An Honest Mimic
Rachael Archibald, David Bayus, Pieter Jossa, Sara Ludy, Kristel Saan, Hagihara Takuya
Co-Curated by Shauna Jean Doherty
Opening Thursday, July 14th. 7:00 — 10:00PM
July 15th — September 3rd, 2016
17 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC.
Visual simulations of human selfhood populate the online world. They conjure an anxiety brought upon by the unsettling yet subtle otherness characteristic of digital replications. The imperative to translate identity online hinges on a deep disjuncture between the realness of the organic world and the constructedness of the virtual. This unresolvable tension fuels the insatiable impulse to perform and present one’s self – digitally.
The alchemical otherness manifest in the digital replica applies to the hardware and software of new technologies themselves. Digital objects possess their own unsettling animism – they communicate, reproduce, and die. The intriguing aliveness of the very instruments used to represent the physical self contributes to a dynamic spectrum of vitality that oscillates between humans and machines. This is the paradigm through which artists navigate the productive dualities of the organic and synthetic, the real and virtual. For many the virtual is indeed an escape from the real, a haven that has become less accessible as the two domains collapse in on each other.
This is the phenomenon developed within this exhibition, that of the “digital uncanny” - the elusive border between the real of a human and the virtual of their avatar. A space initially described by Sigmund Freud psychoanalytically as “the boundary between fantasy and reality when a symbol takes on the full function and significance of what it symbolizes…”. The dividing line between the facsimile and its original has all but lost its significance in a world which favours the symbolic over the real.
This realm of the hyperreal has produced a new sort of portraiture, which personifies the inanimate and is inhabited by digital imposters.
An important part of Rachael Archibald’s practice involves playing with the conventions of artistic categories and conforming them into an all inclusive art form through the use of digital technologies. Departing from traditional art production methods, Archibald is more at home in the digital environment, an accessible and flexible space that allows her to explore an expanding range of creative possibilities and outcomes. With these digital processes at hand, trackpad and keyboard, her ideas can be produced rapidly, multiplied infinitely, and disseminated instantly.
Since completing a BFA from the Queensland College of Art, Rachael Archibald has established herself firmly within the global digital arts community. Although living and working in Brisbane, Australia, the majority of her work has been exhibited both overseas and online. Her foray into the online art community was in the 2014 New Digital Art Biennale - The Wrong, held at various sites across the web.
She gained increasing attention and opportunities throughout that year with printed fabric works shown in Venice for the group show, Venturi Effect, videos in Bristol for Bending Light and another shown on office shelves simultaneously in New York and Dresden for Official Office. This year her artwork flew high in the form of a flag, alongside 15 other notable digital artists’ in Berlin for Long Distance Gallery at the Transmediale Festival. Currently she is expanding her practice into graphic arts and visual communication; having already designed posters, cover art and promotional media for other artists, musicians and galleries.
David Bayus was born in 1982 in Johnson City, TN and lives and works in San Francisco, CA. He is an artist and co-founder of BASEMENT art collective located in San Francisco's Mission District. He received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2010. He has exhibited his work in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver. The third book in his ongoing series Stroke debuted at the Los Angeles Art Book Fair this past February. Editions can be found in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Modern Art.
Bayus looks at his work as a means to create theatre. Drawings, paintings and sculptures are made as theatrical property. Abstractions carved from foam, sculpted in clay, or rendered on a computer become actors in a visual play that develops over time. A morgue of images, animations and props are layered and recombined until a narrative emerges. Collaged together, they create the basis for the world in which his practice exists. A place where the ephemera of his studio is formed into stories. This action is an anthropomorphizing act, combing drawings and sculptures with story. The characters that they become exist in a virtual space of their own making.
As the wheel of life turns the wheel forms it’s true but temporary shape. As an artist, Pieter Jossa is primarily concerned with the process of creation rather than the final shape an artwork takes. Too much attachment on the shape and one can stagnate on a delusion. The human construct is the true artwork. Placing upon it the symbols we define to be the true nature. Symbols which rule the mind by passing its powers down from morphic inheritance. Which is the collective unconscious. At first they form solid cubes in which the surface is noticeable, touchable, understandable forming a simplified deterministic nature. As we subdivide the surface the appearance becomes less cohesive and confusion sets in. An information overload takes it’s toll on the psyche, lost in symbolic translation. It is at this stage we either have to turn back to determinism by repressing the expansion or we learn to embrace it. As we embrace the endless data stream, the pearl gets more polished and we learn to no longer walk on a distinguishable mesh but to glide on an endless surface.
This is the liquid state, the becoming of water and the end of the ladder. It is through Jossa’s unique artist expression that he learns to express, working ultimately towards his largest project - the conceptualization of the self. The realization of ones own livelihood by the regaining of symbolical power within ones own mind. There’s no predetermined path laid before you but a borrowed one by which you either accept or reconstruct. Realizing this construction is the quantum state. In which it’s no longer A or B but AB all at once. To know that the mind is within superposition at all times. Because there’s no governing force but your own beliefs that spring from a well of desire.
The digital age with it’s platforms becomes a reflection in the deepest mirror. Information is no longer bound by the border of a book or a mind but is constructed within a hive. As we surf the liquidity of it’s content we are no longer bound to our familiar surroundings to construct our identity. As we explore each other we discover the other within the self by deconstructing the ego. This presents a phase between two extremes, determinism and chaos. Between the fixations of one existence, the god of one’s own ego, the selfie or the expansion of one’s own existence, the endless complexity of our being.
Sara Ludy (b. 1980, Orange, CA.) is an American artist whose practice investigates the confluence of the physical and virtual. Her works include websites, animation, photography, sculpture, and audio-visual performance. Recent solo exhibitions of her work include Subsurface Hell at bitforms gallery, New York, NY; Beyond the Trees: Wallpapers in Dialogue with Emily Carr at Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC. and Place at thecomposingrooms.com. Recent group exhibitions include Low at Lyles & King, New York, NY and Real Things About Real Things at American Medium, Brooklyn, NY.
Kristel Saan is a Vancouver based visual artist originally from Estonia, Tallinn. Saan has studied fine arts and ceramics in Central Saint Martins, Emily Carr and Rhode Island School of Design and holds a BA in Ceramic Design and a MFA from Estonian Academy of Arts. Saan has exhibited in Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Denmark, England, Germany, Belgium, USA, and Canada. She is a member of the International Association of Art and is represented by Estonian Design House.
萩原 卓哉 Hagihara Takuya was born in 1979 in Takarazuka-shi, Hyogo Japan. After graduating from the Institute of Faculty of Technology Electronics in 2002, he acquired design studio experience. Since 2009, he has been a freelance graphic designer based in Tokyo, Japan.
Shauna Jean Doherty
Shauna Jean Doherty is an art critic and curator based in Vancouver via Toronto. Her exhibition and written work primarily focuses on cultural production related to technology. She has written for The Journal of Curatorial Studies, C Magazine, and Magenta Magazine and has curated exhibitions and events for the Art Gallery of Ontario, Vtape (Toronto), Centre For Art Tapes (Halifax), and EMMEDIA (Calgary). She is currently the Distribution and Outreach Manager at VIVO Media Arts Centre in Vancouver.
pictured: untitled (still), digital animation, 00:33 second duration, looped, David Bayus, 2016
An Honest Mimic