Andrew O’Malley- Artist Statement

Andrew O’Malley is a technology driven artist, dj, and vj working out of Ontario, Canada. His use of algorithms, codes, LED lights and projection create interactive artworks that respond to audience, and real time data derived from various sources. He deals with time based pieces, and although he doesn’t self identify as a new media artist his practice shares a lot of characteristics with it.

I spoke with O’Malley in early December, 2016 and before then I was not familiar with his practice. Upon researching some of his themes and ideas I noticed there were some gaps within his online documentation. Keeping sites updated is difficult especially when platform popularity changes so rapidly. His site was of interest because it allowed me to access his works from earlier in his career and compare them to his more present practice. Like all artist there is growth and further exploration of certain themes. It conjured a couple of questions.

One of these questions was his approach to his artistic career in new media arts. It’s common for successful artist to study fine arts and discover the roots of their practice from a more traditional European approach like drawing and painting, at least that is my personal experience. O’Malley has always been drawn to creative practice but went to engineering school, where he learned to work with algorithms, code and other technologies. Like a typical creative mind he began to subvert these controllable technologies to make data driven art works.

A particular piece that I was drawn to is Sky Spectrum, 2011. It was shown as part of a group show, Phenomena, that showcased various different artistic approaches, and was not centered around new media art. The theme explored natural phenomenons including climate, geology and astrology. “The light patterns displayed by Sky Spectrum are directly related to the current sky conditions above Ottawa’s Peace Tower.  Every few minutes, the sky portion of the Hill Cam is analysed to reveal the average red, green, and blue components present in the sky.  The light fixture responds according to the various relationships between these values, presenting an altered view of the sky above, revealing colour details and relationships invisible to the naked eye.”1

Phenomena is a data driven, time based work. It also tracks the sky of a particular geographic place and a certain place in time. It is as though the audience that is controlling the data for the work is the sky. This work is tracking the land, listening to it and relaying it’s changes and patterns into a gallery. The use of LED lights mimics the colours and entrancement of the sky. If the sky was a body, then Sky Spectrum would be a glimpse of its subtle movements.

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Image source

A more recent work of his, Weather Channel ,plays off of similar riffs of weather communicating how the digital work will take form through data entry. In this work he also ties in audience interaction and reciprocity. “A simulated environment – a blue sky filled with cartoon clouds – is controlled by actual weather data, creating a meditative, shifting sky-scape; while audio oscillators linked to the visual elements score a generative soundtrack based on the weather, inviting visitors to sit and watch the clouds go by. A hidden sensor detects those who take the time to sit and enjoy the installation on the provided bench, rewarding these visitors with a vivid rainbow.”2

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Image Source

It was difficult to find information on his more recent work, that is where the interview gave me more insight. One question that I had for him, that was covered in the text Rethinking Curating  by Graham and Cook, was the process of documentation when it come to new media arts. It is difficult to document time-based works because the documentation could easily become something different from the work or alternatively the documentation could be bland photographs of light. Does time based work require time based documentation? Time also adds another layer to the difficulty of documentation. O’Malley documented his LED Christmas Trees that he has created for the holiday season by simply, or not so simply, recording himself sitting in front of them for the duration of their light cycle. It is a play off of a popular whisky advertisement, and becomes performative within itself. When does documentation become a new work within itself?  

Andrew O’Malley has worked with public installations, juries, and festivals. He mentioned that his work is not really complete until it is out with the audience. There are variables that he cannot control, but these interactions are where the artwork come to life. The importance of documentation is most crucial here because it shows the characteristics of the work beyond solely the aesthetics. Another point that was discussed in the text was the idea of process over product being important to many artist’s. When I asked O’Malley about this he responded that his practice was just as much about the product as the process. That they both work together to create the work. Which I find to be truthful.

O’Malley is continuing to work with in public spaces, with works being informed by and audience. He mention it was as if the work was observing the viewer over the viewer observing the art. I like this sentiment because it opens a new door to how an audience can interact and play a part with new media arts. A way to appreciate the work for the concept over the the flashing of lights, and tourism of codes.

Video of interview here.

