Sunday, June 14, 2009

Serendipity: Transmute, Modula and Paco Rabanne

Saturday June 13th became an interesting day when I turned on the TV and was presented with “Super stylist Sandra Pittana armed with vintage dresses from Paco Rabanne” on a repeat of Friday’s Cityline program on City TV. Having been give access to show this selection of 8 Couture and 2 ready to ware Chain mail creations from the enfant terrible of the French fashion world in the 1960s was part of the publicity to launch a new fragrance “1 Million” from Paco Rabanne. These dresses brought from the Paco Rabanne archives with an estimated value of a quarter of a million dollars are seldom seen in real life other then on the occasions when they made their first public appearance. It was an incredibly rare opportunity for the live audience, since if seen in public these dress are in Museum exhibitions such as “Aluminium by Design: Jewellery to Jets”, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York, Mar. 20-July 15, 2001. Seen on mannequins and if seen on the human body it is usually a photograph and seldom seen in motion unless on film (or TV). You can take a look at some of these “Mythical Dress” on the Designer’s Website (link below)

“Dancing by myself” by Lynn Heller live Saturday June 13, 2009

Oddly, mentioning these dresses first does lead directly to the new exhibitions that have open at the University of Toronto’s Art Centre. Transmute which was curated by Camille Turner, features two “mixed reality” projects that explore the economic and cultural intersection of Second Life and the bio-world. “Dancing by myself” by Lynn Heller and “No Matter” by Scott Kidall and Victoria Scott are part of the 2009 Subtle Technologies Festival and Modula: form – organization- ornament, is an exhibition of six recent computation projects from graduate students at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto. All of this work in a basic way is about 3 dimensional objects and how they function in space. They are also about methods of production and end usage. Paco Rabanne started his career in fashion by creating jewellery for Givenchy, Dior and Balenciaga working with metal was part of his skill set. After starting designing garments his understanding of metal alloys the strengths and stress points of geometric shapes he created unique variations of link and plate chain mail that drapes and clings to the female form like textiles of varying weights from silk organza to worsted wool.

“Dancing by myself” by Lynn Heller live Saturday June 13, 2009

As he work hand worked actual physical materials the artist and architecture students in the exhibitions at the U of T Arts Centre working in computer assisted technologies to produce both virtual the real objects. In the case of Lynn Heller’s “Dancing with Myself” she will be “attempting to invert the typical person/avatar paradigm. Nar Duell, her [proudly blond] avatar in Second Life, has been scripted to dance and interact.” Heller danced live with her avatar at intervals during the opening reception. It seemed she herself was the one reacting to the avatar rather then it responding to her either way it was an interesting experience and disconcerting. To watch both the projected and the live took effort, its was like being at a concert where the screen view is close up while the performer is almost secondary (yet some will complain if the singer is lip-syncing to pre-recorded tracks) Her SL avatar’s time based and Heller’s live performance have been combined and is now a projected loop.

Lynn Heller and Nar Duell,

Lynn Heller’s professional career brought her from dancer to visual artist working with textiles, she return to school to pursue and Arts degree and almost as a side line to finance her education, became a website designer and has an impressive CV of work for cultural organization, artist and a couple of bread makers. By graduate school at the School at the Chicago Arts Institute her involvement with computers was well established and using the more analytical systems rather the CAD to produce work she has moved into SL with a huge vocabulary to draw from. “Dancing with Myself” is a continuation or rather the next part of Really [this show is rented] at Redhead Gallery in Toronto Ontario Canada and online in a virtual world, The Heldscalla Foundation, Buttemere, Second Life, November 21, 2007 – December 15, 2007

There is a century long (if not longer history) of blending technology and performance presentation: lighting being used for more then illumination became through skilled manipulation an art form unto itself and used to great effect by modern dance pioneer Loie Fuller “With dramatic lighting, she could create fantastic, eva­nescent, suggestive shapes onstage by agitating swaths of silk from underneath with a pair of hand-held wands. Fuller was a born impresario with a gift for technical stagecraft. Whirling around on a glass platform, lit by as many as fourteen electric spotlights whose colors kept changing and blend­ing, she kept yards and yards of fabric billowing around her in three-dimensional evocations of flowers, butterflies, and flames”[i] She was captured in 1896 on film by theLumière brothers who shot and hand-coloured - frame by frame her Serpentine Dance.

By the late 1980’s and 90s performance artist like Laurie Anderson were working live with reactive and preprogrammed computer assisted elements. In 1993 computer analysis research into dance began and led to the development of LifeForms software, a computer program developed at Simon Fraser University, allowing for instantaneous long distance choreographing as well as animation, by using a computer screen with three visual components: a sequence editor, a stage and a timeline strip[ii]. With the development of Second Life (SL) developed by Linden Lab that was launched on June 23, 2003 being a password accessible virtual construction site and play ground artist have naturally found a new way to experiment inside. Heller like Kidall and Scott are now working inside and outside the computer with Second Life as a media rather then a location.

