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I Like It, But What Is It

April 24, 2014 - June 24, 2014

At first glance, any new form of art often begs the following quizzical question: “I like it, but what is it?” Yet when “Let Me Google That For You” is the frequent response in today’s networked culture, it’s worth exploring how the internet -- where visual art is seemingly lost in a flow of big data, and anyone can freely share and comment on online images -- has turned users into participants, and facilitated a nuanced understanding of art and image-making.

The Drake’s spring exhibition explores the reinvention of contemporary photography in this context. The show opens with a wall-based installation in the vestibule by Sheree Hovsepian, whose work brings together photography, sculpture, and installation. The installation’s combination of varied materials -- a draped piece of black fabric contrasts with a silver gelatin print -- comes from Hovespian’s self-described “photographic impulse,” demonstrating how artists have responded to the plethora of images available online with the photographic object.

In the lobby, Alicia Nauta transforms the chalkboard into an oversized xeroxed wallpaper project. Known for her collage, screenprinting and bookworks, Nauta’s installation references zine culture’s democratic and accessible photocopying techniques, a pre-internet form of cut and paste image-making, and pulls from a range of source materials, including computer graphic design manuals. In the cafe, two sets of work from Jordan Tate’s “Gamut Warning” series hang. Acknowledging the mismatch between the RGB colors seen on your screen versus a commercial printer’s CMYK, Tate contrasts scientific test tubes and slide holders with colour gradients, suggesting the layers of authorship and context involved in a photograph. A different response to colour gradients comes from Robert Canali, whose vivid photographic work hangs at the top of the lobby stairs, and is a combination of glitchy, digital experimentation but also the irregular patterns found on the shimmering surfaces of nature’s rock minerals.

Lastly, Joe Namy’s “Testify” literally focuses a camera lens on the internet’s social media-informed photographic culture. Capturing tourists shooting Las Vegas’s Bellagio fountain with their iPhones and iPads, the projected video work in the Drake’s back lobby reveals the distance our digital devices places us from our everyday experiences.

With thanks to the galleries that supported this exhibition: , Monique Meloche Gallery, Gallery 44, and Super Dakota.