- BARRY ACE
- JEREMY BAILEY
- JEREMY BAILEY & KRISTEN D. SCHAFFER
- MADELYNE BECKLES
- MAYA BEN DAVID
- SCOTT BENESIINAABANDAN
- FREYA BJÖRG OLAFSON
- KALEY FLOWERS
- DESEARCH REPARTMENT
- CARLA GANNIS
- CARRIE GATES
- NANDAN GHIYA
- AMANDA LOW
- LORNA MILLS
- ENDAM NIHAN
- DOMINQUE PÉTRIN
- SARAH ROTHBERG
- MEGAN SMITH
- ANGELA WASHKO
Ottawa-based artist Barry Ace uses electronic resistors and capacitors to recreate historical Anishinaabeg floral and geometric beadwork motifs. Anishinaabeg beadwork is, for Ace "a metaphor for cultural continuity, bridging the past with the present and the future."1 By fusing traditional and contemporary materials and forms, Ace articulates the ways that Indigenous people have always adapted to complex cultural and technological changes, incorporating and using new forms, materials and mediums in culturally-specific ways that counter and resist dominant hegemonies. Included in this exhibition are several of Ace's bandolier bags - bags which have long since been an important part of Great Lakes Region regalia. Large and square, with a long strap, the crossbody design of the bandolier bag is adapted from the bags that European soldiers would use to carry rifle cartridges. The Anishinaabeg bandolier bag is ceremonial, given as a gift of friendship and honour. Like the glass beads generally used to adorn such items, the castoff electronic components that Ace uses are a continuation of this process of resilient adaptation. Ace's bags have video screens embedded within them, which help to tell the stories of the individuals and communities they honour. Bandolier for Alain Brosseau is dedicated to the 33-year-old Ottawa-based chef and sommelier whose 1989 murder by drowning forced Ottawa police to finally pay attention to violent hate crimes targeting the queer community. Bandolier for Wiikwemkoong screens a 1925 film, titled Indian Pow Wow, which depicts Anishinaabeg community members in Wikwemkoong, Manitoulin Island performing dances that would have otherwise been illegal for the entertainment of visiting bureaucrats and dignitaries. Transformation Bandolier is somewhat different; it screens Ace's previous works created with electronic components, rendering the material digital and respectfully acknowledging the work that he is doing within a historical lineage.
By using electronics and digital interfaces, Ace's work also calls to mind the important role that the internet has played in facilitating and broadcasting the work of Indigenous-led resistance movements like Idle No More and Families of Sisters in Spirit.
Barry Ace (Anishinaabe, Odawa) is a practicing visual artist and currently lives in Ottawa, Canada. He is a band member of M'Chigeeng First Nation, Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada. His mixed media paintings and assemblage textile works explore various aspects of cultural continuity and the confluence of the historical and contemporary. As a practicing visual artist, his work has been included in numerous group and solo exhibitions, and his work can be found in numerous public and private collections in Canada and abroad. Barry Ace was the 2015 recipient of the KM Hunter Visual Artist Award administered by the Ontario Arts Foundation.
1Barry Ace, Artist Statement. Artist's website, http://www.barryacearts.com/artist-statement/.
Like the late Steve Jobs, Toronto artist Jeremy Bailey's performative alter ego has a distinctive sartorial style. While the Apple CEO wore only black Issey Miyake mock turtlenecks and full-length Levis, Famous New Media Artist Jeremy Bailey wears a white mock turtleneck and sassy cutoffs that undercut the tech-bro-minimalist rationale of adopting a daily uniform for convenience's sake (Jobs' claim) and underscore the latent rationale of the uniform - it transforms the wearer into a brand. It makes you famous, just as it "helped make Jobs one of the most recognizable CEOs in the world."1 Wearing this uniform and adopting a self-aggrandizing moniker, Famous New Media Artist Jeremy Bailey is puckish, hyper, and optimistic to the point of being solipsistic, as blind to his privilege as a straight white cis guy building software as Bailey himself as is presciently self-aware. Famous New Media Artist Jeremy Bailey gives frenetic lectures on the radical potential of technology, using augmented reality to decorate, accessorize, and adorn his face and body with 3D objects and appendages - patently dumb ideas, which he sells with enthusiastic conviction.