No Matter: Paper Tiger Maker/ Builder Avatar name Monn Laval, Cost for Build: (L) 3000 (US) $11.18, How long id it take 7 hours, Hourly wage )US) $1.60, Location Mexico City, Mexico, Real life Occupation Student, Website’ none

No Matter: Paper Tiger (2008), 12" x 4 " x 6 ", Paper sculpture, Inkjet Prints using Archival Paper

Scott Kidall and Victoria Scott are working from the inside out or so it seems. Virtual 3-D objects from SL have been translated into 2- D format, printed out and folded back into real 3-D paper objects. “No Matter” is web based project, “it is an installation of imaginary objects made both in Second Life and in physical space. No Matter reflects the tension between the SL virtual economy and real economics”. This is a very cool concept, 25 artist/ builders where commissioned to build 40 imaginary objects in SL, they are paid in SL money Linden dollars. The paper tiger piece designed by some one in Mexico averaged $ 1.60 Linden an hour, the Maltese flacon piece in the show was made by some one in the US at $ 2,79 Linden an hour, the Kryptonite made by yet another artist builder from Paris France worked at $14.90 Linden per hour. As you look through the website you find geographic “hourly wage” differences and final build cost that reflect that. It makes me wonder about out a price point that would included import export cost attached to a final point of sale. Through the magic of the computerized assisted alchemy of Kidall and Scott these virtual objects are brought to the physical world. There is a playful whimsy at work here as well as real look at the economics of production and chains of distribution. Go to the No Matter website as well as the exhibition if you can.

Moving into the room adjacent to No Matter you find Modula: Digital Explorations In Form, Organization And Ornament, exhibition curated by Tom Bessai Assistant Professor at John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto. The six computation projects provide yet another look at objects in 3- dementional space.

“The projects exhibited here are not completed / finished works, nor are they strictly architectural in nature. Rather each project represents a conclusive moment within an ongoing collaborative research investigation amongst students, student teams and design faculty. The following objectives are common to the project work presented in MODULA:

>To theorize and experiment with computation techniques in the context of architectural design. Techniques include digital modeling, scripting, parametric modeling and time-based digital simulation
>To explore concepts and techniques for spatial subdivision and differentiation
>To investigate emergent properties and characteristics in computationally defined systems
>To create 2-dimnensional and 3-dimensional representations, diagrams and fabricated mock-ups of computationally generated design schema

Antlia - Christian Joakim,
Packing - Gavin Berman, Holly Jordan, David Long,
Responsive Array - Nathaniel Addison, Jonathan Cummings, Safora Khoylou, Mani Mani, Inside Outside - Fei Liang,
Paired Surfaces - Emily Lin, Scott Ling, Neu-Wa O’Neill,
Hex - James Dixon, Peter Odegaard, Valerie Tam
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[ii]This computer loves to dance”: author: Wyman, Mark Publisher: The New York Times Company, Publication Name: The New York Times, Subject: News, opinion and commentary, ISSN: 0362-4331, Year: 1993


Websites Connected to this story:

Paco Rabanne

University of Toronto Art Centre,

2009 Subtle Technologies Festival


Lynne Heller

Watch Lynne perform on line at

YouTube - video documentation:

Second Life SLURL - turn on streaming media please:

‘Dancing With Myself’ Credits

SL programming: Desdemona Enfield
Choreograpic coach: Karen Kaeja
Director of photography: Ben Matilaninen

Character Monition software

Victoria Scott.

Scott Kidall

no matter website:

Modula : John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto

Exhibition Design and Production by Vjosana Shkurti, Mae Shaban, Meng Tang

For your entertainment

Zero and One: Laurie Anderson performing live with the assistance of sound engineer Bob Bielecki from Home of the Brave

Wendy Toogood: A Nakusp Narrative

Mixed media collages documenting the artist's adaptation to a new community.

June 12 to July 26 2009

Tel: 250-365-3337


Narratives, an exhibition of cloth constructions and drawings by Wendy Toogood, includes work from three distinct phases of a career that spans four decades.
As the exhibition title suggests, Toogood has a story to tell – in fact she has many stories to tell and does so in Connect, A Nakusp Narrative and works from the Mexican Series. Her constructed cloth panels, small and large, hold images that speak of her participation in and observation of both the ordinary and exotic aspects of life.

As a central figure in much of her work, Toogood is the narrator of stories that include humour, sadness, seriousness, tragedy and happiness – stories that come to life in her machine and hand stitched, and carefully embellished, cloth constructions.

you can read a profile about Wendy Toogood in Artist profile : Wendy Toogood
fQ Volume 4 Issue 4/ Fall 2008


An exhibition of sculpture, new work June 18-21, 2009
Gladstone Hotel, 1214
Queen Street Toronto Opening Reception: Thursday, June 18, 7-10pm
Tour of Exhibition: Saturday, June 21, 2 pm

Gallery Hours
Thursday June 18: 1-10;
Friday, Saturday, June 19, 20: 10am - 9 pm;
Sunday June 21: 10 am - 4 pm

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