metasystem of cosmic becoming”[1].

[1] Ireland, Amy. “Poetry is Cosmic War” Interview with A.J. Carruthers.” RABBIT 2016: 93-110.

Shaheer Zazai, Carpet No. 7 (2017). Digital image. 

Carpet No. 7 is one work from a larger series of digital textiles produced within Microsoft Word. It explores the effects of displacement, hybridization, and appropriation as a result of technological advances. The digital work is visually rooted in its method of production, Microsoft Word, while employing imagery drawn from traditional Afghan carpets. Every knot of a carpet is translated into a typed character, mimicking carpet-making methods in a familiar, widely-used software. Before computers, programming was used in production of textile designs through a jacquard loom; carpet weavers have also used a similar language in translating designs into knot per square inch. Computers and textiles have shared origins and histories, which come together in Carpet No. 7.

These Microsoft Word carpets serve as homage to the beauty of culture and tradition that has fallen victim to turbulent political turmoil. Will technological advances bridge the gap between a displaced population and their home country? Are we becoming a hybrid of our carried culture and adopted culture; or, is loss of culture an unavoidable factor in human development? Questions like these continue to fuel the artist’s practice, which aims to bring the focus back to the development of cultural identity through everyday technologies.

 

ABOUT THE FINALISTS

Anna Eyler holds a BA in Religious Studies and Art History from Carleton University (2010) and a BFA from the University of Ottawa (2015). Recent awards include the Artengine New Media Award (2015), the Sparkbox Residency Award (2016), and the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (2017). Her work is currently on display at the City Hall Art Gallery in Ottawa (2018). Eyler is an MFA candidate in Sculpture and Ceramics at Concordia University.

Emily Hamel is an interdisciplinary artist currently practicing in Hamilton, Ontario, where they recently graduated with a BFA from McMaster University. During their time at McMaster, they were awarded the Ignition Award for distinction in the Studio Art program. They have shown their work in numerous exhibitions in Ontario and throughout Canada. Their work exists primarily in the digital realm, grappling with concepts of queer identity, hybridity, and impermanence.

Alvin Luong fabricates personas and stories that integrate personal biography with historical narratives and contemporary events. The artist’s work reflects on moments of comedy, profoundness, and absurdity in life under various conditions of governance, culture, and economics. Through harnessing techniques used in mass media and entertainment, Luong creates a subversive dialogue with current issues, such as urbanization, climate, and war.
In 2016 Luong completed a BA (Honours) from the University of Toronto, achieving the highest standing in the field of Humanities within the class of 2016. Luong was awarded the OCAD University Off Screen Award for best New Media installation in the 2017 Images Festival, and in September 2018, will begin a period of residency at Inside-Out Art Museum (中间美术馆), Beijing, China. In addition to a career as an artist, Luong is also Co-Director and Curator of Bunker2 Contemporary Art Container, an experimental not-for-profit art gallery dedicated to showing challenging work by emerging and under- exhibited artists.

Xuan Ye (b.1989) is an interdisciplinary artist, performer, and researcher whose body of work synthesizes research-creations of music, visual arts, and performing arts. X recently completed an MFA degree in Visual Arts from York University and obtained an MA in Media and Cultural Studies at New York University in 2013. X has had works exhibited and performed internationally, at venues including Goethe-Institut (CHN), Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center (US), Trinity Square Video (CA), the Wrong Biennale (URL), AGYU (CA), Times Museum (CHN), Bronx Art Space (US), Galleri CC (SE), among others. Born and bred in China, X currently lives and works in Toronto, Canada.

Shaheer Zazai is a Toronto-based Afghan-Canadian artist with a current studio practice both in painting and digital media. His practice focuses on exploring and attempting to investigate the development of cultural identity in the present geopolitical climate and diaspora. Zazai received a BFA from OCAD University in 2011, and was the OCAD University Digital Painting Atelier Artist-in-Residence in 2015 for the production of his first Digital Carpet. He is also a recipient of Ontario Arts Council grants. Zazai has since had solo and group exhibitions such as those at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, Hazelton Lanes Art Festival and Project Gallery. His most recent solo exhibition titled Here Now Back Then at Double Happiness Projects (DHP) in Toronto was the first time his digital series was publicly displayed as a whole.

 

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