In Nail Art Museum, he transforms his fingernails into museum plinths, using them to display a dizzying array of artworks, juxtaposing tiny 3D models of the Venus de Milo, a Durer painting, a Jeff Koons, a Donald Judd, and an Ai Weiwei with the work of his media art contemporaries Ryan Trecartin, Petra Cortright, and Rafaël Rozendaal. The plinths, he notes, can exhibit other stuff too - like palm trees, which give his hand an Art Basel vibe for a moment, or corporate logos, like the Nike swoosh that appears on his ring finger plinth. Bailey's words and actions playfully satirize the political and social economy of the contemporary art world and the role of the artist in a post-Postproduction landscape, where artists may, instead of creating unique works, "have the task of selecting cultural objects and inserting them into new contexts."2 Bailey assumes the role of the artist as content aggregator and curator, but also that of the institution, transforming his hand into a mini-museum. In doing so, his character reasons, he harnesses all institutional power and associated fame for himself, an undeniably radical, but ultimately selfish and unrealizable proposition.
Jeremy Bailey is a Toronto-based Famous New Media Artist. Recent projects by Bailey have been shown internationally and Bailey has been commissioned to create projects for FACT in Liverpool, Turner Contemporary in Margate UK, and The New Museum in New York. He is represented in Canada by Pari Nadimi Gallery.
1Alex Heath, "Why Steve Jobs Wore Turtlenecks" Cult of Mac, 11 October 2011, https://www.cultofmac.com/122575/why-steve-jobs-wore-turtlenecks/.
2Nicolas Bourriaud, Postproduction: Culture as Screenplay: How Art Reprograms The World. (New York: HAS & Sternberg, 2002), 1.
JEREMY BAILEY & KRISTEN D. SCHAFFER
Jeremy Bailey & Kristen D. Schaffer
Jeremy Bailey and Kristen D. Schaffer's Preturna is a pregnancy simulator. The user dons a VR headset and is virtually transported to an idyllic meadow. Too perfect to be real, it is a pharmaceutical ad landscape, the kind that the formerly allergic, impotent, or depressed find themselves frolicking through in television commercials, while a calm voice advises the viewer of the drug's potential side effects. Emphasizing the pharmaceutical nature of the work is the Preturna logo - bowl of the capital P stylized to look like a pregnant belly - which floats overhead. Looking down, you can see you are pregnant: your body is modeled after Schaffer's, which has been 3D scanned, baby bump added in post. You can feel your round firmness, but can you really feel what it's like to be pregnant unless you really are? An older, analog invention, The Empathy BellyR, is a 30-pound garment that impedes the wearer's breathing, pushes on their bladder, shifts the body's centre of gravity, and simulates fetal kicking in the organs. It has been used in "scared straight" teen pregnancy prevention programs, and in prenatal classes to give non-expectant parents a taste of what their partners are physically experiencing. But an hour or day of wearing an Empathy BellyR, or of wandering around in Preturna's weird landscape stroking your tummy wouldn't replicate the feeling of having one's own real body grow and change for months, nor could it ever simulate the phenomenological, emotional, and practical impacts of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Listening in the VR landscape of Preturna, you can hear a couple - the artists, who are married - debating whether to have kids or not. It is a real and familiar conversation that does much more to simulate understanding and empathy in the user than a fake belly - worn in this reality or an augmented one - ever could.
Jeremy Bailey is a Toronto-based self-proclaimed Famous New Media Artist and has performed and exhibited internationally. Kristen D Schaffer performs as a heterosexual married woman of childbearing age. Schaffer graduated with an MFA from The Slade School of Art in London, UK. Her current research as a doctoral student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education addresses how we teach socioecological issues to teenagers.
"I'm so happy, I could give a shit about being free!" exclaims artist Madelyne Beckles in her video, Theory of a Young Girl. The work takes inspiration from Preliminary materials for a theory of the young-girl, by the French collective Tiqqun, first published in 1999. Tiqqun's text outlines the ways capitalism fashions young women and other marginalized groups into ideal consumers by conflating freedom, commercialism, and desire. The Young-Girl is offered, through capitalism, "the possibility of choosing from among a thousand insignificances,"1 and is taught to believe that this is liberty. Beckles' pithy delivery of lines from the Tiqqun text are intercut with soft-focus tableaux and scenes of her using and applying baby pink makeup and personal care products, the tools of culturally-prescribed and consumer-driven femininity.
