Sep 19 - Nov 22, 2014

Mean Time To Upgrade

September 19 - November 22, 2014
Featuring works by: Phil Baljeu, Steve Daniels, Hannah Epstein, Dragan Espenschied, Nancy Paterson, Bill Perry

The average time a piece of technology is expected to function is its mean time to failure, a measure used by manufacturers to evaluate the reliability of devices based on expected use. Attempting to measure new media artworks in this way reveals the contingent nature of such averages - an artist will often use technology far outside of the way manufacturers intended, or the technology will transcend its status as an instrument by becoming valued as art.

Despite resisting standardizations of lifespan and use-value, no technologically based artwork is exempt from threats to their existence. As we continue adapting to the artificially shortened life spans prescribed on our media through planned obsolescence, and as the distance between upgrades become shorter and shorter, the deterministic marking of our machines, our artworks and ourselves seems to have become an inevitability.

This exhibition pauses on the moment before upgrade. It presents artworks created between 1982 and 2014, selected from a call for works in existential crisis due to impending obsolescence, and where a decision to upgrade would fundamentally change their meaning. Varying in media and subject, the individual plights of these works have raised interesting facts about their making, their materials or their issues. Each piece also resists easy separations of medium and content, challenging the notion of technological determinism while implicating the audience’s engagement along the way.

From the perspective of a non-collecting institution, we invite you to look closely with us at these works and ask whether their futures lie in inevitable upgrade, nostalgic commemoration or Duchampian disintegration.

About The Artists

Phil Baljeu (born Windsor, Ontario) is a Toronto based artist working primarily in video and audio. He uses obsolete technology and hand made devices (NTSC composite video, CRT televisions, and analog electronics) to produce surreal moving paintings and alien landscapes. Baljeu has exhibited works for Echoes of Place at the The Judith & Norman ALIX Art Gallery, performed at their Art's birthday celebration, as well as their 2012 Taboo Tour; the Sweet Magic London music and art series; and the IRQ music and art series. Ruin Electronics is Baljeu's electronic music project where he archives the analog, handmade electronic music instruments and effects he creates.

Steve Daniels uses electronics and communication technologies to create hardware agents, kinetic sculptures, ubiquitous spaces and networked events. His exhibition history includes Future Sonic (UK), thelivingeffect (Ottawa Art Gallery), Elektra (QC), and Subtle Technologies and Common Pulse in Toronto. Through his practice Daniels juxtaposes disparate knowledge systems and experiences in an effort to reveal their underlying structures and assumptions. His work was recently included in the MACHines show at the Centre des Arts, Enghien Les Bain in France and as a part of Eveil/Alive/Despertar at SESC Santana in Sao Paulo. He is an assistant professor and Director of the New Media program in the RTA School of Media, Ryerson University.

Hannah Epstein (AKA hanski) is a folk media artist working in the cross-section of experimental games and video art. Of mixed Latvian and Russian-Jewish heritage, Epstein draws on her liminal identity to drive a psychedelic and collage inspired aesthetic. As a trained folklorist, Epstein is critical of hierarchical power structures and aims to highlight the fringes of cultural practice. Recent exhibitions include Swoon Gallery in Halifax, Sight & Sound Media Festival in Montreal, the York Region Multi Media Film Festival at the Lebovic Centre in Stouffville, Ontario, and the Feminist Art Conference, the Long Winter Arcade, and Queer Arcade, all in Toronto. She is currently working on her MFA at Carnegie Mellon.

Dragan Espenschied is an 8-bit musician and media artist who lives and works in New York City. He focuses on the historization of Digital Culture from the perspective of computer users rather than hackers, developers or "inventors" and together with net art pioneer Olia Lialina has created a significant body of work concerned with how to represent and write a culture-centric history of the networked age. He started to develop software for Atari Computers in 1991 and studied communication design at the Merz Academy in Stuttgart, Germany. Espenscheid currently leads Rhizome's Digital Conservation program.

Nancy Paterson is a Toronto based artist and Associate Professor at OCAD University. Known for her interactive media installations, Paterson’s early works incorporated images and machines associated with domestic environments of the 1950s. Her explorations into interactivity in the 1980s were significant for women entering early new media art practice. Her article “Cyberfeminism” (1992) is considered a germinal paper and her inclusion in the 2007 exhibition ' Cyberfeminism Past Forward' in Vienna is evidence of her continuing importance to the field. Paterson’s background in interactive net-art and media art design led to a Ph.D in communications and academic research in protocols and policy.

Before he created the independent (paper) publishing company, Wm. Perry: Digital Text Services, Bill Perry electronically published Computerese: The Electronic Media Magazine in the early 1980s. He also started an artist access and training program called Telidon at Trinity Square Video, with Ric Amis.

Public Lecture with Rebecca Uchill
October 9, 2014 6:30PM
$10 Tickets available here
Complimentary refreshments provided

Visiting curator Rebecca Uchill lectures on the theme of intentionality as it pertains to preservation practices. Her talk follows historically shifting construction of new media and preservation approaches from photography and collective art practice to interactive audiences and beyond.


Image: Phil Baljeu, Kaila_04, 2014


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