ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present SIMULATORS II, an exhibition of new digital art featuring nine artists — Napoleon Brousseau, Mitchell F. Chan, Alex Fischer, Francoise Gamma, Brenna Murphy, Aamna Muzaffar, Rafael Ochoa, Geoffrey Pugen and Tobias Williams. The exhibition is up in the east and west galleries from February 21 to March 22, 2014. A related exhibition by Philippe Blanchard will run concurrently in the Project Room. An opening reception will be held on February 21, 6–9 PM.
In recent critical discussion, the phrase Post-Internet art has surfaced to replace the term New Media, reflecting the now ubiquitous nature of digital technology. Now that the Internet has shifted from novelty to normalcy, Post-Internet artists are focusing less on the means and more on the ends, creating work that couples virtual reality with a strong material presence. The art world’s embrace of this new phase was signaled by the first auction dedicated exclusively to digital art, staged by renowned auction house, Phillips, in October of 2013. Angell Gallery has been at the forefront of promoting this new wave of digital practice, and in SIMULATORS II the gallery showcases artists who represent the exciting diversity of this rapidly expanding field.
Art history provides a rich mine for a number of artists in the show. Rafael Ochoa’s sumptuous digital paintings are made using a unique rendering process he has developed over several years. Focusing on select elements drawn from images of Old Master paintings that he finds online, Ochoa creates new works that infuse the beauty of historical art with a subtle postmodern flare.
Geoffrey Pugen’s video, Bird Lady, is an uncanny revision of the tradition of Grand Manner Portraiture, in which aristocrats are pictured in a bucolic setting symbolic of land ownership. The chimerical Bird Lady blinks at us from her eerie forested realm, where the cycle of day and night plays out at heightened speed and intensified colour, making it clear that we are voyeurs into a world that is hers, not ours.
Mitchell F. Chan pays tribute to 20th century conceptual grandmaster Sol Lewitt. Translating Lewitt’s instructions for wall drawings into computer code, Chan generates video animations on a mural-sized screen that mimic the visual results of Lewitt’s original pieces. The chance element in Lewitt’s method, which entails others executing his often minimal instructions, finds its mirror in randomized variables that produce different results each time the program is run. Other artists in SIMULATORS II reflect on the information age’s rich smorgasbord of sources, ranging from analog to web-based. Alex Fischer, a self-styled “sociologist of internet culture”, combs the web for diverse images drawn from art, science and technology. These he twists and turns, mows and mulches, to produce brand new entities in the forms of digital paintings and sculptures that tease us with hints at narrative possibilities while straddling the borders of abstraction.
Tobias Williams also responds to the wealth of visual material on the ‘net, in particular the issue of contextless information. In The Way Of The Future V1, Williams fashions stacks of melting future-pop burgers, resplendent in iridescent pinks, neon stripes and black-purple patterns. The resulting works exemplify the boundary-breaking nature of the new digital art, appearing simultaneously two and three dimensional, high and low art. A Claes Oldenburg for the digital age?
Digital artists are also exploring the intersections of virtual and actual reality.The work of Aamna Muzaffar is her response to the perceptible, legible and invisible of the information age. Using a variety of digital procedures and processes, coupled with chance events, she creates abstract paintings and sculptures that are “analog”, yet whose conception is routed in technology.
Brenna Murphy uses personal recording devices and computer graphics to weave digital labyrinths. In her video, elemental~nanostrand, home movie type imagery — beaches, parks, family, friends, homes — morph into psychedelic swirls and patterns that evoke hallucinogenic experiences. A superimposed image of a computer screen, spiraling in upon itself, underscores the computer’s role as mediator between physical, psychic and virtual realms.
Napoleon Brousseau uses augmented reality software to create a new level of interactive portraiture. A digital art pioneer, for SIMULATORS II, Brousseau presents a self-portrait featuring over 80 layers of imagery, including the artist’s “power tools”, objects of great personal significance. Viewers may learn more about each through an augmented reality app that provides access to text, web links and videos. This state-of-the-art technology is balanced by the densely textured neo-expressionism of the image.
In contrast to Brousseau’s cutting-edge technology, the elusive Francoise Gamma uses obsolete software to create her delightfully bizarre animated GIFs. Graphically rendered figures, contorted, mutated and distorted, arise, stride, cavort, explode or collapse in a jerky ballet performed in a cyber space limbo where the strangest things can, and do, happen.
Napoleon Brousseau aka Napo B, a graduate of Ontario College of Art and Design, was a founder of internationally acclaimed artist collective FastwÃ¼rms. A multi-disciplinarian, Brousseau had his new media project, SEED, presented at the Winter Olympics in Whistler BC in 2010 and the McMichael Gallery in 2012. Brousseau recently returned to his painterly roots with a solo exhibition at Robert Kananaj Gallery.
Mitchell F. Chan has a BA in Architectural Studies from Carleton University and an MFA in Art and Technology Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was awarded the Trustee Scholarship. He has exhibited as part of Luminato and Nuit Blanche, and in galleries across North America, including at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC. Chan is the co-founder of public art firm Studio F-Minus.
Alex Fischer is a Toronto-based who graduated from York University with a BFA in Visual Arts. Fischer has had solo exhibitions at O’Born Contemporary and Volta NY. His work has been featured in Black/Flash, Beautiful/Decay and The Walrus, among others, and he is represented in several noted collections.
Francoise Gamma is a Toronto-born, Barcelona-based artist whose work has been featured in group exhibitions at the Tate Modern in London, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, BOZAR in Belgium and the Museo Sourmaya in Mexico City on the Kanye West blog, and in a solo exhibition as part of the American Fantasy Classics series. She is a member of the online art collective Computers Club.
Brenna Murphy, based in Portland, Oregon, has a BFA from the Pacific Northwest College of Art. She has had solo exhibitions in Dusseldorf, Berlin, Milan, San Francisco, Houston, New York City and Portland, and has been featured in Flash Art, Art 21 Blog, Frieze, and Dazed and Confused. Murphy was the 2012-2013 Rhizome Commissions Recipient for Labyrinths, and was featured in the Phillips digital art auction.
Aamna Muzaffar has a BFA in Sculpture and Installation, with a minor in Expanded Animation from OCADU. She has had solo exhibitions at Tomorrow Gallery and was featured artist during the 2012 Images Festival. Muzaffar was the recipient of the OCADU 2012 Medal for Sculpture / Installation.
Rafael Ochoa holds a BFA in Photography from OCADU and an MFA in Visual Arts from York University. Ochoa has been in several shows at Angell Gallery, and was part of the two-person exhibition Park Workers on Toronto Island. BlogTo recently named Ochoa one of Top 5 Toronto Artist To Watch in 2014.
Geoffrey Pugen has degrees in theatre arts from the University of British Columbia and Integrated Media from Ontario College of Art and Design. His film, video, installations and images have been exhibited internationally including in Germany, Australia, Poland, England, and across Canada. Pugen is a recipient of the K.M Hunter Award for Interdisciplinary art.
Tobias Williams is a digital artist and printmaker working in Toronto. He graduated with an MFA from York University in 2013 and current works as an instructor in printmaking at OCAD U. He has shown at X-Space Cultural Centre, and was the curator and project manager for the 2013 Open Studio event Nui Blanc: Knock Off Merchandise Factory.