Page 1

Art Critique:!

! ! !

The Sky Is Also a Map! Curated by Marissa Neave

Type | New Media/Exhibition


Curator | Marissa Neave

 Artists | Anna Eyler, Stephen McLeod !

Location | InterAccess, Toronto

Date | September 28th, 2016

! ! In “Capturing The Feeling of a Place”, an introductory essay by curator Marissa Neave, the concept of our virtual and material selves is considered, Neave notes John Durham Peter’s book entitled The Marvelous Clouds: toward a philosophy of elemental media (2015) as inspiration for The Sky Is Also a Map, a book that investigates, philosophically and theoretically the idea of media as environments and our environments as media. Neave writes, The Sky Is Also a Map features (...) works that consider media as the vessels through which our relationships and identities are formed and conveyed. In myriad ways these works alternately reveal or conceal the networks that exist between the desires, ambitions, idealisms, and failures of our material and virtual lives (whether or not we consider them distinct). Musing on structure, pattern, and abstraction, The Sky Is Also a Map navigates the infrastructure that so governs our world. To be more specific, only the moving image/video works from the exhibition will be discussed. Composed of one interactive video sculpture, one non-interactive video piece, one installation piece and two prints, the artists of The Sky Is Also a Map make use of physical and virtual space to a degree that positions the viewer as a user, and makes them question their place with the work.

In Everything in The Thingiverse, an interactive video sculpture by Stephen McLeod, the endless database of downloadable 3D models from fall from a virtually generated sky onto a blank plane that goes on indefinitely. The objects fall on top of each other and eventually create a mountain of randomly sourced 3D forms. The falling items are fascinating in that, although they seem to be confined within the frame, these images could be downloaded, printed and held in one’s hands.! The work relates to the interview in which Katherine Hayles discusses the technogenesis our species finds itself in, Hayles' hypothesis is that, “We cannot draw a clear ontological distinction between human beings and their technical surroundings.� She goes on to explain how the boundaries between human, animal, machine and object are no longer boundaries and our concern is not with prevention of, but now but the direction our relationship with these technical surroundings is going. McLeod emphasizes this interpersonal, metaphysical relationship by creating a piece of work that exists in both virtual and material form, tangible and intangible, limitlessly and finitely, merging and stimulating the infrastructures we have inherited and those

How To Live Forever (Trimming the Myrtle-bush) is Anna Eyler’s series of virtual vignettes that test life as a game and self as character. Neave writes, “these forms (...) speak to the psychic and spiritual limits that emerge in spaces that appear to promise limitlessness.” Post-humanistic, How To Live Forever involves human movement and sentiment embodied in 3D shapes and 2D environments, the piece proves the abstraction of the human body does not interfere with the vulnerability and anthropomorphic traits displayed in digitally cultivated environments and subjects. Instead, it enhances and fulfills the undefinable gaps we find in the our virtual and material identities. How To Live Forever encourages the quintessential question of “what makes us human” to be reconsidered and reconfigured.

Both McLeod’s and Eyler’s work challenge and redefine the classical notions of cinema and video. Virtually constructed and directed, new worlds are being digitally created in order to perhaps, better understand our physical world, self and their byproducts. Tackling issues such as collective identity, mass customization, accessibility and information, reveals our current states of mind and behaviours. How we learn to act, react and interact with our ever growing virtual environments and how we balance it with our natural environments. In his essay Renewing ethnographic film: is digital video changing the genre?, David Macdougall makes a point about the widening perspective of video/visual anthropology, Digital video reduces the need for large-scale institutional funding and offers the freedom to explore a variety of approaches to visual anthropology. (...)Video is not simply a replacement for film but a medium with its own capabilities and limitations.I have benefited from the new technology myself, after an initial reluctance to adopt it. Has it changed the way I work? In many ways it has, although the lessons I learnt using film still underpin what I do.! Even in the new media/moving image works, cinema continues to be the common denominator and strongest reference. The cultural impact moving images have, digitally generated or otherwise, will continue to shape our modes of understanding and interacting with our current environments and ourselves.


! McLeod, Stephen (2016) Everything in the Thingiverse. Interactive video sculpture. Shown at The Sky Is Also a Map Exhibition at Inter/Access Toronto


Eyler, Anna (2016) How to Live Forever (Trimming the Myrtle-bush). Digital vignette video. Shown at The Sky Is Also a Map Exhibition at Inter/Access Toronto Macdougall, David. "Renewing Ethnographic Film: Is Digital Video Changing the Genre?" Anthropology Today 17.3 (2001): 15-21. Web.! Neave, Marissa. "Capturing The Feeling of a Place.� 2016. Print.

Critique: The Sky Is Also a Map  
Critique: The Sky Is Also a Map  

Art critique done on a new media exhibit that showcased work with integrated technology and 3D systems.