Micah Lexier is a Toronto-based multimedia artist whose practice includes sculpture, installation, photography and text-based work, as well as curation. Particularly interested in expressions of time passing and age, Lexier’s work often has numerical themes. His piece David: Then and Now (2005) is a rework of his Portrait of David (2004), over a span of 10 years and showing the effects of aging on 75 men named David, each a different age from one to 75.
Over the weekend, I was able to visit Micah Lexier’s More Than Two (Let It Make Itself) exhibit. More Than Two is a curatorial project that displays over 200 new and recently created artworks and objects by 101 artists in and around Toronto. The exhibit also presents work by Lexier and brings together an important selection of recent work that reflects the artist’s diverse and dynamic practice. The objective for More Than Two is to provide a mirror of Toronto’s art scene that leads, if not to the desired definition, then at least to a recognition of its absence. Whether working individually (One), in a collaborative process (Two), or encompassing more than one hundred different artists (More than Two), Lexier’s work evinces witty and playful reflections on the creative processes of making and presenting art. Encompassing artists at varying stages of their careers, Lexier presents his take on the wide-ranging, multi-generational portrait of a robust Toronto art community.
At the exhibit, Lexier presents a new video installation entitled This One, That One, at the exhibit. This video installation explores the concepts of collecting and ordering seen that run throughout the exhibition. On the 2nd of April this year, Micah also designed an installation for Louis Vuitton at the new Bloor Street Maison. This installation included eight lightboxes that presented items from his vast archive of found objects. Lexier’s installation artworks have been constructed in exhibition spaces such as museums and galleries, as well as public and private spaces. Many installations are site-specific in that they are designed to exist only in the space for which they were created.
One features personal projects such as Self-Portrait as a Wall Text (1998/2013), which is a self-descriptive artwork that Lexier originally produced at the age of thirty-seven. Lexier pairs this with an updated version made specifically for The Power Plant, where both works are presented for the first time. The north gallery is themed around Two, which are Lexier’s collaborations with writers. One piece that caught my eye was 1334 Words for 1334 Students (2008), a project Lexier made with writer Colm Tóibín who wrote a short story as many words long as there were students in Mississauga’s Cawthra Park Secondary School.
Lexier’s More Than Two (Let It Make Itself) encompasses artists at varying stages of their careers. He presents his take on the wide-ranging Toronto art community. In seeking to celebrate this expansive community, Lexier brings to The Power Plant an incisive look at the networks of creative production that surround it. More Than Two is in constant dialogue with Lexier’s whole exhibition, enabling audiences to see and experience the artist’s multi-faceted practice. One, and Two, and More Than Two is a vibrant portrait of not only an artist but of his practice as well as his diverse community.
The exhibit is held at 231 Queens Quay West, Toronto and will open until the 5th of January. Admission to the exhibit is free so if you have time between now and then, I highly suggest you go take a look! Click here for more information about Michah Lexier’s One, and Two, and More Than Two exhibit.
Take a look at Michah Lexier’s Tumblr where he posts some images of his work.
In the late nineties and during the first decade of this century the term “new media art” became the established label for that broad range of artistic practices that includes works that are created, or in some way deal with, new media technologies. The birth of new media is closely tied to the democratization of computers. Nevertheless new media art does not appear as a set of homogeneous practices, but as a complex field converging around three main elements: 1) the art system, 2) scientific and industrial research, and 3) political-cultural media activism.
One area being explored by new media artists is the interaction and collaboration between art and science; using art to give a new perspective on scientific endeavours, as well as using scientific developments to discover new media for producing works of art.
In the project “Biomorph”, a selection of artists, architects and writers were invited to contribute work that dealt with biological, botanical and morphogenetic ideas and processes. This group of people created a variety of pieces that focus on the interaction and collaboration between art and science. One example piece is the Biothing. This project was directed by Alisa Andrasek with Design+Computation Probotics student team: Knut Brunier, Diego Rossel, Jose Sanchez and Anica Taneja . The project requires the contribution of Agentware, defined by the process known as Emergence. Emergent behaviour occurs where autonomous agents interact at a micro level within a large ecosystem to create macro behaviours independent of local exchanges. Non deterministic orderings, reminiscent of bacterial growth and basic plant formations arise from resultant self-organising systems. Agentware relies on simple interactions of its population to create complex architectural schematics. It’s notable that Biothing uses the term DNA to denote information stored and shared between individual agents.
EcoArtTech is a collaboration that explores technology and environmentally focused work with other artists and organizations. EcoArtTech consists of new media art duo Leila Nadir and Cary Peppermint. Both members study the environmental imagination – from nature and built spaces to the mobile landscape and electronic environments – in the afterglow of modernization. Merging their diverse skills and disciplinary training, Leila and Cary’s projects explore senses of place in industrialized, digitized, and urbanized culture, merging old with new: biological systems, primitive technologies, ancient meditation practices, nineteenth-century narratives about nature, theories of modernity, and new media technologies. The IH+ app is their latest project and utilizes Google Maps to create task-oriented paths. When we look at the physical makeup of urban areas, it’s obvious that we’ve transformed a natural wilderness into a modern forest of steel and concrete. The truth is we’re still surrounded by nature in the middle of the city, but our lives are simply too fast and our attention too fractured to notice it. The IH+ app is designed to slow us down and simply make us more aware of our surroundings.
Another example of merging new media arts and science is C-LAB. C-LAB is an arts collective and a small organisation that engages with critical and contemporary amalgamations of art and science. London-based artists, Howard Boland and Laura Cinti focus on artistic explorations of meaning and idiosyncrasies involving life both organic and synthetic.
