by Johnson Ngo
A friendly and well-intentioned coffee hangout with Lisa Visser was co-opted by my interest and curiosity about as if you still see it in front of you. Lisa curated this emerging student-artist exhibition, which is a co-presentation between XPACE and Images Festival.
She wore a button shouting â€œART KILLS MEâ€:Â an ironic declaration from a woman who considers herself primarily an artist. Combining a desire to learn more about other artistsâ€™ practices and to create opportunity for these artists to develop their practice, Lisa hopes to inspire critical dialogue, with a sense of community, in her curatorial projects.
as if you still see it in front of you questions what â€œmedia artâ€ means through the exploration of technology as â€œthe medium of connectionâ€. Logan MacDonald, Andrew McGill, Carolyn Armstrong, Francisco-Fernando Granados, Takin Aghdashloo, Rita Camacho Lomeli, and Faye Mullen â€œinvestigate what it means to be connectedâ€“and how connections can fail, become aggravated, or emphasizedâ€“when the presence of the self is inserted or deliberately absent,â€ writes Lisa.
State of Mind, Logan MacDonald, animation, 2010
Inspired by the ambiguity of the term â€œmedia art,â€ Lisa begins by discussing the various meanings of â€œmediaâ€, as in the plural of medium, the in between of two extremes i.e.: small, medium, large, and also a person who has psychic, supernatural powers. She attempts to unpack and challenge the understanding of this loaded term through as if you still see it in front of you.
Lisa admitted, â€œWhen I walk into an exhibition, I am sometimes more interested in finding the wires and hidden technology to understand how the project works, rather than looking at the work itself.â€ Some of the works in as if you still see it in front of you, such as Aghdashlooâ€™s Tweet Arena, hide and also suggest the technology’s inherent qualities and potentials for failure. By drawing information from social media tools, two TVs on wheels literally race one another, juxtaposing and measuring politics versus popular culture.
Even with the emphasis of technology and connectivityâ€“what one thinks about when looking at media artâ€“I was more interested in the performative element suggested in the artworks of the exhibition. The works of Camacho Lomeli, Mullen, and Granados engage the viewer through the use of performance for video that draws connections through song and Skype, physical spaces and site-specificity, and cyberspace in chatrooms.
More specifically Camacho Lomeliâ€™s Somewhere in Between and Granadosâ€™ I wanted to Be Sure to Reach You – after Frank Oâ€™Hara both reference the Internet as a means to maintain connections via Skype or desperately seek one in a gay chatroom. There is a contrasting sense of hope and hopelessness in these two works, which is punctuated by Armstrongâ€™s two-channel video titled Never Having You. Two entities engage in a depressing, never-ending dance, yearning to connect but nevertheless failing.
While MacDonaldâ€™s State of Mind uses hypnotic imagery and a disembodied voice to acknowledge and command the viewer; engaging the viewer to become performer within the work. Instructions to love art and purchase an artwork at an auction cleverly pokes fun at the institution. Meanwhile, McGill employs a motion detector in REAL LIFE, relying on the viewer to activate the work itself. Aggressively confronted to contemplate sex, death, murder, and life, the viewer is assaulted by flashing incandescent lightbulbs.
Lisa Visser is an artist and curator living in Toronto, and is currently in the Interdisciplinary Â Master’s of Art, Media and Design (MA ’11) at OCAD University. Visserâ€™s practice is performative, drawing influence and inspiration from art and craft to produce video, photographs, bookworks and more.
Lisa Visser thanks Derek Liddington and Jennie Suddick of XPACE who were both helpful and amazing to work with– and of course, all participating artists for their graciousness and positive energy. And lastly, to Pablo de Ocampo of Images Festival for this great opportunity.
as if you still see it in front of you
18 March-09 April 2011
XPACE (58 Ossington Avenue)
Curatorâ€™s Tour: Saturday, 02 AprilÂ 2011, 1pm
Closing Reception: Saturday, 02 AprilÂ 2011 from 2-5pm