The Powerplant Family was an artist collective I helped to organize with Lucy May, Naomi Lasry, and Sammono Chau. We held an exhibition called Nature of State, which explored the role of nature in modern life and featured works by 23 artists. I collaborated with Lucy May and Lysandre Coutu-Sauvé to create an interactive dance installation called Play Station #9, described here.
The following material is from the (now offline) Powerplant website.
The nuclear family has mutated. We have taken a look at the soil in which we sit and have found that some of us flourish in our terracotta, while others long to push roots in wider spaces free of concrete. Though each of us is earthed in our own particular little world, we are all exposed to two radiations: nature and urbanity.
Traditionally, these two are seen as warring elements. Although industrial development can devestate the setting in which it lays its foundations, nature (in the broadest sense of the term) persists in exerting a force as strong as steel or red-tape: dandelions push through cracks in the sidewalk, enormous factories erode, patterns of migration emerge at rush hour. And so the characterization of the city as nature’s antagonist, with which we are so familiar, cannot be taken at face value. In fact, when we look closely, the distinction between said opponents dissolves; the city, we realise, is a natural thing.
Our investigation into this convergence will be documented in the exhibition Nature of State. The photographers, sculptors, performers, graffiti writers, dancers, musicians, streetrunners, filmmakers, poets, wanderers and philosophers who have all helped to water and to shed some light on the seed of our theme, will exhibit their findings and reactions between Friday April 7th and Saturday April 15th 2006. The result will be lush.
135 Avenue Van Horne, corner Waverly
Commercial galleries and malls: An indoor natural environment?
Malls, food courts and underground galleries try hard to make us feel like we are in a natural environment. But are we really taken in by fake plants, fake fountains, and fake pavement?
A series of drawings relating animals to humans.
This piece is about the North Star and how it is constantly changing states. Currently it is Polaris, of the constellation Ursa Minor. In the past it has also been part of the constellations Draco (Thuban), Lyra (Vega), and Cepheus (Alpha Cephei). The star shifts between these constellations independently. To illustrate this, I am using images of our pasts, present and futures superimposed with illustrations of the shifting stars.
Louise Birdsell Bauer
The Playing Field
We often have stirring exchanges in city park spaces, and that dialogue is the central theme of my short stories. People find release in green spaces, however small or brief the occasion. The emanating feelings, both sensory and cerebral, allow for a renewed inclination to create. The characters in these stories collectively attest to this everyday miracle, occasionally giving us a glimpse into their imagination.
Photography & Installation
Still-video & audio loop
Long exposed colour still photographs of trains entering various Montreal metro stations are matched by the sound recorded during the length of the creation of the image. All images are combined with recorded sound to create a video loop.
Remote controlled found objects
Vector Sigma is a supercomputer located deep within Cybertron. It is unknown who created it or for what purpose, but it is known that it is capable of granting inanimate robots both life and intelligence.” – Wikipedia
When I was nine, my friend and I were going to build an intelligent robot from a broken calculator we had found. For this project, I, Vector Sigma, will drink lots of coffee and grant new life to discarded objects. My packrat nature, in tandem with my fascination since childhood with circuitry or anything cybernetic (Transformers of course), have had me collecting treasures from numerous street corners and adopting discarded remote controlled toys from work (formerly known as Radio Shack). I have always been shocked and a bit sad to see perfectly good material, most of the time really useful and usable, heaped around town on garbage day. The end result will be an almalgamated being equipped with kinetic movement, its own dialect, and will radiate junk culture vitally, which I witness every day as people flock into my workplace to buy the latest disposable technology.
People usually decline our “Three Year Extended Warranty Repair or Replacement Plan” with the response: “For what it’s worth, I’d rather throw it away and buy a new one.”