One piece they did was Transient Images. It uses sewage bacteria and Shewanella capable of degrading textile dyes to form images. They were interested in seeing how the two cultures were converting the dye into a milky solution during anaerobic growth and further how adding oxygen at the end of this reaction could produce a blue-grey colour. The image changes from a dye colour, orange, to a clear solution and further to a blue colour when oxidized. A matrix of bottles with increasing amount of inoculum (bacteria culture) was used to generate an image during breakdown, appearing and then disappearing. It is this transient state of image formation that gives the work its name.
Science and the market present new tools and platforms for artists and designers. They learn how to sort through new emerging technological platforms and place them in a larger context of sensation, communication, production, and consumption. Technology is changing how we express ourselves, entertain, learn and connect with the world—and employers have taken notice.
In principal, AV installations mean taking a large interior and loading it with disparate items that evoke complex and multiple associations and thoughts, longings, and moods. It’s a huge three-dimensional painting, sculpture, poem, and prose work. Ana Carvalho in VJ Theory defines the term visual performer in broad terms, describes practitioners working in live cinema, interactive installations, gallery performances, guerilla interventions and club performances. This itself is a very loose description that blankets various aspects as AV performance has different entry points.
Installation art can be either temporary or permanent. Installation artworks have been constructed in exhibition spaces such as museums and galleries, as well as public and private spaces. The genre incorporates a broad range of everyday and natural materials, which are often chosen for their “evocative” qualities, as well as new media such as video, sound, performance, immersive virtual reality and the Internet. Many installations are site-specific in that they are designed to exist only in the space for which they were created.
There are two characteristics of AV performance – hybrid nature and hands on approach. Hybrid nature can be found in many ways from the professional background to the ways technologies are mixed. Everything at hand is used – space, lighting, music, objects, cameras – to transform the stage into a cinematic instrument and have every performance unfold as a unique piece. Hands on approach means performing in real time, using a diversity of technologies, either developed on their own or adapting existing ones.
The conversation between media artists Cory Archangel and Dara Birnbaum really intrigued me as they bring up the topic of context versus content. How does the use of space in different contexts affect how we interpret or interact with the content? Dara’s believes that every work of hers can be inserted into different contexts, therefore the change of context would be more interesting that the change of content and the effect this has on the content itself. The article can be found here.
In one of the readings, a group called Transforma who are undergraduates in art, design and experimental media design, concluded that working with a video camera was more productive than working with a digital software after they experimented with other forms of media. By using a video camera, they were able to incorporate a cinematic process involving lights, props, costumes and masks. Rather than having to manipulate things in a digital environment, they work with things in the physical environment. They work with real-time images, showing the process of things are made. This process is much more easier to define and allows them to have better control over what they are doing, giving the artist the freedom to manipulate the art to suit the different locations and spaces chosen to present the installation. This reading can be found here.
While looking at different examples of AV Performances, I came across artist Kristen Anchor. Kristen Anchor is an audio-visual artist, a curator, and a musician. Her work ranges from audio-visual performances and installations to printmaking and design. Many of her work has screened at film festivals, events, and galleries throughout the U.S. One AV performance piece that really stood out to me was Facts about Cats, a video and live music all about cats. Kristen basically takes viral videos of cats on the Internet and complies them into one video while a live band plays music. The project has a hands-on element, as the performers play music to accompany the video that is playing, allowing the audience to see the different components that make up the art piece on stage.
Another piece that stood out to me was Moment Factory’s Union Station Christmas Tree. During Christmas in 2011, passers-by in Toronto’s Union Station was able to experience the holiday’s season magic come to life with the appearance of a giant tree in the middle of the train station. Moment Factory created a 30-foot interactive Christmas tree whose decorations lit up when a Christmas message was shared online. When the Christmas spirit reached its peak, the tree would take on its brightest glow. Visitors on the website can also interact with the tree triggering a spiral of blue lights and watch the effect live via webcam by visiting http://christmasspirittree.ca/. The Web searched for messages, articles, blog posts and other content containing Christmas-related keywords. Then the information gathered would be sent to the tree for visualization. The use of space for this piece was very clever. Union Station is a major commuter railway station and the central-inter-city transportation facility in Toronto. By placing the tree in the middle of Union Station, many passers-by would have seen the tree, essentially allowing the tree to send the messages directly to the person even though the entire process has been online. It connects the real world with the virtual world. The project has a hybrid nature, where the technologies are mixed, combined and crossed. You can view the project here.
Test Pattern by Ryoji Ikeda was also a piece that I enjoyed. Ikeda is a Japanese visual artist. His work is very hands on, almost like live-coding, allowing the audience to see the technology and the performers on stage. The behind the scenes work is brought to the stage, giving the viewers a sense of how the performance was put together. Ikeda describes Test Pattern as a system that converts any type of data –text, photos, music – into barcode patterns and binary patterns of 1s and 0s, examining the relationship between critical points of device performance and the threshold of human perception. This installation has been presented at different places, which I thought was interesting to see how various spaces were use to suit the same content. To make sure the viewers are fully immersed in the work, the piece is projected onto walls and floors, essentially making the viewers a part of the image. You can view this piece here.
Installation artworks have been constructed in exhibition spaces such as museums and galleries, as well as public and private spaces. The genre incorporates a broad range of everyday and natural materials. AV Performances and installations are not bound to a context but are integrated into various parts of life. They combine many different digital forms with human interaction, allowing the interaction between the art and the audience more relate-able.
List of all the links in this blog post: