ALBERTA COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN FACULTY ASSOCIATION
Chris Cran In The Forest, 2011 1
Chris Cran Manifesto, 2010 2
Editor’s Letter John Calvelli i d o n ’ t k n o w what got into me in the Spring, when I proposed in this column that some faculty might want to take a picture of themselves as “summer slugs.” I thought it was a great subject for a bit of collective faculty research, but neglected the fact that our summers are quickly filled with catching up on the research projects we have already set for ourselves. Nevertheless, I was able, for just a few minutes, at least to simulate the umvelt of the limax alpes aestivus, the proverbial summer slug found in Swiss mountainous terrain, and subject in that season to the ingestion of too much philosophy. But what’s too much philosophy when you have begun your PhD? I actually quite enjoyed it, but at the particular moment I took this photo my head was hurting. From 10 am to 10 pm each day, 6 days per week for 3 weeks I was injesting seminars and lectures from the likes of Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou on subjects relating to Heideggerian deep boredom, Derridian hospitality, psychoanalysis, the monstrous, collective trauma, the human as the
workless animal, matrixial transjectivity, Buddhism, the dispositif, micrological resistance, Ereignis, Oedipedagogy, Thaumazein, stupidity, synaptic plasticity… My head has recovered and is a lot
richer for the learning. In fact, I can’t wait to return next summer. For now, I’m parceling bits and upturning stones hoping to find crumbs of a question. In the end, it always begins with a question.
word bites (glossary) consult v. seek counsel, advice, information from (collinsGem) gatsby (?) n. [< gatz] possibly a paraphrase of the vt. get[s], meaning to obtain, procure; contract; catch; earn; cause to go or come . . . (collinsGem), brilliantly nonsense-ified by author, fitzgerald, to serve a larger, criticalCreative purpose works bited (intertexts) bastienBetty. blackfoot ways of knowing (2004). book. bearspaWMedia. duty to consult (2007). dvd. brownRichard. “brown ascending acad’s south-facing precipice” (October 17, 2012). drawing. collinsGemEnglishDictionary: pocketEdition (1985). book. duchampsMarcel. “nude descending a staircase no. 2” (1912). painting. fitzgeraldFscott. the great gatsby (1926). novel. hendrixJimi. “if 6 was 9” (1969). vinyl. huxleyFrancis. raven and the writing desk (1976). book. malcolmNoel. origins of English nonsense (1997). book. mccallumPamela. cultural memories: art of jane ash poitras (2011). book. williamsWilliamcarlos. “red wheelbarrow” (1923). poem.
Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver October 12, 2012 – February 3, 2013 derek beaulieu of October 12th I was honoured to speak at the vernissage and opening for Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art, the largest exhibition ever staged by Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art. acad’s Faculty Professional Affairs Committee was kind enough to support my involvement and the curators of the exhibition Nora Burnett Abrams and Andrea Andersson matched that support. The exhibition features the work of over 50 international artists, including 6 Canadians (3 of which are Calgarian), exploring the conceptual possibilities of language. Conceptual writing is writing which could function comfortably as conceptual art, writing which focuses on the materiality and transmission of text as text. Throughout the exhibition artists explore how we read, look at, hear and process language. Historically important Conceptual artists such as Andy Warhol, Sol LeWitt,
on the weekend
Marcel Broodthaers and Dan Graham are each represented by book works (such as Warhol’s 1968 transcription novel a, A Novel) while contemporary Conceptual writers such as Kenneth Goldsmith, Vanessa Place, Christian Bök, Robert Fitterman, Fiona Banner and myself are represented through large-scale installations, artworks, and time-based performance. Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art includes 46 paintings from my 2004 suite “The Newspaper.” On Thursday July 18, 2002 I started reading The Calgary Herald. For the next two years, everyday, the same day’s newspaper. For two years I exhaustively read every page of the July 18, 2002 Calgary Herald and reconstructed each of the 124 pages as a full-scale painting. I aimed not to look at a specific event – I purposefully avoided days associated with major news stories – but to interpret the actual structure of the quotidian medium of the daily newspaper. I created a representative system based not on the specific content of each article, but rather on the overarching subject matters of those articles: international, national, provincial and local news, entertainment, sports, busi-