Nuclear Tree Line
Pen & ink illustrations mounted in houseplants
My submission includes three abstract paintings which all have to do with being caught in something greater than yourself, whether it be city or nature, the link to both is there… but my most inspired submission is to be a House Plant installation This installation is composed of three house plants of different sizes, in each plant, an illustration will be found, mounted as if they are a natural part of the whole. The idea is to convey house plants as a new medium for the artist, a platform which one may grow from, artist as plant. But the thought of it is taken further in that many artistic works are produced in confined spaces, apartments, studios, four walls; a mirror image of house plants, of sorts, un-able to connect to the true roots of their natural environments The installation is a means of showing the viewer how the most absurd mind is only as free as the space which it is in; frame of mind, framed images, framed plants, refined nature for the refined artists.
The main theme of the piece is how humans have evolved and how new scientific discoveries have changed the state of humans. Human Cocoon focuses on rebirth and deals with the question, “What would it look like if humans invented a way to be reborn?”
Sex and Gender
Embroidery on raw silk
Using my own life-size image, I play with the roles we are assigned. This diptych questions the perceived biological nature of sex and gender, while explorng the performance of such identities.
Nature is Communicating
Acrylic on a recycled skateboard
Though Nature doesn’t have the sophisticated human means of expression as language, it does have much consciousness and communicates to us constantly. Through the colors of springtime, life, the smells in the air, the food we eat, and drugs we intake, it talks. The chemical message comes across more clearly via Psychadelic intake, and it appears to me that it is saying for us to unite with it instead of creating divisions. To harmonise with a system that is part of us, or continue our mass suicide. Plants definitely have Power and divinity, as everything is a small cell in the giant body of God.
Conte & acrylic on canvas
My project is about buses. That is, I have drawn an interior of a bus. The bus that I use as transport every single day is the subject. Consider the bus as your walk into the nature when you’re using it. I stare at the bus so much for so long, it really deserves to become a picture and made look pretty for once.
Body, Lamp, Turtle
The image of the turtle is my reaction or trying to mimic the experience of volunteering in Tortugeuro, Costa Rica, witnessing thousands of tourists invading the endangered sea turtle’s moment to lay its eggs. It resembles a rotting carcass of a turtle, made out of industrial materials. The installation will include this turtle surrounded by sand, whereby the audience becomes the invaders. The turtle finds itself in this modern surrounding, lost yet somehow adapting to the new environment of human activity.
The image of the lamp tree, is like a street lamp revolting, against its destined materials, wants to become nature or in some way just does, and grows arms and resembles that of an organic tree.
The image of me with my crooked spine refers to the body in its present shape and to industrialization and the mechanics of prosthetics.
Deconstructed vintage cameras, silver chain & accessories
Having a constant fascination with the idea of deconstructed objects, I am constantly interested in rebuilding them into a new context — giving them new life. Here, I have taken apart broken photographic cameras and used their parts to make accessories which adorn necks, giving them a new purpose and life.
Photo: Maxime Coté
Lucy May, Lysandre Coutu-Sauvé, David Birnbaum
Play Station #9
In this interactive improvisation, sound is used as the language of translation between spectator demand and the acted choreographic respons. A videogame controller is used to control synthesis software written by David Birnbaum, allowing the audience to manipulate live sound samples, which in turn will inform the dancers how to move. The resulting instant choreography will be the product of the spectator-director’s choices, and the indvidual dancers’ interpretation of that sound. They will draw on their unique movement vocabularies and impulses, as opposed to socially codified movement from the moment we walk upright to the bathroom in the morning, to the hours we spend in ergonomic chairs with hands outstretched over a keyboard, to the late hours we spend trying to look our best inna the club.
The process becomes a metaphor for how individuals adapt to their responsibilities in society: to perform well, to "save face" or to "get away with ". These are new behaviors particular to living within a hierarchical city structure. Human nature has changed to suit its context.
We invite you to put our new instincts to the test and to witness movement unleashed from social norms.
