Philippe Blanchard, Rafael Ochoa
ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present SIMULATORS, an exhibition showcasing new work by eight artists who are at the forefront of contemporary digital art practices — Philippe Blanchard, David Clarkson, Alex Fischer, Brianna Lowe, Alex McLeod, Rafael Ochoa, Jon Rafman and Jillian Ross. The exhibition is on throughout the gallery from November 3 to December 1, 2012. An opening reception will be held on November 3, 1:00 – 4:00 PM. Digital technology has created a revolution in the art world, spawning the first new medium to arise since the birth of the artists' videos in the 1960s. Encompassing an astonishingly wide range of approaches, digital art is now exhibited and collected by major museums, and is sought after by collectors worldwide. Angell Gallery has been a leader in promoting digital art practices, and the artists in Simulators demonstrate the varied possibilities of this new medium, which as a creative tool is both demanding and limitless. Using software with the dexterity with which painters traditionally wielded the brush, the artists in Simulators create digital paintings, videos and animations that intrigue, inspire and engage. The featured artists are each recognized for their unique contributions to this developing medium. Jon Rafman could be the poster boy for the diversity of contemporary digital art practices. Although he is best known for his Nine Eyes of Google Street View, recently exhibited at London's renowned Saatchi Gallery, the work in Simulators demonstrates that Rafman goes far beyond the simple re-presentation of found imagery. In his series New Age Demanded, Rafman creates 2D images of sculptural heads, cunningly fashioned from digital swatches drawn from paintings by modern masters. Also showing is Remembering Carthage, a video that charts a simulated quest to find a virtual simulacrum, namely an abandoned resort hotel in the Sahara desert. Rafman, based in Montreal, holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide. Alex McLeod's work delights and confounds. They appear to be photographs of futuristic fantasy dioramas, yet are entirely constructed using a specialized 3D rendering program. Expertly exploiting the software's capacity to emulate surface textures, McLeod builds highly tactile virtual worlds replete with gleaming globular clouds, shiny porcelain towers, plastic fir trees and crystalline structures, sumptuous yet strangely deserted. McLeod is represented in public and private collections, and at age 28 has already had seven solo exhibitions, including this year's Curiosity at Mass MoCA. David Clarkson cultivates a cross-disciplinary approach that reflects a contemporary ‘fluidity’ of image or identity. Within this context, new perceptual or theoretical developments occurring at theintersection of technology and representation have frequently examined. In the past, David has worked with ‘web-cam’ imagery of remote landscapes, selected primarily from NASA's Mars Missions database. Philippe Blanchard is a Toronto-based artist, animator, teacher and curator. Blanchard's practice explores the nature and history of animation and special effects through installation, live visuals and animations. Simulators presents a new animation, Belief System, which is Blanchard's update of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 post-cataclysmic film, Stalker. Blanchard's work has been screened in international galleries and festivals including Rencontres Internationales Paris-Berlin, the Hirshhorn Museum, LACMA (Los Angeles), San Francisco Art Institute and CalArts. Alex Fischer reconfigures art world images sampled from the web to construct richly layered, painterly landscape and figural compositions that belie the means of their creation. Ranging from Romantic solitary wanderers to composite faces that suggest a cyber-age Bosch, Fischer's expressive mash-ups are held together by his canny sense of colour and composition. The Toronto-based Fischer graduated from York University with a BFA in Visual Arts, and is represented in noted collections. His work has been featured in Black/Flash, Beautiful/Decay and The Walrus, among others. Brianna Lowe is multi-disciplinary artist working in video, 3D animation and collage. Her explorations focus on how the environment is experienced through the mediation of digital media such as appropriated stock photos, web interfaces and video loops. Her new video in Simulators re-interprets images of the earth culled from NASA’s online image bank. Through manipulating form and scale, Lowe creates a new visual experience that is strangely familiar. Lowe studied painting, printmaking and installation at OCAD University. Her videos were recently screened in the Gladstone's Art Bar. Rafael Ochoa uses digital rendering software to create dynamic pictures that infuse Old Master forms with a contemporary surrealist edge. In Ochoa's new series, l'Odéon, puppet-like figures cavort in boxy spaces that act as stage sets for enigmatic dramas. While reflecting the breadth of art historical sources offered up through the 'net, Ochoa's pictures are not mash-ups but original creations that nod to past traditions while living decidedly in the present. Based in Toronto, Ochoa holds a BFA in Photography and an MFA in Visual Arts from OCAD U. Ochoa has had several shows at Angell Gallery. Jillian Ross mines Tumblr's image overload, dramatically transforming her sources through exhaustive physical and virtual explorations of the details of texture and form that initially attracted her eye. The resulting digital renderings and paintings on canvas are a rich and varied investigation of subtleties of gesture and mark-making. The Toronto-based Ross has a BFA from OCAD U, and has shown in Toronto at MOCCA, TPW and Angell Gallery, as well as in Syracuse, Brooklyn and New York City.