Open Space presents Awakening Memory, an exhibition featuring new artworks by Sonny Assu, lessLIE, and Marianne Nicolson. The exhibition is curated by France Trépanier.
Awakening Memory has been designed through a collaborative process about remembering the role of art within Indigenous communities. It made use of a creative method for Indigenous people to engage with objects that ‘belong’ to them. In response to this process, each artist created new artworks, which are part of the exhibition.
Awakening Memory focuses on both customary and contemporary stories to explore the history, agency and value of an art object from Indigenous perspectives. The exhibition also considers the dynamic relationships between historical Indigenous cultural objects and contemporary Indigenous art practices.
JT: In my interview with Robert Adrian he mentions how the WorldPool Collaboration in 1977 was at a time when experiencing the fax medium back then was equivalent to experiencing "magic". I think it was Arthur C. Clarke who felt that any good science was "indistinguishable from magic". Do you feel that there is still "Magic" left in some of the newer technological experiences out there? Or in other words, do you see Telecommunications Media as having metaphysical properties?
JD: As I said a bit earlier, I am more cyberskeptical now, more reluctant to inscribe technological change with a spiritual dimension, though there are good books like 'techgnosis : myth, magic and mysticism in the age of information' (Erik Davis) that outline the links and terrain quite persuasively.
In my own work I'm very interested in human/animal interaction, and the possibilities for developing more interfaces for non-human users. But, I think this has more to do with conditions of communication and embodiment than with magic. For humans and non-humans labour under the same conditions, and are instrumentalized economically in the same ways - reinscribing the inequities of the flesh (including race, geographic location) to the so-called disembodied conditions of cyberspace - embodied networks complicate 'mass' culture and its versions of magic. I am also interested in the psychological idea of the unconscious - a late 19th century development that coincides with the first moving pictures (often of animals). Persuasive links have been made between photography and our apprehensions of death (see, for example, Lippit - 'Electric Animal') and certainly these intersect with spiritualities of many stripes. I am working on a spectral cartography - a ghostscape, if you will - that imbricates human and fox bodies, my memories and archive - so I am interested in the possibility of shimmering time in layers of densities of opacities... This feels witchy but it comes from a representational impulse, rather than something that would transcend the body - or create 'life' from code formations. I am curious about what we find life-like in these discourses. I am too embedded in the flesh and local issues to ascribe 'magic' to technology or information carriers. if we view magic as a kind of liminal understanding - an apprehension of what we don't understand - it would be incorrect to locate magic in 'telecommunications media', for these are so authored, copyrighted, and built to construct us as consumers within existing power formations. Having said that, good science (scientists) and good art (artists) peel back the curtain on the philosophical puppet-masters (Descartes, for example) whose paradigms are 'the real glasses we wear' (Andy Patton). And when these are removed from our noses, it feels like magic.
JT: What is your opinion on the current state of telematic art and/or emailed art?
JD: It's weird, because even though I teach digital publication and am exposed to a lot of student projects, and engage in exchange with other artists and teachers, I still feel out of the loop in terms of what's happening now. I sometimes feel like we have to make it happen - to improve links and connections, project formations - to really know and produce these projects. One tendency I detect - my students are more concerned now with building talk-back and responsive interfaces than they were in the past. Here is a trajectory - from text-based nets, to graphical animation, to telecommunications structures and avatar-based interactions.
JT: What kind of future do you envision for telematic art and/or emailed art?
JD: More curatorial, educational and microcollectivity-based group projects. More flesh connections on the ground. More attempt to build flesh contact - more work on addressing flesh problems like hunger.
JT: Are you actively interested in the increasing trajectory towards video-game environments (avatars and bots) and software emulation as an art-form? Is there a place for this in the new Worldpool collaborations?
JD: I certainly am involved in creating environments. I notice my students are more into quiz-like structures than games. Avatars and bots must be fleshier. There is definitely a place for this in Worldpool, for Worldpool is about inclusiveness, about contact in the flesh and on working surfaces.
JT: Do you have any advice for online artists of today's generation?
JD: I worry that only 7% of the world's population has access to a telephone, or to clean drinking water. I would advise people to be countercultural, never to see this as a stepping stone, and to be alert to what goes in and out of your body, to what it does in a day. Note the bodies you consume, and those outside your window. Your next project is inside your refrigerator, or attached to it with a magnet. You needn't look far.
Judith Doyle is an artist working in film and media. In 1978 Doyle co-founded Rumour Publications with Fred Gaysek at 720 Queen West, Toronto. Titles include "Kathy Goes to Haiti" by Kathy Acker, and Worldpool, an organization of artists using telecommunications technologies such as slow-scan video transmission, proto-fax machines and early portable computers. She is an Associate Professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design (Integrated Media), and is currently doing graduate work in Interdisciplinary Studies at York University, where her focus is on urban wildlife and the representation of animals in new media.
Jeremy Turner is the current Digital Archivist working on contract at Open Space in Victoria, Canada. He is also an interdisciplinary artist, writer, composer and curator. He is a Co-Founder of the 536 Media Collective in Vancouver. In addition, he is a Co-Producer of the very first Machinima Documentary, "AVATARA". To date, he has conducted interviews and written articles about innovations in New Media for: C-Theory, Shift, Intelligent Agent, Extropy, Rhizome, Offbeat and Front Magazine. He is on the Board of Editors for the Digital Salvage Online Journal hosted by Trace Reddel at the University of Denver, Colorado.