Presenter Biographies/Abstracts

“Visualising HIV: The Virus and the Immune System in Biomedia Art”
Braden Scott (Concordia University)

Artists Luke Jerram and Tagny Duff have produced methods of not only engaging with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) as a misrepresented and negatively associated organism, but have exposed the lack of awareness when it comes to the cultural understanding of the virus. Methods of representing and understanding microbiology require a virtual visualisation of microorganisms that are living within the human body, our bodies. Along with Kathy High, who through biotechnology has devised an art-game with white blood cells, HIV and the immune system are brought into the visual realm. Incorporating an ocular experience that induces a phenomenological understanding of one’s self in relation to microorganisms and the body, an affective response to HIV as a tangible object is made possible.

Braden Scott is in his third and final year as an undergraduate student in art history and sexuality at Concordia University, Montréal. Aside from being infatuated with ancient and contemporary works of art, his main focus considers aspects of identity, aesthetics, and politics of spectatorship in visual cultures.

“Ecology: Recycled Landscapes.”
Romina Cameron (Concordia University)

Abstract TBD

I am a second year student studying Art History and Film Studies. The study of Canadian art is one that has interested me greatly and during my two years here at Concordia I have learned much about our nations artists. There is art beyond the Group of Seven here in Canada and I feel it is important to expose audiences to this idea. The issue of ecological devastation is one that has interested me greatly as it effects not only myself but the entire world. This essay discusses these issues while incorporating artists who share my concern. Each artist interprets ecological devastation in a distinct way while succeeding in raising awareness among their audiences.

“The Institute for Figuring’s Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef: Accessibility to Knowledge Through Play and Hybrid Methods of Learning.”
Jennifer Aedy (Concordia University)

It is commonly thought that when someone studies art that they cannot or do not want to apply themselves in math and vice versa. These two realms of learning are thought of as completely separate, with seemingly rare occasions for the two ever needing to cross ideas. Evidently, combining art with various fields such as math and science allows for crossover of ideas to occur, resulting in expansion of and greater accessibility to knowledge. The Institute For Figuring (IFF) encourages learning through playing and learning with physical art objects such as those made from crochet, for a greater availability of knowledge on complex topics such as hyperbolic geometry and coral reef decay. The following will explore an expansion of shared knowledge and accessibility to learning, specifically between mathematics and art, using crochet. There will be a brief description of Euclid’s geometric theories, the discovery of hyperbolic geometry and how it lead to a brilliant discovery by mathematician Daina Taimina using crochet. Taimina’s discovery inspired a project at the Institute For Figuring, whose mission involves learning through play. The research of Freidrich Froebel, Jean Piaget and Seymour Papert will prove relevant to accessible learning and teaching methods and sharing ideas through play.

Jennifer Aedy is a multimedia artist studying at Concordia who has appreciated both the historical and the creative sides of art during her education. She enjoys expressing her own stories through print media, combining traditional processes such as lithography, intaglio and woodcut with her own contemporary thoughts and ideas. There have been a variety of great Art History classes offered at Concordia and Jennifer has had the opportunity to take part in quite a few; from Ancient Roman art to Contemporary Technology art, Postcolonial studies to Photography.
Jennifer loves to take any and every opportunity to travel abroad, expanding her horizons and being inspired by different art forms and varying cultures around the globe. In her spare time, she loves to read, cook, bake, travel, swim and create in whatever ways possible!

“Polygons and Perception: Creating Meaningful Encounters with 3D Models and Computer Interfaces.”
Steph Caskenette (University of Guelph)

While digital objects are considered immaterial, the labels applied to them reference real objects and tools in order for a novice computer user to create a connection to the space beyond their monitor. As such, digital 3D models often gain acceptance when translated into a physical form through 3D printing technology, but for those that remain in cyberspace, they can be seen as incomplete. This paper considers the development of the computer interface, screen theory, and digital literacy and questions the usefulness of the real life associations made in order to create logical connections with data. By investigating the metaphors given to digital objects, software and concepts, such as windows, digital imaging tools and cameras respectively, it is argued that a new vocabulary is needed to describe our encounter with the digital other.

Steph Caskenette is a fourth year art history student at the University of Guelph with an interest in digital humanities and game studies. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching herself game development languages and tools in order to discover new methods of digital play and interactivity.