This interactive dance system plays on the triple-reliance among body mover, sound, and active observer. My goals were to preserve a fluid progression of interaction, but above all to cull a sense of beauty from both the sound synthesis and the movers. The goal is the opposite of confrontation – rather, the observer is presented with a familiar physical interface (a videogame controller), with which he soon discovers apt control of real-time sound synthesis; and immediately after, realizes physical control of a duo of female dancers, gracefully employing the observer’s suggestions with improvisational movement.
There have been dancer-control interfaces that have relied on rule- and knowledge-based reactionary behavior. This system, on the contrary, relies on skill-based improvisational interpretation of signal-level control messages. This shift toward immediacy and freedom comes with a necessary detriment to precise, accurate correlation between the mover’s gestures and the observer’s whimsical directives: the experiment is thus in the ability for the observer to derive meaning from an action-reaction system that is held together not by explicit rules but by the tastes and biases of the "inter-actors". An additional point is the question of whether any perceived correlation (if indeed, there is any at all) is genuine, or manufactured by the observer’s natural tendency to connect abstract stimuli in two simultaneous modes of perception (vision, sound), compounded by the element of perceived control.
Video & audio loop
I have taken the relationship between nature and the city and juxtaposed the idea that the city is a symbol of advance and technology whereas nature is a symbol of cycle and the primitive and the organic. Even with differences such as these, can we find similarities?
This is a video work presented on a loop. The video is one long take and quite simple. It begins with an image and sound of a waterfall (symbol of nature). This will continue for one minute. The camera tracks out slowly until the viewer realizes the waterfall is on a television (symbol of technology/city). The sound of the waterfall continues. While tracking out, the image of the waterfall gets switched to television “snow”. Yet the sound does not change. Track out further and reverse the action. Finally entering into a loop of track ins and outs. On each level and sound level is heightened.
This piece uses visual medium but the impact or punchline comes by audible means. The sound of the natural waterfall mirrors that of the technological television and vice versa, questioning a surreal similarity between the central themes and questioning the state of nature.
Pk514 / Safe Solvent
L’art du déplacement
A video demonstrating the difference between regular “civilians” and the tracer’s (someone who practices parkour) way of moving in the city. I want to show how we adapted our bodies and visions in the way we see and use the city. It will be filmed throughout the day from early sunset to busy morning rush until sunset again… the video will be projected into a designed “BOARD” with photographs surrounding the white area for the video.
All design and artistic aspects done and directed by Safesolvent.
Rooted in Concrete
UV Base Screen Print
In this piece I’ve continued exploring my interests concerning how humans relate to the earth. Architecture and landscape come to the forefront here. The manner in which resources are used and configured speaks volumes of the society they help define. As usual, I’ve decided it best to take a light-hearted approach to the topics at hand. I find this helps spark productive dialogue and offers a fresh perspective on weighty issues.
Carl David Ruttan
nSpace Textures II
Frame 1: The action of photographing a small textural detail on the city surface. Frame 2: The printing and installation of the photographed texture on a new surface (photographic paper). Frame 3: The construction of a virtual space to further recontextualize the captured texture. Frame 4: The return to the original surface, now framed with a conventional picture frame in situ.
This multiple framing calls into question the actual location of the work: Where is art?
Faces of Man
As photography has evolved into a digital medium, the act of photography has not yet changed with it. The majority of digital art is still based on illustration. As such I use photographic montage to create digital portraits of people.
I am looking to do a performance piece of collecting all the garbage from things I use over a course of a week or two weeks (however long it takes to make it relevant) and attach it to my clothing, by stitching it to a coat as sort of a ceremonial or ritualistic event.
I will be documenting the performance with photography and possibly video, illustrating public reactions and relationships in urban space. What I would like to show is the garbage suit and documentation at the show!
Les Face Cachées de la Lune
Acrylic on wood
Les Face Cachées de la Lune is a series of paintings that reflect my vision of the moon beyond the real. This powerful symbol of the night has one side that we never see, they call it “The hidden face of the moon”. One night I discovered there were others!