"The young girl desires the young girl," Beckles flatly states, gazing at her reflection in a pink hand mirror. But what the young girl desires for herself is the attainment of a kind of beauty not attainable by most. Her insecurity fuels her consumption. Though Beckles' video has the grainy, nostalgic haze of a VHS video, it speaks sharply to the contemporary experience of being expected to perform our femininity and our personal brand amidst the much-broadened media and retail landscape of the internet.
Madelyne Beckles is a multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto. Beckles holds a BFA in Art History with a Minor in Women's Studies from Concordia University, Montreal, and her work has been exhibited and screened internationally.
1Tiqqun, Preliminary materials for a theory of the young-girl. Triple Canopy, 22 May 2012, https://www.canopycanopycanopy.com/contents/preliminary_materials_for_a_theory_of_the_young_girl.
MAYA BEN DAVID
A dedicated cosplayer and lifelong, self-professed nerd, Maya Ben David has created a strange and complex universe populated by anthropomorphic beings all played by the artist herself. Much of her work addresses the misogyny of online fan communities - quick to accuse women in the community as being dabblers or "fake nerds," or subjecting them to hateful, lewd comments and inappropriately sexualizing them and their creations. Ben David throws it back to the haters, calling them out on Facebook and Instagram and in wickedly funny videos and live performances. In MBD: Origin Story, her most well-known character, an anthropomorphic plane named Air Canada Gal engages in a seductive dance with Spiderman, a cypher for male-dominated superhero fandoms that came before. Not recognizing her power and treating her instead like an adoring fangirl, Spidey dresses Air Canada Gal in cutoff jeans and pink Spiderman shirt. Enraged, she eats him alive, an allusion to Goya's Satan Destroying His Son (1821-1823), and the vore fan art proliferating on sites like deviantART - where monstrous, generally female, characters devour their helpless victims' whole.
Ben David often cosplays unlikely inanimate objects like an air conditioner, a baseball, or a Good Life Fitness giveaway bag; or amorphous materials like a stucco popcorn ceiling or a puff of pink fiberglass insulation. She gives her characters rich backstories, personalities, and agency, a feminist act that implores us to consider the ways that everyday objects are anthropomorphized, gendered, and even eroticized, while women are conversely objectified.
Maya Ben David is a Toronto-based Jewish-Iranian Anthropomorphic Airplane. She holds a BA from the University of Guelph, has received multiple awards and residencies, and her work has been shown online and internationally. Ben David also plays a character called MBD who is known for having multiple feuds with her many alter egos as well as the art world. Most infamously, MBD has ignited online feuds with artists such as Jon Rafman and Ajay Kurian.
The viewer entering the VR world of Monumentalisms, created by Montreal-based artist Scott Benesiinaabandan (Obishikokaang Anishinaabe First Nation), experiences a contested space the artist refers to as "an intuitive psychogeography."1 Although the world looks thoroughly digital, there is a painstaking craftsmanship to the imagery - Monumentalisms is comprised of over 600 photographs of two monument locations (The Jacque Cartier monument in St.Henri and the Chomedey-Maisonneuve monument) in Old Montreal. In this world built by Benesiinaabandan, monuments are no longer designed to conjure up the past, but to create a way into a future.
Scott Benesiinaabandan is an Anishinabe intermedia artist that works primarily in photography, printmaking and video. Benesiinaabandan has been included in several international group exhibitions and participated in numerous prestigious international residencies, and has been awarded multiple grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba Arts Council and the Winnipeg Arts Council.
FREYA BJÖRG OLAFSON
Winnipeg artist Freya Björg Olafson's video, Painting With the Man references Yves Klein's 1960 Anthropémetries series, elaborate performances whereby the artist, sharply dressed in a suit and bowtie, would "paint" by directing naked women (his "living paintbrushes") to cover their bodies in paint of his signature shade, International Klein Blue, then to press and smear their bodies against white canvasses, leaving impressions. "In this way," the artist, ever the misogynist, famously said, "I stayed clean. I no longer dirtied myself with color, not even the tips of my fingers." Olafson's work, like Klein's, envisions "painting" as a performative act and considers new ways to create two-dimensional artworks, but in this case, a clothed male figure serves at the artist's anthropomorphic paintbrush. A 32-neuron motion capture suit allowed Olafson, a trained dancer, to transfer her movement and painterly intentions to a readymade generic (read: white and fit) 3D male model dressed in a blue suit. As the figure moves, he leaves snow-angel traces behind, filling the screen-as-canvas with painterly, gestural "brushstrokes."