ness, health and ever-present advertising. Reading the newspaper in a typical fashion – reading the actual content of each article, following fractures across pages and eliding the advertisements – prompted Marshall McLuhan to observe that reading a newspaper was an experience of Cubism in the everyday world. After my traditional reading, I tabulated each article, sorting and discovering what The Calgary Herald presented on a “slow news day.” I assigned each category a different hue, and then each article within each category a varying shade of that hue: 30 international news reds, 9 national news yellows, 11 provincial news browns, 12 local news pinks, 28 entertainment blues, 32 sports greens, 19 business purples, 10 health oranges. There are 151 different news articles in 8 separate categories in that single day’s Calgary Herald. And over 125 different ads and 36 full pages of flyers – all represented through 4 shades of grey. In Counterblast, McLuhan stated that “the newspaper…structures ordinary unawareness in patterns which correspond to the most sophisticated maneuvers of mathematical physics and modern painting,” and the newspaper has continued to be an inspiration to artists who seek to interpret and “make strange” the quotid6
ian information contained in each issue. As I laboured through the series of paintings, the vocabulary of The Calgary Herald was systematically replaced with colours. Naphtha Red, Turner’s Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Phthalocyanine Green, Dioxanine Purple, Perinone Orange. Like any constraint-based project, despite the restrictions I placed on language the form itself asserted a moment of chromatic editorializing: what had been lengthy reports on the fiscally conservative, right-wing Ralph Klein provincial government’s drought relief effort were now simply fields of Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber. Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art will travel to Toronto’s Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (2013) and Michigan State University’s Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum (2014).
Esplanade Art Gallery presents
Folly: Château Mathieu August 25 – December 8, 2012 Esplanade Art Gallery, Medicine Hat 401 First Street SE An accompanying bookwork, Folio: Château Mathieu is forthcoming. Diana Sherlock
7/5/12 3:57:27 PM
in the summer of 2009,
Alberta artists M.N. Hutchinson, Walter May, Gloria Mok, Greg Payce, Laura Vickerson and visual arts writer and curator Diana Sherlock were invited by the Henry family to develop a residency at the Château Mathieu, a private residence built in the French Borough of Caen in 7
Lower Normandy in the latter part of the 18th century. Constructed at the beginning of the French Enlightenment, Château Mathieu marks an important shift from private worlds of wealth, wonder and subjectivity to the rise of rationalist thought and its subsequent organization into modern epistemologies
by public institutions. Housed within the château’s puce walls are tales of excess and ruin spanning the bloody terror of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, the brazen Nazi occupation of France during WWII, and the French Resistance’s collaboration with the British that culminated in the battle of Nor-
mandy and the end of the war. Château Mathieu’s lonely halls whisper more personal stories as well; ones of scientific, artistic and colonial discovery, silent espionage, and the struggle to maintain a home during conflict, illness and economic collapse. From diverse individual perspec-
tives, and without a predetermined outcome in mind, each of the six participants mined the rich history of the Château Mathieu to produce new works for the exhibition Folly: Château Mathieu that draw parallels between significant moments in the chateau’s history and our contemporary time. Seduced by
M.N. Hutchinson, from The Incident at Normandy: Parts 1 – 23 (2012), archival inkjet on Hahnemühle paper, 43 x 53 cm 8
Normandy coast spy stories ranging from the Bayeaux tapestry to the French Revolution to the chateau’s repeated occupation in WWII, M.N. Hutchinson adopted the persona of a spy, an unwilling collaborator, who produced, The Incident at Normandy: Parts 1 – 23 (2012). This series of photographs evinced lesser known tales through a series of performances modeled on tableaux vivants, a popular form of amateur entertainment that has its history entwined with that of photography and was often enacted in aristocratic homes such as the Château Mathieu. Walter May’s interests also lie in things that fall outside of our direct view or remain on the periphery of our understanding, mute objects that are not always legible or avoid easy articulation. Over the course of the two-week residency, May made fourteen new sculptures (one for each day) from branches, discarded tool handles and found objects including a dented, enamel watering jug and an old wooden clock base. These discarded, overlooked or dysfunctional things were refashioned into ambiguous objects that were seamlessly positioned by May throughout the dank workspaces at the Château Mathieu. May’s new series,
Greg Payce, The Customs and the Spirit of the Nations: Candide (2011), lenticular image of ceramics, 100 x 117 cm
Cutting, Pruning, Windfall, Deadfall (2010 – 2012), mirrors his working process in France and is also a collection of fourteen stumps with old wooden tool handles that are hung from twine and chain. Edmonton artist Gloria Mok combined remnants from Jacques Henry’s 1948 amateur herbarium with references from the château’s extensive natural history book collection to produce her own “artist’s 9
