At a time when cyberspace is still being mapped out, this exhibition profiles seven Web-based projects by Québec artists who are investigating concepts of “place” on the Internet. Artist Yan Breuleux compares the evolving “geography” on the internet to the growth of a new continent, where questions of power, difference, negotiation, and points of access come into play. In Histoires sans fin (Never-ending History), Breuleux culls pictograms from early video games as well as graphic signs whose meanings are recognizable across borders and by different cultures. The resulting piece acts as a critique of consumerism and homogeneity, particularly in relation to the on-going expansion of North American capitalism.
Several artists look at the ways in which notions of architectural space are affected by the relationship between physical and virtual location. Green, by the Æ collective (Gisèle Trudel and Stéphane Claude), pays homage to the work of visionary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, creator of New York City’s Central Park and Montréal’s Mont-Royal Park. Green takes the form of a science-fiction eco-architectural game, inviting players to create their own virtual spaces on Montréal’s rooftops. Johnny Ranger and Bill Sullivan’s Everywhere/tout par tout questions the place of the individual and how identity changes through the shifting contexts of real and fabricated environments. In this work, the artists place themselves within a multitude of sound and image-scapes in which the viewer can participate. Brad Todd’s Utopia PKWY takes Joseph Cornell’s house (Utopia Parkway, Queens, New York) as a motif, and transforms it into a Web-based multimedia collage that evokes Cornell’s own signature boxes. In the main gallery space, the installation by the architectural collective Atelier “in situ” (Annie Lebel and Stéphane Pratte) has as its central motif New York City’s measured urban grid. Within this grid, the New Museum and the viewer are featured in a series of spatial and temporal transpositions that echo the experience of displacement on the Web.
Inspired by the ubiquitous rest areas on North American highways, Tobin’s Restarea is a “stop” in cyberspace where the viewer can only wait, not interact. By forcing this paralysis on the viewer, Restarea exaggerates the temporal experience of Web navigation. In contrast, the Silophone project by [The User] (Thomas McIntosh and Emanuel Madan) transforms an emblematic industrial Montréal silo into an interactive musical instrument that can be played at a distance via telephone lines and the Web. When players speak, make sounds on the telephone, or send digital sound via a computer, their voices/sounds are altered by the silo and transmitted back to them through the Web.
This exhibition is organized by independent curators Valérie Lamontagne and Sylvie Parent as part of the Québec New York 2001 cultural event (13.sep - 07.oct in venues throughout the city.) An online catalogue of the Location/Dislocation exhibition, www.deplacement.qc.ca, is on view in the Media Z Lounge.