Curated by Heather Corcoran and Erin Peck
At some point every person has unexpectedly discovered a link to another with whom he or she previously had no relationship, an experience that has come to be known as "six degrees of separation." There is a concrete cultural notion that we are somehow all connected, a kind of underlying network governing our communities and influencing our attachments.
Inspired by this phenomenon, (six) Degrees poses questions about the connections between six works by emerging artists, all recent post-secondary school graduates. Through concept, aesthetics, materials and motifs, the links between the different works form an intricate web of ideas and approaches. The overall effect of the exhibition is decidedly modular, tangential and sometimes elusive as the viewer participates in identifying one-to-one relationships between the works.
Six degrees of separation as a social theory is particularly relevant to emerging artists; for them, seeking out and forging connections with others is an important part of creative development and establishment in the arts community. These links both challenge and nurture artists, and for those just beginning their career, they are particularly critical.
However, the development of this kind of network is not limited to face-to-face interaction between human beings. Notions of interconnectivity and modularity that form the basis of the six degrees theory are also integral aspects of new media study. Here those notions provide the basis for the selection and arrangement of works that compose an assemblage of themes, forming new meanings while retaining their singular intent.
Science shows that the six degrees of separation theory is valid, yet our attempts to find the underlying pattern of these relationships can sometimes prove frustrating. While the connections might at times seem abstract, there is still comfort in knowing that we are all part of the process of connecting.
Lieues interrompues is database-driven video installation that plays with notions of voyeurism. Taking advantage of the feeling of anonymity in public or transit space, the viewers are given an unexpected look at another's life when their movements trigger virtual sliding doors, opening to reveal a randomly selected scene. The sense of voyeurism suddenly shifts when the character notices the viewer and starts to run towards the door as it begins to close. Inspired by commercially used motion detector doors, Lieues interrompues draws connections between technology and intrusion, referring to surveillance in an engaging, disarming and humorous way.
Light Surveillance is an interactive installation in which physical presence and relationships are reinterpreted as mediated organic phenomena. Drawing from the explanation of lightning as a gathering and redistribution of electrons, video imagery and audio representation of lightning are played in response to the level of sound in the room. What emerges is a connection between the social and the scientific, the inside and the outside. This meteorological behaviour also serves as a metaphor for surveillance, suggesting that both are based on a desire to disperse large groups. Critical and beautiful, Light Surveillance asks viewers to consider the effect of their actions.
The Aluminum Piece
Using metal, electronics and motors as delicate tools, The Aluminum Piece draws the viewer in with its sporadic, miniscule motion. The movement of each of the motors on the wall causes a slight shiver in the length of metal cable attached to it – a reflexive twitch that arrives at a random interval. The circuitry of the piece lies open, like an exposed nervous system, giving a sense of the organic to the technological form. Each motor moves autonomously in futile acts of exertion that work towards an invisible goal. The Aluminum Piece provides a disturbing sense of self-recognition in the viewer that questions the relationship between organic and technological, human and machine.
28,000 presents the jet trail as a representation of global networks. Similar to the World Wide Web in their emphemerality and temporality, jet trails are physical indicators of the intricate connections between people and places. In this work, jet trails are photographed and projected in the space, allowing the viewer to distort the forms by interrupting their projection, then compiling the new images into a database. The result is an eloquent observation about the jet trail as synthesis of technology, the environment and human intention, providing a reminder of the constant presence of a global network. Audio for 28,000 is by Steve Smith.
Rockets of Tomorrow
by Josh Raskin and Aaron Phelan
Rockets of Tomorrow is a work of performative cinema that explores how improvisation techniques can alter film aesthetics. The work bridges new media concepts of modularity and database structure with performance and film practice to alter the traditional narrative method. Using live music and video editing, Rockets of Tomorrow constructs a non-linear story in which the personalities of three eccentric main characters are revealed. Each presentation of the work offers a new perspective to the audience, with a constant ordering and reordering of digitized 8mm film clips. Rockets of Tomorrow is crucial not only for its contemporary form but its striking imagery and unusual narrative.
by James Mitchison
Moving Walls is a kinetic sculpture that explores the relationship between humans and technology, delving into the tensions that exist in our feelings for machines. Alluding to issues of security and imprisonment through both scale and use of materials, Moving Walls is a claustrophobic experience. Upon the viewer's engagement, massive steel doors suddenly begin to move along a track, caught in a seemingly endless cycle of closing. As the exact nature of the viewer's impact is unclear, the movement's origin becomes suspicious and then sinister. Simultaneously compelling and repelling, Moving Walls plays with the fear surrounding automatons and issues of machine control.