herbarium” in sketchbooks, drawings and two new series of collages, Botanica I – VI and botanica i – vi (2012) for Folly: Château Mathieu. Greg Payce was also interested in the vast library of books spanning Enlightenment thought, especially the philosophical works of François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire 1694 –1778) who championed social reform and civil liberties, particularly cultural and religious toler-
Walter May, Grip, from Cutting, Pruning, Windfall, Deadfall (2010 – 2012), a collection of 14 works; branches, wooden handles, cord, chain, various lengths from 36 to 76 cm 10
ance, prior to the French Revolution. For Payce, the château was an emblem of the Enlightenment and Voltaire one of its loudest voices. Payce’s lenticular images of his ceramic garnitures The Customs and the Spirit of the Nations: Candide, Occident, and Orient (all three from 2011), are inspired by Voltaire’s volume of the same title from 1756. Drawing on the Second World War diary of Jeanne-Clarisse Henry, the matriarch of the Henry family who lived at the chateau during the war, Laura Vickerson’s textiles and sculptures explore the matrilineal legacy of the Château Mathieu. Responding to specific sites at the chateau, the chapel, garden and domestic spaces, Vickerson used embroidery as well as materials related to the elegant garments and opulent domestic interiors of these “ladies of leisure” (such as silk, organza and velvet) in a subversive way to speak about women’s roles in the private and public spheres during the Victorian era. In addition to Folly: Château Mathieu, the main exhibition at the Esplanade Art Gallery, the artists installed a selection of documentation of artworks they made at the château with new works made specifically for the Ewart-Duggan Residence, the 1887 two-story Victorian
red-brick house that is Alberta’s oldest brick home and now, a designated historic resource and an arts/heritage residency on the grounds of the Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre in Medicine Hat. The title Folly refers directly to the château as a set or artificial construct that shaped the project from the outset, as well as to the sense of pleasure and play that is so integral to artistic research. The question of what constitutes artistic research became one of the talking points for the project, which was spurred, in part, by funding from The Alberta College of Art + Design Marion Fund for Innovation in Research and Teaching and the Alberta Creative Development Initiative. The residency did provide participants an opportunity to engage in open-ended research and artistic experimentation at a specific site over an extended period of time, resulting in the production of new works, new artistic knowledge. The forthcoming catalogue Folio: Château Mathieu documents the residency and exhibition, while also being a creative bookwork. Folly/Folio: Château Mathieu revels in a highly subjective, intuitive, almost fictive approach to history, research and criticism. My text and the premise for the
Gloria Mok, Knowledge installed in Château Mathieu’s chapel June 2009, archival inkjet, 25.5 x 20 cm. Photography: M.N. Hutchinson 11
exhibition and bookwork borrow from ficto-criticism, a form of writing that collapses traditional conventions of fiction, theory and criticism, which has been widely used in the Canadian art context
by psychoanalyst and critic Jeanne Randoph. As a critical strategy, ficto-criticism resists categorizations and disciplinary boundaries making it well suited to Folly/ Folio: Chateau Mathieu, a project framed
from the outset as an experimental artistic research project â€“ the premise being that artistic research is informed by both invention and speculation (fiction) as well as deduction/explication (criticism).
Laura Vickerson, We All Fall Down (2009), embroidered textile, 104 x 135 cm 12
Olga Chagaoutdinova awarded Eleonora Duse Prize in Italy August 2012
was established by Flavia Paulon in 1977 in celebration of the “Divine” in love with Asolo, where she stayed for long periods and where, by her express desire, was buried in the small and intimate cemetery of St. Anna. The award was first given to the actress Ingrid Bergman, who retold the life of Eleonora Duse in a long interview over Ms. Duse’ grave. Other famous actresses of theatre and cinema who have received the award are: Elisabeth Burgner in 1982 (10th edition), Monica Vitti in 1983(11th edition), Paola Borboni in 1984 (12th edition), Ottavia Piccolo in 2008 (27th edition), Golshifte Farahani in 2009 (28th edition) the young and brave Iranian actress and in 2011 the italian actress Anna Maria Guarnieri. the eleonora duse prize
Here is a link to Eleonora Duse profile: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleonora_Duse and the link for Asolo Art International Film Festival: http://www.asolofilmfestival.it/en/festival-2012/premi/
Olga Chagaoutdinova with her award in Asolo
Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculty Associations Conference Jasper Park Lodge June 2012 Patti Dawkins, ACADFA Office Manager
Mona Tanya Rusnak kicks off her shoes and relaxes while Larry Riedl ponders the news
Chris Frey relaxes with Mona before his presentation 14
Angela Regnier, Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Communications Officer took a liking to the ACADFA contingent, as well as Mona Lisa and the two bears.
