Mitchell F. Chan

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Art & Inactivism

Something Something National Conversation (In 2 Characters or Less), 2016
Site-specific installation

Art & Inactivism, a new exhibition by Canadian artist Mitchell F. Chan, questions art's historical voice in public political discourse, and probes its current place in today’s world of increasingly entrenched counter-ideologies, caustic public discourse, twitter-egg trolling and comment-section flame-wars, as enabled by technology

Angell Gallery in Toronto is pleased to present this exhibition of three new installation artworks by the artist, running from December 2nd, 2016 to January 7, 2017. An opening reception for the artist will take place on Saturday December 10, 2016 from 2-4pm.

JMW Turner's The Slave Ship is a kinetic sculpture that re-examines one of Western history's great political artworks. The piece presents Turner's choppy waters as undulating velvet ropes, reaching the shore over 175 years after they were painted. 

In Something Something National Conversation (In 2 Characters Or Less), two clouds of water vapour emerge from holes in opposite gallery walls and float toward each other. They collide and dissipate into nothingness, a phenomenon that repeats in perpetuity. The artwork is simultaneously a spectacle, and an over-elaborate exercise in futility.  

This large-scale installation, occupying the entire main gallery space and generating over 3000 litres of water vapour per hour, is the dramatic and conceptual centrepiece of the exhibition, tapping into a sense of powerlessness and puzzlement over the state of our current public discourse.

Infinite News Feed is an algorithmically-generated musical score that accompanies the exhibition. Throughout the exhibition run, the work will play in the gallery and stream live on the artist's website. The piece generates lyrics by pulling the day's news headlines from the internet, and recites them along to a droning musical accompaniment composed in real-time by software of the artist's design. Set against the piece Something Something, the entire exhibition becomes a machine opera of infinite duration, giving dramatic representation to the ways we consume -- and engage with -- the discursive world around us.

Mitchell F. Chan is a previous recipient of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Trustee Scholarship, as well as grants from the Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts council. He works predominantly in public art, through the firm he co-founded in 2008, Studio F Minus. In 2016, Studio F Minus exhibited Air Pressure, a collection of 175 kinetic sculptures, on the Manhattan waterfront, and F#Fountain, a musical water sculpture, in Toronto's In/Future Festival. His last presentation at Angell Gallery, 2013's Sol LeWitt Generator, re-assessed ideas of conceptual art and ownership in a post-internet world. Mitchell F. Chan was born in Pembroke, Ontario, and is based in Toronto.

JMW Turner's The Slave Ship, 2016
Site-specific installation