Unbound A/V Art: Redefining the Undefined
An online exhibition featuring 19 A/V artworks, programmed by five curators, organized into four themes, screening for free on VUCAVU, November 29 to Dec 11, 2022
Streaming for FREE on VUCAVU
The idea for this online exhibition of audiovisual (A/V) art began with Julie Gendron and Emma Hendrix of Manufacturing Entertainment at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. As they saw opportunities for presenting their A/V performance art dwindle, they knew it must be happening to other artists too. Gendron and Hendrix wanted to find an online venue to share this work until it was possible to have in-person events again.
As they explored their idea further, questions arose about the genre itself. Why is it more challenging to find A/V art in North America while it is so popular in Europe and Japan? Why does it seem so privileged and exclusive? Who is making it and who is excluded? Are there boundaries to the genre? Are there common themes? Gendron and Hendrix knew they could not have a balanced conversation on their own and formed a curatorial collective so they could learn more.
In this momentary collective, Constantine Katsiris, Kofi Oduro, Jennifer Smith, Emma Hendrix and Julie Gendron met over six months to examine and discuss these questions. Scroll down to find the members’ musings about their conversations and discoveries.
List of Artists
The Automatic Message
Freya Björg Olafson
Gary James Joynes (Clinker)
Grupo D’Binis (Luis Navarro and Jessica Rodriguez)
Inflatable Deities (Emily Pelstring, Jessica Mensch)
Jacob Audrey Taves
Bret Parenteau & Rhayne Vermette
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
“Unbound A/V Art: Redefining the Undefined” Curatorial Collective
STATEMENT: My first introduction to A/V was in my 20s at a warehouse dance party at a time when DJs still hauled records, and laptops only belonged to businessmen with blue ties. At this party (and many others) the visual part of A/V was created by splicing and taping 8mm film into loops and running them through multiple projectors. They were performatively swapped out and overlaid by the artist, whose identity was unknown to me.
Inspired, I learned how to create loops on VCR tapes from miscellaneous TV dubs. I used an old analog video mixer that was probably originally intended for arena rock shows. The “mirror effect” was its most satisfying effect, and really the only worthwhile one besides the alpha, which could mix VHS sources together. The comeback of the mirror effect on video some 20 years later by younger artists who enjoy its “novelty” amuses me and makes me very aware of my age.
Today, A/V art is created and exhibited all over the world. Its definition is ever-evolving and growing with the development of new technologies and processes. In relation to Turtle Island, my presumption was that it is a less exhibited genre that was underappreciated. As Manufacturing Entertainment, an artist duo that engages in many collective collaborations, Emma Hendrix and I wanted to explore why. Working with my fellow curators has shown me that there are many artists working in A/V art across Canada. The collective remixed definitions and dissolved a few assumptions.
The strongest characteristic of A/V art for me is that it provides an interpretive abundance. There are no direct paths to meaning. It is like a multidimensional painting. Instead of an instance in time, it is an immersive journey through a time-based flow. My suggestion for people who are new to this form is to sit down, take your time and put your headphones on.
BIO: Julie Gendron is an artist whose work challenges perceptions by way of interactivity, decay, playfulness and abstraction. Julie completed her graduate work in the department of Art, Design and Technology at Concordia University specializing in Participatory Design. She has received awards from the Japan Media Art Festival, Canariasmediafest (Spain), Berlin Indie Film Festival, Centre interuniversitaire des arts mediatiques, and Dora and Avi Morrow Award for Excellence in Visual Arts. She has performed, exhibited and shared her work in Sweden, Iceland, Spain, Japan, Australia, USA and across Canada. Julie also works as an independent consultant specializing in the arts digital strategy and is one-half of Manufacturing Entertainment with Emma Hendrix.
LINKS: Manufacturing Entertainment IG, desiring productions
STATEMENT: What if you knew what you were looking for but then saw something you didn’t expect? How do you feel when you connect with a work that makes you ponder & reflect? Wonder beyond the domain of its content?
This is what AV means to me and does to me: not knowing what I will truly witness and hear but always engaging in some kind of discussion because of it. From installations to exhibitions, animation to sonification—they all take the audience on a journey. The journey may include visuals induced by code or sound arising from tedious labour, but the experience is heightened at its core.