John Calvelli gets creative with Mona Lisa and his iPad
Natali Rodrigues ponders the magnitude of nature during a stop at the Weeping Wall
Tanya Rusnak and ACADFA President, Alex Link on their way home from the Conference stop along the banks of the Sunwapta River
was attended this year by four members of the ACADFA Executive: John Calvelli, Alex Link, Natali Rodrigues and Tanya Rusnak, as well as NAC team members Larry Riedl and Chris Frey. Amery Calvelli came along to work in the outstanding environment around Jasper Park Lodge. Chris Frey and ACADFA Office Manager Patti Dawkins were presentors. Chris’ presentation, “Critical-Creative Collaboration/Commitment/Connection Narrative Style”, was well received by those attending and had us giggling while looking at the results of our collaborative storybooks. Patti Dawkins gave a presentation entitled “Mona Lisa: Connections/Collections”, which was well attended and elicited many chuckles. Conference delegates took many photos using the Mona Lisa costume from Patti’s collection as a prop.
t h e a c i fa c o n f e r e n c e
Amery Calvelli working at the edge pf Lac Beauvert
Mona Lisa rests after a long day of performing
Visite à Trois Rivières Heather Huston, Print Media/Fibre
e n n ov e m b e r ,
j’irai à Trois Rivières pour parler de mon travail en éstampe avec les étudiants de l’Université de Québec a Trois Rivières et avec les artistes du centre Presse Papier. Ce sera la premiere fois que je parle de mes oevres en francais et come les francophones peut deja voir (allo Mireille! Bonjour President Doz!), je ne suis pas francophone et mon français est - je vais etre gentille - interesant. Je suis un peu nerveux; depuis que j’ai obtenu mon diplôme d’études secondaires, j’ai parler le francais quelques fois par année pendant les quinze derniers années. Je peux penser en français, mais il ya des mots qui me manquent, et mes pensées sont simplifiées. Je tire des mots bizarres de quelque parts et j’invente de nouvelles qui ne font pas de sens pour ceux qui parles français. Quand je commence à écrire et expressé mes idées dans cette autre langue qui n’est pas aussi familière, et avec
Heather Huston Collapsed Distance, 2011
qui je manque les phrases et termes familieres, je me demande comment est que ca va changer comment je descrit mes pensées et concepts? C’est un exercise interessant a consideré comment une langue et notre familierité change notre relation aux idées. Peut être rien vas changer et ce serait seulement une activitée a passer mes idées d’une langue a une autre que je suis moins a l’aise avec. Peut être ca permettra aussi de nouvelles idées a percoler. Je commence avec ce petit bout d’écriture comme un moyen de commencer a penser et a écrire a nouveau en français, meme si c’est une étrange bricole d’aglaisismes et des petites morceaux de grammaires que je me souviens de mes années a l’école. Peut être ce sera un nouveau contexte pour mes pensées ou peut être je serai la fille étrange qui a detruit la langue français en nom d’art à Trois Rivières.