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1Andrew O’Malley, ““Phenomena” @ CUBE Gallery, Feb. 1-27 2011,” ANDREW OMALLEY, February 8, 2011, , accessed December 08, 2016, http://technoetc.net/blog/2011/02/08/phenomena-cube-gallery-feb-1-27-2011/.
2O’Malley, Andrew. Post on facebook artist page. Digital image. Andrew O’Malley Projects | Facebook. Facebook, 01 Nov. 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.

Critical Journal- Ch.9

The term ‘lifelong learner’ is important for many different careers. This idea can benefit many such as educators, researchers, artists and curators. Lifelong learning is the idea of the continuation of learning at all points in life, especially beyond an institutional education setting. “…curators need to be learners if they are to rethink curating.”1 Rethinking curating to properly contextualize new characteristics is beneficial for other types of art movements beyond contemporary. With new media art showing work that is not centered around the end result, it is often difficult to show in a large gallery setting with programming waitlists.

New media art works with non-collecting galleries and through other means that can properly support the experimental and durational characteristics of the work. Other means in this sense include festivals, various hybrid platforms, broadcasting, public art and so on. Media art can have a presence at festivals without having a specific area for the work to reside. It can be static especially when connected to the audience.

An example of this would be the Lumipendent project at the Nuit Blanche Ottawa and Gatineau, 2013. Created by artist’s Darcy Whyte, Michael Grant and Mark Stephenson. The Lumipendent takes form as a firefly. These fireflies are programmed to interact with other fireflies that are worn by audience members of the festival, and are made out of recycled materials. “These playful Fireflies flow through various light sequences based on human contact and socialization patterns while engaging their audiences into discussion and exchange. From a vantage point the keepers of the fireflies will paint an array of light, data and human interaction into a new space.”2

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Screen shot from source

The Lumipendant project holds new media characteristics of connectivity and inclusion of data from the audience. This  lived well in a festival setting. The Nuit Blanche would be considered a hybrid platform, which means there was necessity to be curated in a differing way. They curator would be working with many networks which would allow every network to allure a different audience, therefore linking a larger network together. Because of these reasons holding space for a hybrid platform, such as a festival, is beneficial for new media art. Another benefit is time and money. Because the festivals have a shorter duration than an exhibition they are able to facilitate the work and gather volunteers and equipment with more ease. The curator does not need to facilitate the technological problems and possibility of burnout of volunteers for quite as long. In terms of the Lumnipendant project, the fireflies were made out of recycled material that was donated from a sponsor which makes the festival and project more affordable. It also is advantageous to the sponsor.

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1Graham, Beryl, and Sarah Cook.Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2010. 243. Print.

2“Lumipendant Firefly – Wearable, Hackable, Social Light Installation.” Lumipendant Firefly, Nuit Blanche Ottawa and Gatineau , http://www.lumipendant.com/#commission.

Critical Journal- ch.10

Collaboration in Curating is about curating and highlights a strong emphases on the position of a curator to there being barely any focused curatorial role. In other words, this chapter explores artist led and audience led curating and how this shift changes the way an exhibition takes form.

Institutional art galleries are white cubes that have a high budgets and set staff positions. Alternative spaces exist through artist run culture and iindependent organizations. Running an alternative space from an institutionalized gallery requires collaboration and communication.

Artist led ways of working deals a lot with connectivity which highlights new media because new media includes connectivity as a characteristic. Artist led & new media are a great team and fosters team working, simpler collaboration between parties, and more accessibility to production and distribution of new work. The questions of sustainability, access to resources (funding), and of time within volunteers all contribute to potential pitfalls within artist led culture.

Often artist’s become curators for practical and functional reasons. They find it necessary to represent emerging art activity that other organizations are not showing. They are able to control how projects are being contextualized and presented. Unfortunately artists taking over a space will not receive the same amount of engagement from the public as a more institutional setting. They are also susceptible to artist burnout, and contributing to gentrification. Gentrification is more common in large cities such as Vancouver as can be viewed in the Great Northern Way sector with the new building of Emily Carr and various other art galleries. More can be read, in a positive context, here.