CPA (Consistent Partial Attention) is a dance-based artwork developed and directed by Freya Björg Olafson and performed by Olafson alongside collaborators Lise McMillan and James Phillips. The choreography is taken from YouTube clips of individuals dancing in their homes, which are accessed via a variety of screens - laptops, monitors, headsets, and a projection - all visible to the performers but not to the audience. The performers replicate and interpret the movements they watch on-screen, paying partial attention to their bodies in space, and partial attention to the screens before them. It is a difficult, yet increasingly familiar state to find oneself in, as anyone who has bumped into something or someone while walking and texting can attest. CPA also points to the ways that distinctions between high and low forms of expression are diffuse and permeable, particularly in the Web 2.0 era. Much like street fashion tends to influence high-end design, the vocabulary of dance has always been influenced by its vernacular expression - by traditional or folk dance, or by the ways that people move their bodies in the club. Now, because of technology that allows users to easily record and upload content to sites like YouTube, we can see how people dance by themselves in their bedrooms and dens, how they dance when no one (but the cameraphone) is watching.
Freya Olafson is an intermedia artist who works with video, audio, painting and performance. As performer and creator, Freya blends 6 years classical training in the Professional Program of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in New Media from the Transart Institute / Donau Universitat. Olafson has been a member of the curatorial committee for the núna (now) festival since 2006 and is a research collaborator with the newly established Canadian Consortium for Performance and Politics in the Americas. Her work has been featured in numerous international performance festivals and exhibitions.
Toronto artist Kaley Flowers uses the tactile materiality of clay to explore ephemeral and formless subjects and ideas. Her sculptures often feature genderless humanoid figures gazing into the screens of laptops propped up on their pudgy, squidgy bodies. Their facial features have the simplicity of emoticons but convey oddly complex emotional states: feelings of contented boredom, of being alone together. One appears to be shedding its outer skin like a shroud. Another's body is adorned with tiny, precious decals sourced from the internet's vast archive of clip art .GIFs - hearts and flowers, a desktop monitor, a playing card, a chat window, and most prominently, the glorious phrase FREE TIME. Its fingers merge with the keyboard, pooling together in candy-hued puddles of glaze, as if the two are becoming one in a blissfully symbiotic union. These pieces are nostalgic, reminiscent of the early days of the internet, when its labyrinthine structure was (perhaps satisfyingly) tricky to navigate, when getting an email was exciting, when we weren't sure what to do online, so we just hung out - before e-commerce, various regulatory bodies and mass usership turned a weird utopian place for what felt like a few into just another space to do business.
Some of Flower's artworks riff on the functionality of ceramics - by embedding USB keys into her sculptures, she transforms them into vessels that store data. Other works function as hybrid digital wallets and old-school ceramic piggybanks. Sculpted to look like Caboodles storage cases or little girls' jewelry boxes, they are decaled with QR codes containing public keys for small amounts of cryptocurrency, stored online. The private keys, which are also needed to access the contents of the digital wallets, are etched inside the hollowed out and sealed shut ceramic boxes. A treatise on their own value as artworks, the sculptures would have to be destroyed to cash in the funds in their associated wallets. Given that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are subject to highly volatile market fluctuations, the temptation to smash them may rise and fall alongside the market.
Kaley Flowers is a Toronto-based ceramic artist and a graduate of OCAD University. Flowers has exhibited internationally and has been featured in Canadian Art, The Creators Project, The Globe and Mail, and CBC Arts.
Early discourse around the 'world wide web' lauded it a space where intellectual freedom could be king, and everyone might be equal. For a short time at the start of the internet's history, advertising took up a minimal portion of one's screen experience. But in the years since its inception, some corners of the internet have become unsafe spaces, where the patriarchy still dominates, and the darker side of commercialism thrives. Desearch Repartment uses the visual culture of branding in the age of the internet as it's key aesthetic. The ethos of Desearch's work also aligns with the ethos of the hypocritical online and offline self-help industry, because marketing works best when it makes potential buyers feel bad, and evoke a desire for a kind of improvement in feeling that is generally only remedied through purchases. The work of Desearch Repartment also critically underlines important shifts in the age of the internet - the change in structures around the compensation for labour, and the myth that the internet has been, or continues to be, a democratic space. It has always been easier for the rich to speak, and be heard, than the poor. Desearch Repartment reveals that the web and digital space are no exception.