Why did the VCD students cross the mall? Ian FitzGerald M.A., VCD Sessional instructor
l a s t s e m e s t e r 34 intrepid VCD students crossed over. They ventured into new territory – many had never visited other wings of the school, to say nothing of a first exposure to one of the basic
tenets of marketing: know your market. I have had the pleasure of introducing third year VCD students to the fundamentals of advertising and marketing (PPRL 325) on Friday afternoons for many years at ACAD. A major thrust for this course is to give students a look-see at the underpinnings of advertising and graphic design – the business angle, the commercial imperative, and the strategic planning that occurs prior to creative 19
endeavours. In practice, marketing plans and creative briefs (a roadmap for art directors/designers to follow) are informed by market research, a multi-faceted undertaking that uses techniques such as surveys and focus groups to help marketers ‘know their market’. It was with this in mind that I devised an assignment that had my students conduct research and create segment profiles for third and fourth year declared majors in eight dif-
ferent departments at ACAD. The assignment began with a guest lecture by Yvonne Brouwers, president & CEO of Illumina Research Partners here in Calgary. She presented a general overview of market research and then shared a case study done for Great Western Breweries for their beer brand, Original 16 (yes, we had samples; the instructor knows his market and remember, it’s Friday afternoon!). Once permission had been granted by administration and department heads, I was able to set the students to their task. Each team of four to six students was assigned a major and equipped with preliminary demographics. The registrar’s office, notably Aileen Lublinkhof, was very helpful and provided anonymous age, gender, geographic, educational and financial data by major to get the students going. Armed with just enough information to be dangerous, off they went – across the great divide. What was learned about the ‘divide’ between the north side of ACAD and the rest, between Fine Art, Craft and VCD may have been one of the best outcomes of our study. Both in my dealings with department heads and the students’ interaction with their opposite numbers,
there was a very welcoming vibe; there was curiosity about what was behind these questions, but little standoffishness. I was told by one department head that any initiative to “bridge the gap” was not only welcome but overdue. My students were surprised and delighted to discover mutual interests and concerns as they met students from ‘over there’ (specifically Ceramics, Drawing, Fibre, Glass, MADT, Painting, Print Media and Sculpture). The project involved: choosing a technique (interview, focus group, survey etc.), developing a questionnaire, chasing down respondents, learning about each major, doing the actual research, compiling and interpreting findings and formulating a report. The reports were submitted and accompanied by very energetic presentations where the entire class (along with a couple of curious department heads) had the chance to see what the other groups had discovered. The assignment was worth 25% of the final semester mark. The average project mark was 89%.
What Was Discovered? When public opinion polls are published, they have a disclaimer that touts statistical accuracy to within a range of percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Here’s my disclaimer: THESE ARE NOT PROFESSIONAL MARKET RESEARCHERS! Overall, the project was designed to give the students a taste for market research and exposure to the practice of getting to know a particular market segment. On that score, it succeeded wonderfully; as for the findings, they are interesting but represent a snapshot at best of a fraction of the respective majors’ third and fourth year students in February and March 2012. Here are some highlights of the findings, offered for information and amusement. Let the interpretation begin: Fibre had the biggest gender imbalance of majors studied with 29 females and one male, sculpture had exactly two females to every male whereas MADT had a perfect balance with an 18/18 split; One glass student confessed to feeling “naked” without a cell phone yet 57% of glass students wouldn’t bother to go home to get their phone if they discovered they had left it behind;
Ceramics students are the best ones to recommend hand lotion; they were described as “down to earth” (ha- ha) and honest (88% would return a lost wallet with $50 cash inside if they found it); Sculpture majors reported very strong support from their respective families and social networks (only 2 of 27 have student loans); 92% of MADT respondents agreed with the phrase “procrastination is equal to decompression” and one respondent didn’t answer this question (presumably he or she will answer eventually); 86% of glass majors surveyed owned a car; Most Fibre students were initially drawn to painting or photography and a third of them don’t consume caffeine! Drawing students can’t get enough pasta and sushi and they pay with plastic … they can’t get enough education either: 90% of those surveyed plan to continue arts education after ACAD; Despite the popularity of funny cat videos on the internet, Painting majors overwhelmingly preferred dogs (70%30%); Most Print Media majors surveyed have European heritage, favour Tim
Horton’s over Starbucks (70%-20%) and would rather shop on 17th Avenue than either a mall or downtown; No vegetarians were identified among Sculpture students surveyed; In 2011/2012, all Fibre, Print Media and Sculpture majors came from British Columbia, Alberta or Saskatchewan. And so … In practice, these data would be rigourously analyzed, conclusions drawn, marketing plans made, sales targets established, ad campaigns developed and so on. In our case, we had no plans to market anything to these various segments. It was just to get to know them in a somewhat formal way. Another directive in the assignment was to have some fun along the way. Questions about personal hygiene, desirable super hero traits, defensive strategies in case of a zombie apocalypse and squeamishness at the sight of blood showed that our researchers did have some fun. Respondents did too: some painting majors answered questions with drawings (appropriate for an art school but would drive a statistician nuts!). The fun lightened proceedings and maybe 21
helped the research subjects see VCD students as not all that buttoned-down. The presentations, with mock dating games, yarn bombs festooning the classroom, composite students and all kinds of interactive hilarity confirmed the fun aspect. I believe the students gained a sense of the importance of market research (and how much work it is), about stereotypes and how assumptions often turn out to be false. To boot, they learned about their fellow students in various majors throughout the school. I am very proud of the efforts of the students and plan to send a fresh batch across the mall again in Winter 2013.