Although artist led culture may put institutions in a taboo context, it is possible to self- institutionalize. “The artist-led models described in the first half of this chapter are based predominantly on a space or place, even if temporary. Self- institutionalization as a mode of practice within the field of new media art differs from self-institutionalization in the field of contemporary art in that the institutions that artist’s create for themselves are not always physically bound and the range of institutions they can emulate is so much more varied.”1

I found myself questioning if an artist led way of working could live online. If a self-institutionalized centre could live non physically so could an artist led centre. An example would be TRIBE INC., based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. They do have an online presence, although that is not the sole way they represent themselves. Their site states “As an artist-run-center focused on the presentation of contemporary Aboriginal art in a variety of institutional and public spaces. Tribe has developed a series of successful partnerships and collaborations with different organizations in Saskatchewan and beyond.”2 To physically show work, they partner with other organizations but their space lives online. Below is an example of how Tribe, in collaboration with AKA gallery,  is able to facilitate a space that would not be as readily utilized through a bigger institution. 

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Robert Houle, Palisade.1999 source

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1Graham, Beryl, and Sarah Cook.Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2010. 260. Print.

2 TRIBE. “Mandate « TRIBE Inc.” TRIBE Inc RSS, http://www.tribeinc.org/mandate/.

Critical Journal- chapter 8

Chapter eight allows new media art to live in the institutional art galleries. Within this home, there are many questions. Some are easily answered such as why would new media artist’s want to show in an art museum? Other include the communication and working procedures that go along with working across multiple departments. And of course, curatorial based questions such as the reasoning behind including new media arts in an exhibit, and how to properly show, collect and archive the new media works.

“…new media art crosses traditional boundaries of space, time, media, taxonomy, and disciplines1”. In the chapter, it is stated how large institutions are slow paced when it comes to including artworks that push the mold of the gallery setting. In terms of new media art, there are many shifts that need to take place within a gallery to properly accommodate this type of work. Having proper staff in the technical department, having curators that are able to understand the characteristics and complexities of the new mediums, and knowing how to properly contextualize the work are all crucial factors that take time. It is more common to see new media art live outside of gallery walls, and if they do reside in a gallery it is often at artist run centers. More often these galleries  have mandates that foster the experimental which is often communicated through video, performance, media, etc.

In the year of 2016 there are large institutions that are holding space for new media art and have the ability to contextualize, create online presence and catalogues for the work in a way that makes sense. Such example includes Mash up: The Birth of Modern Culture that was shown at the Vancouver Art Gallery during February 20th to May 15th, 2016. I am unaware of the VAG’s collection, and whether the show was exhibited mainly  from their collection, but it would not be a stretch to believe that the institution is collecting a base of media works that would include new media art. Mash Up comprised of thirty curators who worked collaboratively to assemble the show, which is a different from traditional curation.

The show consists of four floors that have differing themes, but each floor has components of new media arts that are explored, although the show does not centre around new media arts. The second floor titled Splicing, Sampling and the Street in the Age of Appropriation, has this to say in the description “Extending and reconfiguring earlier practices, artists in this third wave of mashup culture used mimicry and parody to question the nature of representation, expose the seductive power of images and destabilize dominant power structures. In addition, the increased availability of personal computers in the 1980s and improvements in digital graphics, sound and design programs spurred new approaches to art production, with Net Art presenting the computer as a distinct medium2”. The whole write up can be found here. Browsing the site is recommended as it goes into detail about what each floor holds, how the show was created through collaborators, and there is info about the publication.  

 

 

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Hito Steyerl’s installation. Liquidity Inc. (source)

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1Graham, Beryl, and Sarah Cook.Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2010. 194. Print.
2″Splicing, Sampling and the Street in the Age of Appropriation.” Vancouver Art Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.

Critical Journal- Ch.5

When holding conversation around participative systems, the language used during discussion is very important. Interaction, participation and collaboration are all different actions that have differing definitions but are often used interchangeably. The text outlines the definitions as such:

Interaction– “acting upon each other”. Interaction could occur between people or people and machines, etc. It shouldn’t be confused with reaction. Interactions have been linked to having a conversation, all parties are equally involved.

Participation–  “To have a share in or take part in”. Participants have a recorded input that changes the work. Often participation is framed inside of a system such as the system in Learning to Love you More by July & Fletcher which has a system posed as assignments.

