14 September to 11 November 2007
Curated by Emily Falvey
Alexandre Castonguay, William Eakin, Darsha Hewitt and Stéphanie Brodeur, Calum Stirling, Michael Waterman
Media Povera examines the relationship between new and old technologies in the work of six contemporary artists.
Referencing the famous Italian post-war art movement, Arte Povera (a term that literally means “poor art”), the exhibition aims to question the role of new technologies in contemporary artistic practice.
Alexandre Castonguay's installation Portapak (2003–2005) features a touchscreen monitor inset within a video camera travel case. Through it, viewers are invited to manipulate projected video footage of the two-hour train trip from Ottawa to Montreal. It thus revisits the linearity of early video art, while also embracing the exciting, multi-dimensional frontier of digital interactivity.
Using low-tech materials, such as sound-emitting toys, baby monitors, and other electronic components, Michael Waterman creates intricate, electromechanical sound networks. His installation Sound Circuit (2004) subverts the speed and invisibility of digital networks, exaggerating and slowing down mechanical processes to produce tactile, multi-directional soundscapes.
Calum Stirling's work Tectonic Plates (2003) takes the viewer on a microscopic journey down the grooves of a vinyl record. The resultant audio-video tracks evoke a sense of romantic and alien landscapes. This work plays cleverly on the shift from analog to digital technologies, a cultural upheaval implied through the metaphor of plate tectonics.
In response to our increasing dependence on personal electronic devices, such as iPods and Blackberries, Darsha Hewitt and Stéphanie Brodeur have created Personal Soundtrack Emitters (2006): twelve portable listening devices that promote awareness of one's environment. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to test these devices, manipulating and distorting the ambient sounds around them.
William Eakin's photo series, Ghost Month (2003–2004), depicts consumer electronics made from paper he collected on a visit to Taiwan. Originally produced to be burned as gifts to departed ancestors during the Chinese celebration of Ghost Month, Eakin appropriates these Buddhist objects and recontextualizes them within Western consumerism. He thus underlines the speed with which technology becomes obsolete in the digital era.