Between One and Another/ Entre Lâ€™Une et Lâ€™Autre Report from the field by Mireille Perron, Liberal Studies
Sweeping Changes: Opening Performance, Mireille escorting the participants/viewers to specific locations in the courtyard
i w a s t h e a u t h o r (English and French) of the main essay for the catalogue for Calgary artist Sandra Vida, and Irish artist Pauline Cummins, for their exhibition titled Between one and Another. As a consequence, the Centre Culturel Irlandais (CCI) in Paris, where the exhibition was held invited me (May 8 to 14th.) My activities included being on the panel for the feminist Colloquium titled Sweeping Changes, as part of the events organized for the exhibition, as well as to assist during the opening performance by Sandra and Pauline, and more generally to act as a critic/interpreter during the opening and other University/College studentsâ€™ visits. Between one and Another: Sweeping Changes gathered key works selected from over 20 years of art production by these two established media artists who share a commitment to media arts as a vehicle for expression and have collaborated on many projects. Works in Between one and Another: Sweeping Changes focused on embodiment, using this modus operandi to
explore social and gender constructions, often through performative rituals. The vernissage was a real success, more than 100 persons attended. The exhibition was also on the circuit of Nuit Européenne des Musées (the cousin of Nuit Blanche.) An additional outcome, in the aftermath of the conference, was the gathering of women in front of the Panthéon, located at the end of the street du Collège des Irlandais, and Paris celebrated secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE ( “To the great men, the grateful homeland”) Only two women have been buried there Marie Curie and Sophie Berthelot. Orchestrated by Pauline Cummins, the performance simply consisted of holding a red rose and a sign saying “I would rather be caught dead/ Mieux vaut mourrir que d’être ici”. We had a lot of public attention under the suspicious but non-interfering presence of a gendarme. I sincerely thank Sandra Vida and Pauline Cummins for their invitation to write about their works, Calgary 2012 for sponsoring my airfare for this project as part of Sandra Vida’s larger application
I would rather be caught dead/ Mieux vaut mourrir que d’être ici, performance in front of the Panthéon.
for external diffusion, CCI for a discount on accommodation, and FPAC for contributing the remaining of the budget. 23
I donated two copies of the catalogue to ACAD library.
surrealist artLab: wake the dead 10:00am – 6:00pm, September 29, 2012 King Edward School
criticalCreative summary The surrealist artLab: wake the dead was one event of several taking place under the banner, “We Should Know Each Other,” on Saturday, September 29, 2012, in the newly presented Arts Hub and Incubator, residing in the entire historic (100 year old) King Edward School. “We Should Know Each Other” celebrated King Edward School’s opening as Art Hub’s primary site of operations and cites communities meeting communities as its primary goal. Art Hub’s mission is to connect people, place, and ideas to inspire creativity, community, collaboration, and change. The surrealist artLab: wake the dead supported the inaugural event by drawing attention to the “place” component of Art Hub’s mission (“to connect people, PLACE, and ideas”). It considered the school to be a corpse, of sorts, and used surrealistic* games in chance aesthetics to embrace, dissect, anatomize, explore and bring to life the materiality & aura of the historic King Edward building. Directed and massaged by ACAD instructors Chris Cran, Miruna Dragan, Chris Frey, and Tanya Rusnak, participants of the surrealist artLab did indeed “wake the dead”** and witnessed the sandstone lung breath once more. * surprise vt. . . . astonish; take, come upon unexpectedly; startle into action thus . . . emotion aroused by being taken unawares
surrealism n. movement in art and literature emphasizing expression of the unconscious surrender vt. hand over, give up – vi. yield; cease resistance; capitulate . . . ** waive vt. forgo; not to insist on – waiver n. (written statement of) this act
wake1 v. rouse from sleep; stir up – n. vigil; watch beside corpse . . . wake2 n. track or path left by anything that has passed, as track of turbulent water behind ship [or, perhaps, the smell of cinnamon left by me, the cinnamon peeler, on the body of my lover. Yes, an exquisite corpse indeed – snip, snip, slice, slice, stitch, stitch – touched by metaphor “as if wounded without the pleasure of a scar” (Ondaatje).] walk v. (cause, assist to) move, travel on foot at ordinary pace . . . 24
bibliOGraphy Collins Gem English Dictionary: Pocket Edition. London: Collins, 1985. Derrida, Jacques. “The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing” (1967). Contemporary Critical Theory. Ed. Dan Latimer. San Diego: Harcourt College P, 1988. Gadamer, Hans-Georg. “Schleiermacher, Hegel and the Hermeneutical Task (1960). Contemporary Critical Theory. Ed. Dan Latimer. San Diego: Harcourt College P, 1988. Márquez, Gabriel García. One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967). New York: Harper and Row, 1970. Ondaatje, Michael. “The Cinnamon Peeler.” Running in the Family. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1982. Rulfo, Juan. Pedro Páramo (1955). New York: Grove Press, 1994.