Collaboration: “working jointly with”. This is equal work  and contributions between people to create something. Collaboration include both participation and interaction, but is different from each. Collaboration does not have to be exclusive between artists to create art.

From a curatorial standpoint, creating a space for participation takes on the role of a host in many cases and in some cases the role of a curator is unclear. “Also if the artist is acting as the host, then what role is there for the curator? If the curator is not curating an object but a ‘participative system’, then the invisible system itself needs to be thoroughly understood, not only by the curator, but also by the audience1”.  An example of work that showcases approach to participation, collaboration and interaction is the Candahar by Theo Smith and his works with various artist’s. The Candahar was held at the Mackenzie Art Gallery between April 30th and September 25th, 2016. During this time twenty three different hosts held the space and presented their own work ranging from discussion to performance. Although this work does not fall into the realms of new media art, it does hold discussion about curating and having art that is based on a participative system.

The Candahar is a Belfast based, fully functioning pub that is installed in a gallery settings. The work is based on holding space for performance and interaction between artist and audience, audience and audience, audience and concept, and so forth. The work also relies on participation from the audience because without participants there would be absence of people in the pub to experience and move the work forward. About his work, Sims states

…the installation as the setting for a social experiment aimed at issues of identity and breaking down stereotypes and assumptions, of all persuasions, by getting people to meet and talk to each other, in a stimulating, imaginative territory. ‘I wanted to break down the rules about what Irishness was,’Sims says. ‘But it’s not specific to an Irish agenda. It’s just a starting point to get something going. To me that’s the true spirit of collaboration.’2”.
Within the Candahar the question of the curator’s role is prevalent. Sim’s is creating the space to hold the work, but the curator is hosting the space in which the Candahar lives. Furthermore, they would be in charge of aiding performance nights run smoothly even though Sims has provided bartenders to work the space. I am unsure if Sims or the curator decide on the performers throughout the duration, or if that is a collaboration between artist and curator. Nevertheless, the curator is playing a different role as they traditionally would be. Similar to new media curation, it is crucial to understand the system that are at work to properly curate the work.

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Source (Screen shot of LeaderPost video)

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1 Graham, Beryl, and Sarah Cook.Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2010. 124. Print.
2 Tousley, Nancy. “Theo Sims: The Candahar Pub Returns to Calgary.” Canadian Art. Canadian Art, 16 Feb. 2012. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

Critical Journal -Ch. 3&4

Space, materiality and time- three very important terms to be aware of when curating, and making art. It is more difficult than one would think to define these terms because they are continuously in flux depending on a multitude of situations. The three terms take on a different meaning when paired with new media art. In my response to chapter three and four I would like to unpack each of these.

Space is important to an artist especially when creating something sculptural or physically interactive. It can transform a viewer’s relationship to the work. In terms of work shown in a gallery, space is something that can be physically experienced. This differs when the work has the ability to live beyond the physical world. As the text states “Art has long been concerned not just with geographic space, but with abstract space- its creation and exhibition- and by extension with the question of materiality. For new media art, these concerns go even farther into the realms of the virtual”1 . The text also refers to space as the place in which the work is shown, providing the minimalist movement as an example of disruption in space because many of the works  were creating to be viewed outside of gallery walls. Which rings true with new media, although not as intentional.

Materiality is another important factor within art. Many works are centered around the material that is being explored, therefore the materiality is a big factor when communicating with the audience. Work can deal with the materiality and/or the immateriality of a form. New Media does not root in either of these spaces because many new media pieces are interested in the process over the outcome. The collective, Noxious, created a work titled Remote Viewing which is rooted in exploring a concept through material, as oppose to the final product. As they state “ Focusing on the technology of the drones as agents of remote vision and interaction, we propose a meditation—part visual, part conceptual—on the status of vision, bodies and technology in the 21st century”2. The work is  comprised of three floating heads that lived in the gallery and live streamed the events of the gallery  which could be viewed anywhere that has internet connection. You can find the site here, but is unfortunately not connected as the work is not currently on display

