This fall’s feature exhibit at Surrey Art Gallery focuses on six artists who make large images and environments “that question the limits of technology and nature.”
The Garden in the Machine art show, to open on Saturday, Sept. 21, celebrates the 20th anniversary of digital-art programming in the gallery’s TechLab.
The exhibit bridges the digital and natural worlds with art created by Faisal Anwar, Helma Sawatzky, Leila Sujir, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Paisley Smith and Robert Youds.
In Data Mulch, Surrey-based artist Sawatzky digitally stitches together dozens of photographs of a brimming compost bin at Granville Island Public Market.
Anwar’s interactive video CharBagh uses social media to generate a Persian-style Islamic garden. The artwork grew out of Anwar’s workshops with Surrey residents who took photos related to sustainable food production, climate change and nature. A variation will play on Surrey’s UrbanScreen this fall, at Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre (13458 107A Ave.).
In For Everyone a Fountain, Youds uses computer software to translate photographs of Victoria’s Butchart Gardens into coloured light sequences spanning the four seasons. “These images appear in a tower of gleaming metal building and office materials,” says a release from SAG. “Youds creates a compelling space that collapses the boundaries between architecture and nature, work and leisure, image and object, utopia and dystopia.”
For Unceded Territories, Smith teams with Yuxweluptun to create a virtual-reality game that invites participants to move through different natural landscapes inspired by Yuxweluptun’s paintings of colonization in B.C. “As people play the game, their presence leads to sinister consequences such as forest fires and oil spills,” according to the gallery release. The VR component of this installation is available for public viewing Thursdays between 3 and 7 p.m.
Meantime, Sujir’s Forest Breath highlights nature “as a space of spiritual connection and renewal that needs protection,” using stereoscopic 3D video to show a section of dense woodland on Canada’s West Coast.
Change, growth and mutation are at the centre of the exhibit, Surrey Art Gallery curator Jordan Strom noted.
“These themes connect to the evolution of our TechLab since its launch in 1999,” he said in a release. “This Surrey Art Gallery program has showcased experimental art practices from robotic drawing machines to aerial drone videos, interactive sculpture to new forms of virtual reality.
“We’re excited to honour this milestone with an exhibition that features several of Canada’s emerging and internationally recognized digital artists.”
The opening reception on Sept. 21 will feature a conversation with Anwar, Sujir and Youds, starting at 6:30 p.m. at 13750 88th Ave., Bear Creek Park.
Garden in the Machine will be shown at the gallery until Dec. 15. An informal tour of the exhibit led by Strom is planned for Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. Also, on the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 26, Yuxweluptun and Smith will discuss their virtual-reality collaboration during a free talk, where attendees can explore Unceded Territories before and after the event.