Our contemporary moment marks a growing interest in the multiplication of experience: geographies interlink and co-exist, subjectivities intertwine, points of view proliferate, and the demarcation between the real and the virtual is no longer clearly visible. now in STEREO! offers responses to this unsolidified moment, by showcasing experimentation in stereographic projection, illusionary sound and vision, and methods of co-location. The exhibition is an aspect of Interactive Futures ’09: Stereo, taking place from November 19-21 in Intersections Digital Studios at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, which explores these current tendencies as they are manifest in new media art and technologies.
The notion of “stereo” may be defined as a perceptual event that occurs by processing information from two symmetrical sources (2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 data presented here may attract the viewers with seductive elements of technology, thematic of stereo by engaging in deeper levels of phenomenological and the socio-political inquiry. The artists and students included in the exhibition have approached the thematic not only as sensible presence, but also as allegory, requiring political engagement: Anthony Zdansky subverts common uses of the stereographic print by depicting volunteers at the Carnegie Community Center in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver; Zack Marlow’s installation The Army and Its Public suggests a critique of militarism and its production as spectacle; Holly Schmidt and Dana Ramler’s collaborative project Bio Circuit is concerned with the interdependence of humans and the environment, and uses interactivity and sensible experience to extend awareness.
A glance at our current state of affairs also calls for an exploration of place, space, time, and travel. Paula Levine’s TheWall maps the security wall being built in Israel and the Palestine Territories onto selected U.S. and Canadian cities, thereby encouraging viewers to imagine their cities divided and reshaped. Miles Thorogood’s experimentation with spatial noise in Connoted Topography melds cultural forms by locating and overlapping sound and music from varying cultures to create an imaginary space of travel. The “here and now” is further complicated by Helgi Kristinsson’s interactive Sound Orb which transform our perception of the gallery space by replaying pre-recorded sounds of the gallery inside plaster balls, provoking contemplations on the “white cube”. We see this interrogation of the gallery’s status as a space of (re)presentation in Holly Schmidt’s co-locative piece Mycelial Interactions, where the artist cultivates mushrooms in her studio, a process that can be watched via live webcam feed in the gallery. The playful opportunities provided by co-location is taken in by Tangible Interaction’s Graffiti Share, offering a pleasurable interactive experience in the gallery space using a projection screen on which to draw digital graffiti that incorporates drawing occurring on a twin screen inside the conference space of IF’09: Stereo. Diana Burgoyne and Raewyn Turner’s collaboration in Re/Sense #2, installed in the Abraham J. Rogatnick Media Gallery, takes a similar approach in its playfulness, investigating the phenomenological reception of the colour green through sight, sound and smell.
A major thread running through now in STEREO! is a preoccupation with forms of popular culture and simulation. Julie Andreyev’s large scale installation Stereoscope focuses on virtual technologies developed for video arcades and draws links to the origins of such technologies, thereby revealing cultural constructions of vision. The simulation modes that Andreyev interrogates is by and large a product of photography and cinema, and likewise Joshua Grafstein’s candid shots as anagylphs lay bare how the female look is produced through simulation. These are critiques of subtle every-day cultural forms that we are accustomed to; whereas we can see extremes of simulation in Morgan Rauscher’s The Looking Glassez which pushes the boundaries of immersive experience by engaging multiple bodily sensations, and Derek Ing’s Instru-mental which designates a guitar as an object of simulation without a player.
The works selected for now in STEREO! ,then, operate within a broad interpretation of stereo, raising questions in multiple areas of concern. Using the technologies we are endowed with, what kinds of subjectivities do we now take on, and what alternatives can we imagine? How is our perception of the world being transformed? How can we contribute to the ethics of the new global village? Hopefully, by asking such questions, the artists can generate dialogue around the directions we are heading in, rather than merely offering didactic illustrations of our contemporary moment.
- Erdem Tasdelen curator