Desearch Repartment (DR) came out of a political shift in the early 2000s that coincided with the invention of relational aesthetics and the birth of the Internet. When the walls fell on 9/11 identity politics also fell away, opening up a new sense of cultural, political, and social relativity where artistic colonization could flourish. Through the combined genesis of social media and social practices, the commodification of human relations became a stepping stone on which DR built its foundation, laying the groundwork for the Institute for Durational Futures and the ESSENTIALHAPPINESSPOSSIBILITY.
In The Selfie Drawings, Carla Gannis harnesses the tropes of the traditional self-portrait, through the lens of what she describes as a "digital looking glass".1 This series of 52 digital prints, created over a period of 52 weeks in 2015, depicts Gannis' selfie in multiple historical and contemporary contexts referencing art history, popular culture, the media, semiotics, and technology among others. While using the app Blippar, viewers can hover over each image with their smartphone to activate the image, enabling an augmented experience as the imagery leaps off the still surface of the work. As such Gannis merges the past, present and future within the contexts of both the physical and the ephemeral and demonstrates the 'Self' as a compliant and gregarious player in both systems. And along with the fun and thrills of new media, her self-portraits still grapple with the persistent human question of "Who am I?". Gannis, who identifies as a visual storyteller, is fascinated by digital semiotics and how identity is situated and contextualized in the blur of real and virtual.
Carla Gannis is based in Brooklyn, New York and received a BFA in painting from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an MFA in painting from Boston University. In the late 1990s she began to incorporate digital technologies into her work, and in 2005 she was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Grant in Computer Arts. Currently she is a professor and assistant chairperson of The Department of Digital Arts at Pratt Institute. Gannis' work has appeared in over 20 solo exhibitions and numerous group exhibitions both nationally and internationally and has been featured in numerous international publications.
1Carla Gannis. Artist website. Bio/CV/Reviews, Statement. http://carlagannis.com/blog/biographical/bio/. Accessed April 27, 2018.
Saskatoon-based artist Carrie Gates' strategy for creating .GIFs starts with sourcing web imagery and animating their repetitions. Gates' compositional approach is one of layering, resulting in time-based collages that make one feel as though they are being pulled into, or pushed out of, the digital worlds she creates. Gates references the visual culture of the internet by referencing 'glitches' in her art, using the aesthetics of digital errors to create jarring, hypnotic visual experiences.
Carrie Gates is a VJ (live mixing artist), digital media artist, and graphics/web designer living in Saskatoon, SK. She has played an active role in experimental electronic music communities and independent artist-run organizations since the mid-1990s and has been featured live and digitally with numerous festivals and projects. She holds a degree in Art History from the University of Saskatchewan.
Nandan Ghiya's two bodies of work in URL:IRL consider how the advent of digital has relocated everything real into a virtual space. Generating 'pixels' over found and manipulated historical photographs, Ghiya takes 'real' images and aesthetically and physically, turns them 'digital'. The Pet Pixel Unveiling of Our Ancestors (2014) and Eleven Perspectives (2013) share the aesthetic of a corrupted or still-downloading image - picture frame and all. Mixing the visual culture of internet errors with archival images, Ghiya's manipulation of his images could be interpreted as a violent kind of gesture - how the material object may be suffering to support the existence of the scanned digital immaterial. This potential interpretation is doubly troubling given that Ghyia's works tend to use historical photographs of Indian families or objects, placed in groups with a logic shared with a Google Image Search, as though one searched a word, and these were the corresponding images which turned up.
Nandan Ghiya is an emerging, self-taught artist based in Jaipur, Rajasthan. He has exhibited internationally and outside of his art practice, he works in design consultancy.
