Projecting the future of art in EMMEDIA

By Вen Li

Digital Sugar is neither a traditional art show, nor a motion picture exhibition, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Described as an evening celebrating new media artists, the show at the EMMEDIA Gallery
and Production Society features digitally-produced and edited videos by various local students at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

"This presentation is composed as a medley of methods and practice of video and animation," says EMMEDIA Artistic Programming Director Michelle L. "There’ll be a little bit of everything."

What makes the show unique is its format. Instead of showing the 13 pieces on separate screens in a gallery-like setting, individual videos have been carefully edited into a larger one-hour long piece of art presented on a projection screen. The brilliant but considerate choreography of the clips carries the viewer on an engrossing visual and aural journey while compelling them to contemplate its meaning along the way.

"These new and exciting works from MDAT majors range in topics," says L. "Investigating cultural diversity, cultural transplantation, new views of technology, the exploration of mind and body and the deconstruction of the digital medium."

Beyond the masterful but obvious video and audio effects in most of the clips lie expressions of true artistic abilities both in form and function. A wonderful example of this is found in fourth-year Steven Harder’s "Herds of Marching Sheep," which superficially appears to be variations on channel 1.

"Precise merging of audio and visual elements [in] this animation creates a hypnotic dance out of television static, making what is normally avoided especially interesting," says Harder of "Sheep."

"Sheep" can be interpreted slightly differently though. Harder proficiently combines harmonious geometric forms and asymmetric imbalances with internal discord to form a message within a message. With random white noise representing the blank multimedia slate, "Sheep" claims that the artistic forms and techniques created for new media-represented by transforming boxes containing noise-allow much room for creativity and innovation, even independently of the media format itself.

"RGB" is another example of the artist and the art exceeding the medium.

"’RGB’ reduces the medium of video to its three most basic elements, red pixels, green pixels and blue pixels," describes fourth-year MDAT student Michael Pelletier. "By overlapping these basic elements in varying degrees, a large number of colour combinations can be seen. These combinations reveal the basic matter of images we see on television screens."

While the show is beautifully integrated as a whole, there is one possible drawback with the arrangement of the videos. The final composition, an untitled work by third-year Pavitra Wickramasinghe examining language and culture and the human condition, ends itself and ultimately the entire exhibition in a rather unexpected fashion, leaving the viewer wanting more. It worked.

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