May 19 - Jun 9, 2001

Mid Air

Tegan Smith, Ken Gregory and Andrea Polli

For a moment a thing exists between two states, suspended. Lifted off the ground, it defies gravity. Placed in an arbitrarily measured space, it shifts its scale. En route between its source and its destination, it moves on airwaves or is telepresent. Mid Air is an exhibition of sculptural works that draw our attention to air as a medium of sound and vision, and as an elemental life force.

Large Balloon, Average Human, Small Planet by Tegan Smith is a large blue balloon that visualizes the fragility of breath. Rhythmic suction pulls air in and out of the balloon-lung, suggesting that air not only fills space but also simultaneously marks time. In the work's title, the artist refers to three possible scales, including the satellite perspective that has informed our understanding of our place in the universe.

Ken Gregory's Fire Bell System is an audio installation that consists of twelve fire-alarm bells with their original ringers removed, suspended from the ceiling and played with soft motor-driven brush wheels. When a brush rubs the edge of the bell, the bell "shimmers," vibrating acoustically at a low volume. Infrared heat detectors installed in various places in the room monitor the movement of heat in the space. A computer activates the spinning of the brushes in response to these environmental changes. Over time, the computer switches the motors on and off in various combinations, creating a performance of layered bell vibrations radiating throughout the space.

In Gregory's piece 2 ton 2 bit, two small robotic creatures move jerkily up and down in a space located a small distance from the wall. Their invisible tether allows them to appear as if floating, but their rough movements remind us of the underlying effort required.

Gape by Andrea Polli is a digital media installation that employs eye-tracking software. The connection between the user and the projected other is based on manipulation of the direction of the user's gaze. Gape explores human visual experience in reference to the unfilled gap that makes adoration possible.

Smith has been involved with artist-run centres for the last six years. She worked on the program committee at AKA in Saskatoon, and participated in exhibitions and collaborative projects. As a graduate student in the MFA program at York University, Smith started working with kinetic sculpture and video installation to explore ways of making breathing and the air more manifest.

Gregory is an artist from Winnipeg who specializes in kinetic sculpture, performance and audio art. He has performed and exhibited extensively throughout Canada and internationally, at such places as the Banff Centre, Western Front, Plug-In Gallery, Muu Media Arts Festival and ISEA.

Polli is a digital media installation and performance artist who lives in Chicago. She is currently Assistant Professor of Computing at Columbia College Chicago and an adjunct faculty member of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Polli has presented her performance work with eye- and motion-tracking devices in France, Brazil, the UK and throughout the US. Her artistic use of these devices is documented in the article "Active Vision" in the October 1999 issue of Leonardo.

Presented in collaboration with the 2001 Subtle Technologies festival.

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