Ghosts in the Machine Gerry Kisil, Liberal Studies This essay—by ACAD Liberal Studies faculty Gerry Kisil on an installation co-created by MADT faculty Alan Dunning together with the University of Calgary’s Paul Woodrow, and Dr. Morley Hollenberg — originally appeared as one of a quartet of articles for the catalogue of the exhibition, Ghost in the Machine at Laboral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Gijon, Spain. It investigates some of the broader corporeal and sensorial issues implied by the installation. It is reproduced here with the permission of the author and artists.
T h e h u m a n b o d y has always been mediated, and over the past few decades that condition has been intensified. Amplified, fractured, channeled, prosthetized, and irritated, our sensorium is more mediated today than ever before. Yet, interestingly, it seems to bother us even less. The cyborg model of the 1980s and the virtual dreams of the 1990s have evolved into a twenty-first century “comfort zone,” in which the prosthetic and supplemental have become habitual. 26
Creating a body that is understood as both the focus of desire for new technology and the very limits of technology. Our overlapping senses form the threshold of that desire and those limits, and, increasingly, technology tests how far we are willing to go. Art constitutes a powerful stimulus and response to these bodily possibilities, allowing us to try on or practice concepts, experiences, and altered states. The consumer technologies I am writing about have a modernist history, a history that produced us as subjects and trained us to adapt to new levels of mediation. This modernism organized the body in particular ways to colonize and commodify various sensory and bodily functions, what Michel Foucault termed “technologies of the self.” The installation, Ghosts in the Machine, by Alan Dunning and Paul Woodrow, provides an important site for working out this dichotomy between virtuality and corporeality. Far from an imagined bodiless experience once celebrated as virtual reality, Ghosts in the Machine explores the ways by which the sensing body can now become technological in order to produce an amplified, connected, and expanded cor-
poreality. The artwork is centred around interrogating the physical and emotional aspects of our current engagements with technology. It looks at the subject making potential of segmented and manipulated sensory regimes. According to Dunning and Woodrow, our bodies do not allow us to escape from pervasive technological mediation – they are in fact mediating apparatus, without which we would have no knowledge of the world we occupy. These artists are working to surface the effects of technology by making the viewer question mediation even within their highly mediated environment. Ghosts in the Machine captures the aesthetic attitude that occurs in the use of everyday communication devices, where the modernist segregation of the senses is giving way to dramatic sensorial mixes and opportunities for intensified mediation – whether in the shopping mall or on the cell phone. Ghosts in the Machine is forensic as well as diagnostic. It examines the current mediated status of human consciousness, while also historicizing that present condition and delineating elements from our collective past. It views the culture of the technologized body from the inside, by means of the artists’ provocations of our
perceptions, yet it also gathers together the efforts of intellectuals to produce a reflective relationship to those mediated perceptions. In Ghosts in the Machine our yearnings for materiality, for things, for the concrete stuff of the physical world are located in the body’s negotiations with the virtual and the mediated, which are continuously being naturalized as the technological envelope in which we live. The twentieth-century’s modes of mediated segmentation were dedicated to individuation that required new forms of social behaviour. The development of the telephone, radio, television and “stereo” music reinforced an individualized culture. These were highly personalized technologies that isolated us and intensified our experiences of mediation. In their installation, Dunning and Woodrow rely on the brain’s adaptive capabilities, its capacity to navigate in literally disorienting circumstances in order to involve its audience. In effect they stretch visitor’s range of experiences and invite participation in the subjectivating effects of the technology they have employed and the environment they created. As was pointed out earlier, 27