If one asked the average person how the internet was created, or how the internet works, most would be unable to explain the history or the narrative, despite our understanding how to visit and interact with websites. Amanda Low's ORIGINOFTHE.NET (2016) poetically considers how the internet, conceptually, came to be. Each link on the site takes you further down (or up, or through) a text-based environment - slyly referencing early role-playing, text-based computer games. Each click moves further into strange vestiges of online histories.
Low's other web project featured in URL:IRL, ETERNALLYMOVING.COM (2017), is a similarly confounding journey, exploring the meaning of lost links and domains. "Link rot" is another part of the visual culture of the web that most internet users might be familiar with, but not think often about. The piece underscores how although we often think of the web as a place for endless storage - we do not often grasp that it is also a vulnerable place capable of forgetting, and a place for loss. Both of Low's projects in URL:IRL underscore the existential qualities of our visits to digital worlds.
Amanda Low is a graduate of OCAD University who plays with medium specific narratives and storytelling through both traditional and non-traditionally animated means. Her practice currently deals with web art and the browser as a medium.
Lorna Mills' video installation Colour Fields features eight monitors, each playing a .GIF animation sourced from Web forums like Reddit, humour sites or other such user-moderated sites, set within backgrounds of hyperbolic colour. The installation takes a candid look at the underbelly of the Internet, with all its bawdy foibles, appealing to our attractions to things maudlin, dirty, glitchy, slap-stick, and sybaritic. .GIFs (graphic interchange format) are a relatively basic platform for quick, cyclical animations, and Mills makes no effort to hide the gears of this machine but instead exposes her material by highlighting the pixelization and glitches, and sets them on uncontextualized coloured screens, only in conversation within a seemingly random selection of other .GIFs. In doing so, she mirrors the experience of slithering through the Internet and being wonderfully subject to the perversity that can be found on the wild, wild Web.
In 2014-15, Lorna Mills curated the four-part video series Ways of Something in response to the seminal 1974 BBC documentary series Ways of Seeing by English art critic John Berger. Berger's original series examines the conditions under which we see and come to understand art, media and advertising, and usefully deconstructs how meaning is made, or assumed, in a world of images. For Mills' remake, she asked 113 digitally-based artists to contribute a one-minute work that responds to unique conditions of artmaking post-Internet. Each 30-minute episode in Ways of Something presents a wide-ranging series of work that resonates with Berger's fundamental ideas and pivots them towards a new aesthetic and, ultimately, a richer analysis of how we generate meaning from what we see.
Originally form Yorkton, SK, Lorna Mills is based in Toronto, ON. From 1993-1994 she studied Digital Media Studies at the Information Technology Design Center at the University of Toronto. Mills has exhibited internationally and online, and is represented by TRANSFER in Brooklyn, New York and DAM Gallery in Berlin.
Endam Nihan's video and performative works highlight the complex ways digital spaces perpetuate female stereotypes and other gender-based visual tropes. Her three-channel video/sound installation Hold It presents a female directed by a male voice to hold a series of poses - poses designed to sell an unclear product and poses that represent a particular presentation of femininity constructed through a male gaze. In perfect 365, a single selfie was cycled 108 times through an AR beauty smartphone app, Perfect365, whose face detection automatically adds layered makeup filters. As the facial features become lost through 108 translations, the application fails to recognize the face, especially after looping through another app, FaceFilm. The resulting video becomes a metaphor for, among many things, our interminable desire to become someone who we are not on and through the Internet; the threat of self-erasure of accurate self-understanding as apps impact our ability to see ourselves as we truly are; and the lack of anonymity in virtual space, as the online and offline worlds we inhabit now host technologies that can identify and analyze our every move.
Endam Nihan born and raised in Turkey and currently resides in Upstate NY, USA. She holds a BFA in Visual Communication Design from Sabanci University and an MFA in Art Video from SYracuse University. Her work has previously been exhibited internationally, in exhibitions as well as film and video festivals.
The collaged installations of Dominique Pétrin feel digital, like one is walking into an early digital (mingled with Y2K) aesthetic - but the construction of her work could not be more analogue. Pétrin's process involves screen printing works in her studio, and then installing the 2D pieces onsite to create spaces that collapse perspective, creating visual distortions and effecting proprioception. The aesthetic of the work collapses the aforementioned aesthetics of early digital art with distinctive Y2K visual cues, creating the sensation that one has walked through digital noise into a moving, IRL .GIF. Although Pétrin's work is imminently instagrammable (search #dominiquepetrin for some examples), seeing her work in person is a different experience, evoking broader discourses around art and the internet today. How well one can understand an art work without seeing it in the flesh? What virtual encounter can displace the real encounter? Can you 'get it' from just a .JPG? With the work of Pétrin, one can 'get' it on one level, but to feel it in one's body is a visceral experience.