“The Robotic Action Painter as Artist.”
Alexandrine Capolla Beauregard (Concordia University)

This paper looks at Leonel Moura’s innovative piece in the field of Robotic Art, the RAP (Robotic Action Painter). As an autonomous robot capable of starting and finishing abstract paintings with appreciable visual qualities, the Robotic Action Painter is meant to be seen as a work of art in itself, but also as an independent artist, despite its obvious inability to feel or conceive “inspiration.” The works the RAP generates are in fact the results of randomization and of strict adherence to a set of predetermined rules concerning its course of action when faced with certain patterns and colors. Because of this, one may wonder if such a “painter” can actually be called an artist. In other words, is it really “art?” The RAP creates pieces of its own, which indeed seem to bear the potential to be as valid in their artistic value as paintings done by a human hand. Such an issue will be discussed in this research paper, touching on themes such as the artist’s identity, artificial intelligence, and the process of creation.

“The Fame-Whore and the Cam-Whore: Representations of Female Presence on Screen Through the Eyes of Contemporary Artist Anne Hirsch.”
Madelyne Beckles (Concordia University)

Women have a history of problematic and negative representation on the screen, since the beginning of mainstream cinema to the current era of reality television shows, female stereotypes continue to be legitimized to us through corporate media. Even further, the corporate presence on the internet in the current day has aided in our skewed  vision of women. While women have the opportunity to project their identity and combat these false constructions in ‘democratic’ cyberspace and more specifically, social networking sites, they end up mirroring the images of women that corporate media entrenches us with creating a vicious cycle of an over-sexualized and imagined female identity on the screen. Ann Hirsch is an artist  who acknowledges the fact that we live in an age where the screen basically controls the western world, and chooses to respond to the effect this has on girls and women in our western society. This paper will explore two of Hirsch’s projects in relation to aspects of the female on screen: A Basement Affair from 2009 where Hirsch explores women’s presence on the reality television screen and the notion of ‘fame-whores’, and Scandalishious from 2008-2009 where Hirsch explores the notion of the ‘cam-whore’ in relation to women on the internet and social networking sites.

Madelyne Beckles is a 21 year old Artist From Toronto currently working on a B.A. in Art History with a minor in Women’s Studies.

“Ryoji Ikeda: test pattern and the Comfortably Numb.”
Emma Sise (Concordia University)

This critical analysis of Ryoji Ikeda’s test pattern performance series integrates the writer’s personal experience watching one of test pattern’s manifestations in 2012. Ikeda’s approach to video- and sound-based art employs haptic cinema techniques in tandem with highly charged industrial noise in order to shape vast amounts of raw data and information into events that play with the viewers’ sense perceptions. By allowing for a space that simultaneously holds similarities to a dance party and a gothic cathedral, Ikeda provides us with a tangible, physical understanding of our present experience with technology; MacLuhan’s promise of technological numbness in the face of the information and post-information age is explored brutally, reminding us that though our collective consciousness is expanding, our physical bodies remain an essential variable of our grasp on reality.

Emma Sise is a 3rd year Fibres and Material Practices Major and Art History Minor. Her art practice is currently focused on weaving as metaphor for the process of memory in relation to image culture and pictorial complexity.

“From Ephemeral to Viral to Profitable: The Commodification of Montréal Graffiti”
Kelly O’Brien (Independent Scholar/Fordham University)

Street artists and graffiti writers call it “taking space”: the act of illegally putting one’s tag or image up on a public wall. However, in our Internet age the space taken now belongs to that of street artists themselves: often, their work is used in national advertising campaigns, without permission or compensation. These trends have been tracked from Melbourne to New York, and Montréal is no exception. The unauthorized usage of artwork by Chevrolet Canada in 2011 and the willing participation of artists in the corporate-sponsored MURAL Festival indicate a transformative shift away from the city’s DIY aesthetic and a commercial art market. However, not all members of the community are party to this progressive commodification: local artist Earth Crusher appropriates the style and jargon of corporate culture as a postmodern critique—or, in his words, “maximizes the overall return to his shareholders by controlling and dominating all life on the planet.” This paper thus seeks to explore the relationship between the artist and the public, particularly when mediated by a corporate sponsor. Using a survey of the history of commodification with respect to graffiti and street art, I analyze the dichotomy between taking space and taking credit. Ultimately, I am hopeful for the medium’s future, a future where artists will be paid and/or sponsored for work they do, enabling them to exercise free speech both on the canvas and on illegal walls.

Kelly Marie O’Brien is a U.S. Fulbright Student conducting independent research in the Fine Arts Department at Concordia. Her research is two-fold; she is studying the relationship between graffiti and advertising in Montréal, specifically on the 2011 controversy between Chevrolet Canada and the Under Pressure festival, and continuing work on her senior thesis on (anti)feminist attitudes in graffiti and street art. Kelly graduated summa cum laude with a BA in cursu honorum in American Studies from Fordham University in 2013. In her spare time, she works with the Pas de Panique theatre company and the Fresh Paint Gallery in Montréal.