Curating alongside Constantine Katsiris, Emma Hendrix, Jennifer Smith and Julie Gendron has been an exploration of itself. Bringing together not only a diverse assortment of A/V content but also the numerous conversations within the mediums where artists’ voices are heard thru their work, evoking emotions and sensations.
“Unbound” sets to release the straps of Genre and reimagine the full depth and breadth that is A/V.
BIO: Kofi Odur (Illestpreacha) is a Creative Coder & Experience Enhancer, who merges an array of media to provide unique experiences that promote discussion, reflection, and interaction. With over 10 years of performance, event production and audiovisual output, he has extensive experience in many new forms of promotional and performance technologies. He is well known, respected and successful in his communities online and off.
LINKS: Illestpreacha IG
STATEMENT: Entering into this collective of amazing A/V artists and thinkers I knew I was going to get to learn a lot. As a curator, my work often focuses on digital-based art, but I had not thought about some of that work as A/V art. Through the process of discussion and exploration with the group, we talked about what A/V art is and is not. We shared work we loved and challenged each other’s ideas.
We moved through ideas of how A/V art can be presented, looking at stage-based performance, installation, performance art, generative digital work, video, and so on.
We looked at the histories of A/V, specifically talking through performances created for a dance party and how the medium has shifted with online presentation methods. We also thought through ASMR, online performances, and the importance of documentation in making performances accessible.
We moved through the artworks’ impacts and how artists are using digital technologies to create this work. Our discussion included how AV can bring forward cultural knowledge, be a form of protest, or a means to spread joy, as well as the ways it can calm us.
In many ways, I wish everyone engaging with this program could have been present during our collective conversations, and contributed more to them. It feels rare that there are opportunities to deeply explore ideas of an art form together, and this was one of those unique and magical moments.
BIO: Jennifer Smith is a Métis curator, writer and arts administrator from Treaty One territory. She is the National Director of the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition’s (NIMAC). Jennifer has curated exhibits and video programs for the Manitoba Craft Council, Video Pool Media Arts Centre, Open City Cinema, MAWA, the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library, and in 2018 was
the Indigenous Curator in Residence at aceartinc.
STATEMENT: What I miss about mix tapes is the time and care it takes to create them: I had to listen in real-time choosing the cassettes and thinking about the person I was making it for. I would try to listen through the recipient’s ears while the music transferred to the tape, and within that discover the perfect songs to follow, with just the right amount of silence between them. There’s a delicate balance to strike between the tastes of the mixtape maker and that of the listener, requiring insight into both to make a perfect flow of sound and music.
In a way, curating this program with Kofi, Jennifer, Constantine and Julie felt a bit like making and receiving an A/V mixtape. Together, we have prepared this one for you.
Here you’ll find a collection of artists championed by each curator who brought them forward and spent time talking about what they love about their work. When I sit down to experience these artworks now, I am brought back to our many conversations about A/V, art, and of course, the artists. I marvel at how each curator brought their own unique insights to this project, and the beauty of this mix of art, care and intention.
BIO: Emma is a Sound Designer, Composer and media art installation artist. Through sound Emma builds visceral, expressive environments that explore the narratives of individual experience by revealing and exploring the inherent qualities of sounds, particularly field recordings, found sounds, and ‘machine languages’ of everyday things. Emma creates installations and performances as Manufacturing Entertainment with Julie Gendron and composes for theatre, dance, video, film and new media installations and performances.
LINKS: Manufacturing Entertainment IG, emmahendrix.com
STATEMENT: Through our discussions about what denotes A/V artworks and the associated boundaries, the concept took on a prismatic quality, once everyone’s perspective was taken into account. Similarities between the various works were like disparate nodes strewn about a chaotic space until eventually they were connected and coalesced into thematic programs.
BIO: Constantine Katsiris (scant intone) has been active in exploring the electronic arts since the mid-1990s as an artist, curator, designer, and producer. Over a period of more than twenty years he has been integral in organizing countless events for experimental, improvised, and electronic music both locally and abroad. These events have featured performances by artists from across Canada as well as international artists from all over the globe. This experience has led him to be involved with programming showcases for world-renowned festivals and booking tours for artists on Panospria, his own sub-label of No Type Records based in Montréal.
LINKS: scant intone