technologies contribute to the segmenting of senses, disassembling a subject who is then re-assembled by discourses that can be verbal or visual. Intriguing theories on the evolving subject emerge in the work of many contemporary theorists, most notably Gilles Deleuze, who explores how subjects are organized for and by capitalism through modes of fragmentation that produce the self in need of bureaucratic reorganization. Deleuze explains that culture and art play an important role in containing and ordering this unformed body, and, equally, can play a role in releasing its utopian potential. The aesthetics of Ghosts in the Machine tends to exacerbate the disassociative potential of contemporary technology, but through our interactions with the technology we find potential in this prospect. Splitting, separating and disassociating in this case is no longer instrumentalized but proliferates and becomes an aesthetic in its own right. The installation while leaving its audience fractured or fragmented is not meant to produce a psychotic subject, but to make the subject available for reorganization in terms we as participants negotiate for ourselves. More and more often, the de-
sired aesthetic in the media arts seems to be one of multiplicity. Tethering ourselves to technology, as Sherry Turkle argues, gives us access to multiple selves. We can go anywhere, but we must stay tethered to the dispersed networks that sustains the fiction of our various identities. Ghosts in the Machine shows us that the organization of selves and sensory data has a lineage that goes beyond the domain of art. It interrogates the physical and emotional aspects of our current engagements with technologies. Aesthetic examples like this locate how
isolated bodies are interacting with technologies, and provide a site for observing these interactions. Thus the installation, while providing a context for the technohuman interface, also reflects on embodied experiences in an always increasing technologicalized world. Far from the imagined bodiless existence once celebrated as â€œvirtual reality,â€? this art explores the modes by which sensing bodies can now become technological to produce an amplified, connected, expanded but also renegotiated corporeality which produces a new sensorium. 28
Bibliography Balsamo, Anne. Technologies of the Gendered Body. Durham: Duke University Press, 1999. Deleuze, Gilles. Foucault. Translated and edited by Sean Hand. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1988. Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guatteri. AntiOedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Robert Hurley, Mark Stenn, and Helen R. Lane. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1983. Turkle, Sherry. The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.
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National Gallery of Canada acquires paintings Chris Cran, Painting
i n m y pa i n t i n g p r a c t i c e since the mid-nineties I have sought ways of making imagery without resorting to constructing images. I found parallels in the strategies of the surrealists who, in their use of frottage and decalcomania discovered that images could be produced almost magically. It was not the Freudian implications of these discoveries that held my attention however. I was interested in how some of these techniques produced something that appeared “photographic.” Over time I developed some mechanical techniques of applying and accumulating
paint that encouraged this appearance. At some point it occurred to me that if I created space in a painting, any incidence (of paint) that occurred within that space would automatically be conferred with a kind of “objecthood.” Over the next seven years, I developed this premise through my paintings. I considered exhibiting some of these works under the title “New Photography,” believing that if something appears to be photographic, it is. In other words, “photographic” is a code for reading work (as is “realist” “abstract,” etc.) and, even if an accidental illusion, it possesses many of the attributes of photography. I ultimately rejected the idea of calling them “New Photography” as I came to believe that the code is, in fact, purely visual. In the
last three years I have been working with these ideas using materials of a smaller scale and have found that the delicacy of this appearance of the “photographic” is much enhanced by an intimate viewing. The works recently acquired by the National Gallery of Canada were first exhibited in my show “Reading Room” at Trepanier Baer Gallery in November, 2011. They will be in an exhibition at the NGC entitled “Builders. Canadian Biennial, opening November 1, 2012. http://www.gallery.ca/builders/ http://www.calgaryherald.com/travel/ all/National+gallery+showcases+Canad ian+Builders+exhibition/7478361/story. html
Chris Cran Guest Host, 2011 31
Chris Cran The Space it Takes, 2011 32