“The Archive, the Club, and the Web: Bear Witness’s Acts of Decolonization.”
Katerina Korola (Concordia University)

In claiming control over technologies of representation, indigenous film and video artists have been forerunners in a worldwide struggle to decolonize the archives, codes, and sites of representation. Bear Witness (Bear Thomas), both an independent media artist and member of the award-winning Aboriginal DJ collective A Tribe Called Red (ATCR), is one such artist. For Witness, the digitized archive of visual and acoustic representations of indigenous peoples becomes the raw material for new forms of affirmative expression. This paper examines Witness’s practice as a multi-pronged act of decolonization, which operates both on the level of content and on the level of exhibition. First, on the level of content, Witness’s artistic practice decolonizes the archive by reclaiming stereotypical representations of indigenous peoples as sources of affirmation. The hybrid nature of his work, however, part video art and part music video, itself represents an act of decolonization that challenges the traditional Western art historical division between art and popular culture. Witness not only brings popular culture to the museum, but also, through his work with ATCR and his media presence online, brings art into the realm of popular culture and the everyday. By examining both the content and exhibitionary strategies utilized by the artist, this paper argues that Witness’s practice not only decolonizes the archive, but also allows for the creation of decolonized sites of reception, wherein the political is acted upon at the level of the proto-political.

Katerina Korola is a senior undergraduate student pursuing a joint Major in Art History and Film Studies. Her research interests include travel narratives, spatial theory and architecture, and moving image exhibition. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History, where she has served as an executive for the past two years, and in her free time enjoys indulging in creative writing.

“Le medium photographique en rapport à sa technique, ou le digitale hypermoderne du cas Abu Ghraib”
Catherine Bergeron (Concordia University)

En 2004, le scandale des photographies ayant été prises par des soldats à la prison d’Abu Ghraib en Iraq s’est imposé comme une première éthique et médiatique dans l’histoire de la photographie. Le nouveau rapport à la récente invention de la technologie digitale a fait que le cas Abu Ghraib s’est imposé comme une réalité contemporaine, voire hypermoderne, intrinsèquement liée à la société mondiale actuelle. Les photographies d’Abu Ghraib se placent comme l’exemple de cette nouvelle étape photographique ayant créé une rupture profonde avec la photographie analogique. À travers l’analyse de trois photographies prises par des soldats à Abu Ghraib, l’auteur démontre qu’un rapport véritablement nouveau à l’image et à la représentation se révèle dans le contexte significatif d’une ère marquée par une virtualité profondément hypermoderne. L’impact de cette nouvelle ère du Web, rendant impossible toute sphère du privé, a, de plus, participé au cas Abu Ghraib autant par la transmission directe et globale des données informatiques que par la création perverse d’une relation fantasmatique sadomasochiste à traversles actes photographiques présentés.

L’auteur poursuit présentement un BFA en photographie à l’Université Concordia. Elle a précédemment complété un baccalauréat en cinéma et en littérature à l’Université de Montréal, avec une spécialisation en écriture de scénario et création littéraire.

“Problems with Digitizing Propaganda: Memory, Experience, and Power”
Sarah Danruo Wang (University of Toronto)

This paper aims to look at the problem with digitizing contemporary propaganda art. Four cases will be analyzed: the propaganda murals of post-revolutionary Islamic Republic of Iran, the segregationist murals of Belfast, the “Chorus” of the British Library “Propaganda: Power and Persuasion” exhibition from May to September 2013, and the upcoming traveling installation of “Les Archives du Coeur” by Christian Boltanski in Riga for January to April 2014. The theme of digitization and recording of historical memory will be analyzed through concepts of historical legacy of martyrdom, the expanded gaze, expansion or limitation of travel/tourism, and the didactic nature of murals. The theme of exhibition and engagement will look at concepts such as direct and prolonged audience engagement, permanence, exhibition of the intimate, and detachment of the person, place, and the political. Through the various methods of digitization, audiences or “propaganda consumers” are eroded with the state or “propaganda producers”, so that collective memory and authenticity of experience are obscured.

Sarah Danruo Wang is completing her fourth year at the University of Toronto studying international relations, fine art history, and philosophy. Prior to commencing her studies in Toronto, she lived in Vancouver, California, Ottawa, and Beijing. This year she is the Co-Director of Compliance Studies at the G8 Research Group, Editor-in-Chief of The Attaché Journal of International Affairs of the International Relations Programme, and co-Editor-in-Chief of Society and Its Transformations of the Department of Sociology. She previously worked for the Atlantic Council of Canada as a Junior Research Fellow and has researched for the Department of History and Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include international relations of European integration, Baltic history, identity politics and transnationalism, art and foreign policy, and the philosophy of the Frankfurt School.