Dominique Pétrin is a multidisciplinary artist based in Montreal, Canada. A former member of the petrochemical rock band Les Georges Leningrad from 2000-2007, she also collaborated with renowned international artists and has been selected for multiple prestigious art residencies. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and internationally. In 2014, she was longlisted for the Sobey Award. She is represented in Canada by antoine ertaskiran gallery.
Sarah Rothberg's pieces in URL:IRL use VR as a medium to create immersive poems exploring the notion of desire, and how desire functions differently in real life versus virtual reality. In Touching a Cactus, your interactions with a virtual cactus lead to various scenes where time is slowed down, or sped up, until your own body is made virtual amidst an audio track of various lines of poetry.
The VR user of Sarah Rothberg's The New News steps into a strange room in which an avatar of the artist reads, like a journalist behind a news desk, items from Rothberg's Facebook News Feed. During a fraught time where the ethics of Facebook's algorithms are being contested, Rothberg's The New News, created prior to such controversy, conversely reminds us that sometimes the internet is very mundane and perhaps everything will be OK. But will it be OK?
Sarah Rothberg is an artist who captures the interplay between technology, systems, and the personal, creating meaning through unique and often strange interactions. Rothberg began her career as a poet, and moved into visual art later, using new media like VR as a tool for writing, and presenting narratives as digital creations. Her work has been exhibited internationally and she teaches virtual reality at NYU and the New School.
Megan Smith's research project Riding Through Walls simultaneously straddles real and virtual worlds. Drawing from DIY and Maker practices, Smith rigged up a stationary bike to Google Street View and embarked a multi-year durational performance starting in 2015 at the western end of the Trans-Canada Highway in Victoria, BC that will culminate during the course of the URL:IRL exhibition at the tip of Cape Breton, NS. Equipped with a stationary bike, a networked computer, Google Street View, a colourful outfit and three and a half years of cycling, Smith has virtually traversed the spans of the great Canadian landscape from coast-to-coast in real-time, via a magnificent and poetic physical performance that enables her to metaphorically "pierce through the Internet"1, humanizing our relationship with the Internet by demonstrating a vast and playful journey through the web's lush tendrils.
Megan Smith is a new media artist and curator who holds a PhD in Contemporary Art & Graphic Design from Leeds Beckett University. She has participated in multiple international artist residencies and has been shown internationally. Smith was Creative Director and co-Founder of Ottawa's Nuit Blanche festival from 2012 to 2015, and is currently Assistant Professor in Creative Technology within the Faculty of Media+Art+Performance at the University of Regina.
1Megan Smith. Project Anywhere. Riding Through Walls. http://www.projectanywhere.net/riding-through-walls-megan-smith/. Accessed April 24, 2018.
Angela Washko dedicates much of her art practice and writing to activate feminism on the Internet, gaming sites and other digital platforms - spaces where sexism prevails. In her Free Will Mode series of works, Washko captures two-hours of activity staged in the life simulation game The Sims. Washko's Sims characters exist in environments she has built that are filled with constraints ranging from missing doors to lack of food. Set to 'free will mode', these constraints cause characters to fumble about, eating, sleeping, peeing, yelling, crying and eventually dying, seemingly unable to free themselves from their predicament. Washko, in her writing and art work, encourages us to develop positive online identities, and to question and react to traditional power structures so that diversity, sexual equality and personal autonomy can prevail online and IRL.
Since 2012, New York-based artist and writer Angela Washko has operated The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft, an ongoing intervention inside the most popular online role-playing game of all time. Washko's most recent project, The Game: The Game is a video game presenting the practices of several prominent seduction coaches (aka pick-up artists) through the format of a dating simulator. A recipient of a Franklin Furnace Performance Fund Grant, a Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art at the Frontier Grant from the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, and a Rhizome Internet Art Microgrant, Washko's practice has been highlighted in numerous international art publications and included in numerous international art exhibitions, and her writing has been published in several international academic journals.