Art traditionally involves a physical product such as a painting or sculpture, making it only accessible to those who can physically experience it, but EMMEDIA’s PARTICLE + WAVE show explores media art pieces that can be shared easily, allowing for a much wider audience.

During a snowy Saturday night, a group of Calgary creatives gathered in Inglewood’s Festival Hall for the final instalment of PARTICLE + WAVE, a three-day digital arts festival that ran at the beginning of February.

PARTICLE + WAVE’s feature night had four different artists exploring many aspects of media arts.

Vicki Chau, a programming director at EMMEDIA Gallery and Production Society, says media art is meant to be more accessible in a digital world and doesn’t face the restrictions of physical art. Photo by Anosha Khan.

Vicki Chau, a programming director at EMMEDIA Gallery and Production Society explains what makes up the event.

“The things that are really touched on is video, audio, web, electronics or robotics, projections and live AV performances.”

Since digital art is relatively new, many people are unfamiliar with what it is.

Chau says that digital art can be defined as, “Anything that has some sort of electrical current running through it.”

“People may not understand as well as if they go to another contemporary art gallery where they see paintings and photography and sculptures,” she says.

Traditional art is more commonly found in museums and art galleries, however digital art is becoming the new popular medium for art.

“It’s using a lot of technology that people see in their own homes, like TV monitors and instruments – Platforms that they recognize like YouTube and Instagram,” says Chau, explaining its appeal.

Mat Lindenberg, a digital artist and ACAD graduate whose piece Enterface was displayed at PARTICLE + WAVE’s feature night, enjoys having an idea in mind and using technology to execute it.

“I find it really fascinating when you code something and it sort of starts to do things on its own, based on the rules you create,” says Lindenberg.

Enterface is an interactive piece created by Mat Lindenberg in which the observer holds the power in a virtual world that is not bound by restrictions. It was performed as a lobby installation at Calgary’s Festival Hall during PARTICLE + WAVE’s feature night on Feb. 3. Photo by Anosha Khan.

His interactive art piece involved the projection of a digital figure. The piece mirrors the movement of a person who stands in front of the screen, taking up the space of someone who has their limbs spread out. This piece was created with the thought of having rules that don’t make any sense and guidelines, which are hidden in an animated universe.

“I wanted to make something that … would be funny to watch other people doing. I wanted to make it so that people were flailing around and everyone else can sort of watch them,” says Lindenberg.  

Accompanying Lindenberg was a piece titled Kept Progression by Aran Wilkinson-Blanc and Sabrina Naz, which began as a film about the rehearsing of a dance piece and used glitching to deconstruct the digital medium. It ended with a live performance featuring three dancers in contemporary street fashion, moving to upbeat music.

There was also an audio presentation, Radio Therapy, by Montreal’s Martin Rodriguez. It explained a journey, which begins with sounds of an MRI, leading to his healing from a cancerous brain tumour through the use of audio and accompanying visuals.

Montreal based Martin Rodriguez performs his piece Radio Therapy at Festival Hall for PARTICLE + WAVE’s feature night on Feb. 3 at 9:15 pm. A soundscape inspired by his recovery from a cancerous brain tumour is accompanied by corresponding visual elements. Photo by Anosha Khan.

While technology is what sets media art apart from traditional formats, it doesn’t come without its challenges.

Sydney Southam, who was part of Lauren Marsden’s The Channelers: A Group Exhibition, compares the advantages and drawbacks of being a media artist.

“On the one hand, it’s easy to get it out to people, but you’re always contending with equipment and technology failures,” she says.  

“Every time you present it, it looks slightly different. It ends up being out of your control a lot of the time.”

But it’s that same technology that allows this kind of art to reach wide audiences.

Chau explains that, for international artists, submitting their work is as simple as sending in a digital file.Every year, EMMEDIA sends out a call for submissions, and they garner interest from artists around the world.

“It’s using a lot of technology that people see in their own homes, like TV monitors and instruments. Platforms that they recognize like YouTube and Instagram.” –Vicki Chau

“It’s so much easier than say, ‘I need to bring this six foot sculpture to your gallery and I need to be there because I need to put it up,’” says Chau.

“It’s kind of nice to celebrate the artists here locally, but then also being able to share work that’s being produced outside so we’re not so insular.”

Whether it’s from an experienced artist or an average person, Chau says PARTICLE + WAVE introduces the many facets of media arts.

“There’s something about a festival that’s very celebratory and accessible for people that might be intimidated by a contemporary art gallery,” she says, “There’s definitely something for everyone in this festival.”

Overall, the event aims to showcase the ever-changing technologies that artists use in creative ways.

It also hopes to bring media arts to the general public’s attention, leading to a greater appreciation for the craft.  

The Channelers: A Group Exhibition is running at the EMMEDIA gallery until March 3 and a performative lecture called DeepBeing.zip is taking place that same day.

Even though PARTICLE + WAVE only runs for three days, EMMEDIA is open year-round, with free screenings and exhibitions that are available to the public.  

akhan@cjournal.ca 

ashirt@cjournal.ca

Editor: Sarah Kirk | skirk@cjournal.ca