House of Voltage

October 23, 2008

By Mike Landry
    Caution! Halifax's Eyelevel Gallery becomes a House of Voltage this week.

Caution! Halifax's Eyelevel Gallery becomes a House of Voltage this week.

Beginning just four years ago short term electronic workshops at Halifax’s Centre For Art Tapes begot long-term master’s classes. Those in turn got the wheels turning and director Ilan Sandler cobbled funding together to establish a pilot electronics program at the media centre. Now, set to begin its second Electronics Residency Program, the pilot program has become part of the centre’s core operations. Such was the demand for electronic arts in Halifax.

“CFAT has been around for 30 years and has looked on the horizon for the development of artwork. And as a media centre it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination to set up an electronics lab.”

The fruits of the first electronic residency will be on display at Halifax’s Eyelevel Gallery for the exhibition House of Voltage. Featuring the work of five primarily visual artists, the pieces combine programmable microprocessors, electronic circuits, and sensors applied to audio, video, and new media applications with their own artistic practices.

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Temporary Architectures

October 16, 2008

By Mike Landry
Susan Dobson captures the glory of downtown Guelph's Sears.

Susan Dobson captures the glory of downtown Guelph's Sears.

Photographer Susan Dobson used to live in the suburbs. She was a commuter and lived by her car. Now, living in downtown Guelph, she’s come to reject that way of life.

As a result, much of her work has dealt with the suburban landscape and environments. Her latest series of photographic works take box stores as its subject, with Dobson digitally blackening the buildings to create a dark box. In particular, it was the Sears building in downtown Guelph that drew her to the project.

“It’s just a box, a very long elongated strip. And it almost becomes a barrier between sky and parking lot,” says Dobson. “I found that was an example of the most banal architecture I had ever seen.”

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Danish Modern

October 16, 2008

By Mike Landry
Suzanne Swannie's "Brud I."

Suzanne Swannie's "Brud I."

Danish-born textile artist Suzanne Swannie‘s life has been a negotiation between degrees of strict economy and wild adventure. After earning a Danish hand weavers Journeyman’s certificate and a degree in Textile Design and Technology from Sweden in the early 60s she crossed the Atlantic for a two-year teaching position in Newfoundland. This balance of adventure and Danish modern economy would end up shaping her life and work.

“My production has been very interrelated so all the rest of my life,” says Swannie. “There were a lot of shifts and changes in my life, and each era in a way produced a certain type of work that fit into my state of mind and situation.”

Wooed by the Canadian landscape, Swannie stayed in Canada getting married, divorcing and raising two daughters on her own. The following decades were spent busily trying to balance her life with thread being her second language.

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High on a Hill

October 9, 2008

By Stacey Ho
Choose either goat or

Lipton invites you to be either goatherd or Heidi in "High on a Hill"

Sometimes love is just not meant to be.

Trapped on two separate snowy mountains, a pair of alpine lovers in green attire yodel to one another above a howling wind. As their calls intensify, the storm subsides and the snow melts away. Heidi and her goatherd lover fade into their freshly green mountain backdrop. The sound of trickling water is all that remains.

This short video is the centre of High on a Hill, a new installation by Lisa Lipton. Playing off The Sound of Music-style kitsch, the exhibition asks viewers to participate in the gallery space. Surrounded by towering green mountain murals, Lipton adds a touristy plywood mountain vignette to the gallery. Visitors step behind the sculpture to have their photo taken as Heidi or the goatherd.

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Jennifer Zimmer's self-portrait.

A self-portrait, part of Jennifer Zimmer's portrait series.

Throughout grade school I don’t think I had a single usable portrait taken of me. Year after year I would come home with a selection of photos that went from bad to worse. It was all thanks to what my mom called my fake smile—a goofy expression that only occurred when I was placed in front of a camera. If only Halifax photographer Jennifer Zimmer was my class photographer.

Zimmer’s latest series of 18 hand-made photographs play with the ideas of portraiture. She had her subjects lay down in the fetal position and use a shutter release cable to take a photo when they felt most comfortable.

“It’s kind of a sense of individuality, isolation and a bit of vulnerability in each one,” says Zimmer. “The point I wanted to make was in a limited environment, even though constraints are put on us, our individual bodies still seek expression.”

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