Friday, December 07, 2007

Digital thread(s) imagined and fully involved

Artist, Lynne Heller Second Life avatar, Nar Duell, The Heldscalla Foundation, Buttemere, Second Life.

This months brings with it six artist; Jennifer Angus, Joanna Berzowska, Kai Chan, Lynne Heller, Ruth Scheuing and Samuel Thomas. Internationally known for innovative work that challenges the boundaries of conventional textile arts. They are presented/ exhibiting in two separate venues.

Lynne Heller’s Really [this show is rented] is located in both a physical space Redhead Gallery in Toronto Ontario Canada and online in a virtual world, The Heldscalla Foundation, Buttemere, Second Life, this event is taking place from November 21, 2007 – December 15, 2007

You can experience this “installation” in a few different ways; on her site from noon until 5 pm there is streaming video from Redhead Gallery, it is streaming video of a computer screen with plants around it set up in the gallery. You can drop by the gallery and watch what is happening on the computer screen and chat with Lynne unless she has to attend to a virtual visitor.

In order have a full on line virtual visit and hang out with Nar Duell (Lynne Heller) you have to go to Second Life and build your own avatar (character) Lynne told me I would run into a “slight learning curve” and that it takes a bit of time. After joining you download a set of tools with which to build your character, and then find Heldscalla Foundation, Buttemere, or Nar Duell and having IM Lynne she can invite you in and….

Ultimately I am sure this is all a bit of a lark and possibly interesting after all Second life has become a hot new virtual rage for marketing product. It has an interesting development history that started with artist designer game develop types it present a way of live interactive gaming and so of course was pick up by retailers so having visual artist rethinking it seems to be a natural return. Lynne Heller has been a working website designer for a number of years and has technical skills for days. The Secondlife downloadable software provides a specific cut and past approach to designing so it is accessible for those of us with less technical skill. Above I said I was sure it would be interesting because I ran into a bit of a technical hick up because my monitor is so old. OH well moving on

mattress fragment Carl Stewart web project "Fragment from a Discarded Civilization"

The Textile Museum of Canada launched a new website on November 28th Digital Threads presents five interactive “web projects” or “digital artworks by Jennifer Angus, Joanna Berzowska, Kai Chan, Ruth Scheuing and Samuel Thomas. Before commenting on these I thought I would show / direct you to a few digital artworks by other artist featuring textiles. Carl Stewart a weaver who was part of the Dark Cloth exhibition at the TMC in 2004 (May-October), has had a project on line at a site called Art Engine. Fragments from a Discarded Civilization created in 1997 is a combination of story telling, navigation and images of mattress scraps salvaged from alley ways around Ottawa. It is a simple yet disturbing look at our throw away society, buried in the site is a charming and revealing short story, you just come across it in much the same way you can suddenly notice a beautiful piece of cloth in a pile of trash.

Arlene Stamps Modern Mother which is the third work in a series called Mum Tapes and was developed in collaboration with Shelly Ouellette and was part of an exhibition called Ordinatrices/ Computers which took place at La Central in Montreal in 1999. Using images of Closest Interior as a gateway to what is primarily an audio project using audio tapes of Arlene’s 80 year old mother told to her last visit in 1995. Modern Mother is the first work to include segments of the original audio tapes in which Mary Smith's highly expressive speaking voice adds an important dimension to her stories. Modern Mother is on-line art a Calgary based web site Vanity Gallery.

Digital Threads is an interactive Web environment that highlights new digital artworks by Canadian artists Jennifer Angus, Joanna Berzowska, Kai Chan, Ruth Scheuing and Samuel Thomas. Internationally known for innovative work that challenges the boundaries of conventional textile arts, these five artists define new territory for themselves on the World Wide Web with these projects. The site is multi functional in that while presenting the web projects, each one also has 10 previous TMC exhibitions linked to it. Seen as an addition to their Canadian Tapestry: The Fabric of Cultural Diversity site there is now an opportunity to see an other portion of the museums permanent collection along with curatorial information.

With the launch of this site I have been reminded that the main site for the Textile Museum of Canada is full of hidden treasure. For example Colour and Light embroidery from Pakistan and India that ran this past January through June received sponsorship to enable the entire exhibition to be posted on-line. There are also on-line the Cloth and Clay a joint exhibition with the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics (2002) and Wildlife a Field guide to the Post Natural .(2000) and most importantly the third link down on the sidebar menu is the Collection Online link.

The on-line collection has a Zoom function that brings you so close in on the work you can see the stitch, structure/ construction. While looking at an object you are the following information: for example Object: Temple hanging. Local Name: Kalamkari, Place Made: Asia: South Asia, India, Southeast India, Andhra Pradesh, Date: 19th century; Dimensions: 387 cm x 320 cm
Materials: Cotton, Techniques: Plain woven; painted, ID number and the name of the Donor. What you are not given is an Exhibition History which could like to a press release/ curatorial statement, and whether are not it has been published in a Catalogue {not that they publish one for every show, which is more the pity)

As far as the Digital Threads are concerned take a look at them and see what you think. Personally I like Jennifer Angus’ Nature, The Environment and Weird Materials. She has used this project to add yet another chapter to the life of fictional eccentric traveler and collector. She has produced and elegant event where the physicality of manipulating the function/ action feels graceful. Explore the other four “projects” and while you’re at it if you have really looked at all that the Textile Museum of Canada has to offer on line and you can’t help but be impressed.

Talk about digital threads when you are looking at a Sujuni wall hanging from India and you can see every embroidery stitch in sharp relief.

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