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Source

Time is another important factor when it comes to art and can live in many different forms. Primarily, time holds importance within video and performance art, and has transformed throughout the histories of these practices. Many early video art pieces have a duration that is based on real time recordings which were unedited. Within performance and video there is a a duration, a fairly obvious end for the most part. With new media art, the end is undefined. Because there are many works that are based on data collection, they are continuously changing, and at what point is the work considered finished? This is a question that curators have in their minds when including these  works in shows. There are curators working within different spaces in order to facilitate new media works and provide the viewer with a ‘time stamp’. An example highlighted in the text would be Medialounge, the Media Centre which is a gallery that was set up in zones around the basis of the viewer spending an appropriate amount of time with the work.
Representing time, space and materiality in a new media context proves to be difficult within the constraints of a white wall or black box. Many curators and artists speak about this issues and how to work with it. In many ways you can curate within these provided space but  there are many alternate places that are being explored in order to properly epitomize new media art. Because space can be virtual, time can be perceived as never ending, and material can focus on process, it is hard to curate new media without the understanding of its characteristics and a designated space where it can best be showcased. 

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1Graham, Beryl, and Sarah Cook. “1.” Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2010. 51. Print.
2″Remote Viewing.” Canadian Art. Canadian Art, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2016.

Curate my thoughts

Imagine speaking with the landscape is a curatorial project that questions how one connects with their landscape and how this connection, whether positive or negative, informs how the landscape holds itself within various contexts. Within this curatorial question it is important to define what a landscape is, what qualities the land holds,what kind of connection is being created and between whom. Although that appears to be a lot to define, the questions are broad enough to evoke a multitude of situations and commentary to be explored.

The social issue that is being addressed is the treatment of the land. Whether or not it is positive or negative treatment, it make a difference on how the land holds itself. The theme, that of the importance of honouring the land, can be expressed in many different terms. These terms include:

Spirituality; speaking, visiting, the giving of gifts,

Living; how one takes part in cutting down their global footprint,

And Generational, how our present day choices affect future generations and their well being.

An example of current debate centering the land resides within the standing rock pipeline and what this means in a very economical way. There is importance in taking care of the land when taking care of the people. Those protesting the pipeline are interesting in honouring and taking care of their earth and water because they know that this is what they need in order to survive. The social issues around Standing Rock go beyond honouring the earth, but for the sake of the project, the focus will be on the aspects of the land.

In a curatorial sense the theme of land has the ability to evoke many different conversations, questions and narratives. Some ways in which the theme could be unpacked include the questioning of ‘What is a landscape?’ This could be urban, rural, and overall dependant on the individual. Land and resources could take the shape of knowledge being offered or could take on a material form such as forging plants or oil extraction.  What is a respectful way to source from the land, and at what point is it exploitation? In my art practice I believe in the land having it’s own spirit and this helps me connect with it, but this is not true for everyone. In which way do people connect with the land, if they do ,and what importance does this connection hold for both person and nature? This could hold influence in a personal, community or cultural  way, and within the world at large.

An example of an artist exploring this themes is Rebecca Belmore with her piece Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother where she responded to the 1990 Oka Crisis. In short, Oka was a protest on Mohawk land to maintain their territory. Belmore’s work was as a response in which she created an object that could be used to speak to the land in order to find aboriginal voice. It is a site specific work that was transported through many aboriginal communities both urban and rural. With this work the land is being addressed directly which gives embodiment to the place, and highlights the position of knowledge being held beyond humans.  

The reason why I would like to investigate the connection to land is because I agree with the characteristics of the work Speaking to Their Mothers. I once held a conversation with an elder named Gerry Ambers where I spoke to her about a camping trip I took to Port Renfrew, a beautiful place on Vancouver Island with ocean and forest. As she is from this area she spoke to me about the importance of speaking to the forest in that region. She said that the forest needed acknowledgment and she could feel the appreciation from the spirit of the land when she did so. This has been important to me in terms of understanding where I am in my connection to landscape. I wonder how much acknowledgment the prairie landscape receives, and hope that it is in good spirits. What I am trying to understand is how this landscape is operating and what my connection to this place is. I feel that the land works in tandem with human connection, therefore I want to understand better how I connect to place, and how others connect to this idea of speaking with the land. I am curious as to how these acts change in different regions and with different people. Thought this process I want to better experience land, connection, and understanding within various contexts.