Category: Exhibitions & Publications (Page 1 of 6)

Live Drone and Light Projects

Elastic Spaces’ member Anthony Head from the University of Dundee, has been part of these exciting projects using live drone technology, one for GreenPeace and the other for the Amnesty International 60th Anniversary. See links below!

“For the first time, 300 illuminated drones and light projections have been used to create breathtaking 3D moving images of iconic animals. The animals travel from all corners of the world and are seen descending on Cornwall, demanding that the world leaders at the G7 ‘ACT NOW’ to tackle the climate and nature crisis”.

“The aim of the project was to use Celestial’s creative technology combined with immersive cinematic photography, music and poetry, to tell a profound story of connection and solidarity, inspiring new audiences to stand up for universal human rights.”.

Congratulations to Haema Sivanesan!

The Glenbow Museum in Calgary, AB has recently announced that Haema Sivanesan has joined the museum as Chief Curator. Sivanesan has extensive experience across a range of sectors in the visual arts in Canada and abroad, most recently serving as a Curator at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (2015-2021).

Camouflaged Screams at Optica- Centre D’art Contemporain

MFA alumni and current Elastic Spaces’ visiting scholar, Santiago Tavera, along his collaborator, Laura Acosta (MFA alumni) are currently exhibiting their new work, The Novels of Elsgüer (Episode 4); Camouflaged Screams at OPTICA – Centre D’art Contemporain in Montreal.

Exhibition : April 17th – June 12th, 2021

Episode 4: Camouflaged Screams is is an interactive installation exploring the (a)symbiotic relationship between humans and the natural environment. This augmented experience incorporates large scale panoramic video projections of a recorded performance with textile pieces, along with motion sensors, enveloping soundscapes, lighting setups and sculptural elements. As the audience moves around the installation, their movements have the capacity to alter the images and sounds in the space, asking viewers to reflect on how their presence and actions have a direct effect on the environments that surround them. This project was done with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Elastic Spaces lab at Concordia University.

Click here for the Press Release text by Shauna Janssen, Associate Professor from the Theatre Department at Concordia University.

The Journal of Transcultural Studies


By Haema Sivanesan (Author)


Published: 2021-03-05

Issue: Vol. 11 No. 2 (2020)


Leila Sujir’s ongoing stereoscopic 3D and Virtual Reality media art project, Forest! is situated in the old growth rainforests of the South Walbran Valley of Vancouver Island, on the traditional and ancestral lands of the Pacheedaht First Nation. Taking place more than a century and a half since the settling of Vancouver Island by British colonizers, which was soon followed by successive waves of immigration by Chinese, Japanese, South Asian, and other laborers, Sujir’s project comes up against the effects and consequences of settler colonialism in the forests of Vancouver Island, and reveals the complexities and paradoxes of Canada’s mandate for (re)conciliation with Indigenous peoples.

This paper explores Sujir’s process of artistic collaboration, works with a range of Indigenous, community, and artworld stakeholders, and draws on a heuristic methodology to navigate complex community and inter-racial dynamics. Sujir adopts a methodology of person-to-person conciliation as a means to mitigate Indigenous–settler tensions, developing this approach into a methodology of friendship as a means by which to secure a transparent working process that is accountable to the Pacheedaht First Nation. This in turn enables the artist to develop new transcultural understandings and a new picturing of the forest. This paper closely examines Sujir’s process in the development of two works—Forest Breath (2018) and Aerial (2019)—detailing both the difficulty and the importance of artistic collaboration in working towards an ideology of (re)conciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Reblog: Art, Culture, and Healing the World: A Conversation with Haema Sivanesan

By Raymond Lam | Buddhistdoor Global  |  2021-02-01 

Direct Link to Article

Driftwood (Heart Sutra). Tsai, Charwei. 2019.
Photo by Laura Gildner

Haema Sivanesan is a curator at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV), British Columbia. She has held leadership and curatorial positions in public galleries and visual art centers across Canada, as well as in Australia and South Asia. Her curatorial work typically focuses on art from South and Southeast Asia and its diasporas, with an interest in non-Western post-colonial and trans-national histories, world views, and practices. Recent exhibitions include: Imagining Fusang: Exploring Chinese and Indigenous Encounters (2019), Fiona Tan: Ascent (2019)and Supernatural: Art, Technology and the Forest (2018).

In 2018, Sivanesan was a recipient of an Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York, Curatorial Research Fellowship (2018–19); and in 2016, she was a recipient of a Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, Hong Kong, multi-year research and exhibition development grant for the project In the Present Moment: Buddhism, Contemporary Art and Social Practice (forthcoming). 

Buddhistdoor Global: How did you first become interested in the intersection between religion and art, and how did you find yourself working on spiritual themes in the secular context of a place like AGGV?

Haema Sivanesan: My background is in Asian art history, which requires a solid understanding of Asian religions, since a great deal of historical Asian art was commissioned for religious purposes. Prior to working at the AGGV, I had worked on a number of exhibition projects related to art and Buddhism. As a curator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales [Sydney, Australia] I worked on the major exhibition Buddha: Radiant Awakening, which opened in 2002. A few years later, I commissioned and curated a project titled دل كه سوز نوز ندارد, دل نيست (the heart that has no love/pain/generosity is not a heart), by artists Jayce Salloum [Canada] and Khadim Ali [Afghanistan/Pakistan/Australia], which opened at the Royal Ontario Museum [Toronto, Canada] in 2010 and subsequently toured internationally. This project looked at the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan by the Taliban in March 2001. The project considered the impact of this horrific event on the local Shia Muslim Hazara community, exploring how these monumental images shaped the distinctive Hazara identity.

With my current project, In the Present Moment: Buddhism Contemporary Art and Social Practice, I’ve found myself working on Buddhism in the context of contemporary art because I wanted to examine the impact of Asian ideas in the contemporary West; and also find a way to think about Asian cultures outside of the limiting frame of “geographic” art histories. The tendency to historicize and orientalize Asia and Asian cultures in Western museums can limit how we understand Asian cultures as vital social and political forces in the contemporary world. In my work, I have become interested in finding ways to explore this, to address a long history of Asian-North American cross-cultural encounter, and to update how we understand the concept of Asia.

<i>Rose Mirror Mandala</i>, Stathacos, Chrysanne. 2013. Photo by Matthias HerrmannRose Mirror Mandala, Stathacos, Chrysanne. 2013. Photo by Matthias Herrmann

BDGAny discussion would feel perhaps a bit out of touch without addressing the impact of COVID-19 on the art world. While the AGGV held a research convening from 25–27 October 2019, the exhibition’s exact date is not as certain as the upcoming book that you’re writing and editing. As a gallery curator and researcher, do you foresee any changes to the delivery of exhibits as they’re currently structured, or will things proceed as they used to with minor adjustments such as the compulsory use of face masks?

HS: The AGGV re-opened to the public relatively early, in May 2020, with strict COVID-19 safety protocols, and exhibitions drawn from the gallery’s permanent collection. But that said, there is a lot of uncertainty, especially for a project like this, which firstly requires the loan of art works from collections in the US, and which, secondly, looks at ideas of “social practice” in contemporary art. At this point in time, Canada’s border with the US remains closed; and social practice, which refers to collaborative or participatory forms of art, proves difficult given COVID-19. I have been using this lockdown period to revise and find ways to adapt some artists’ projects with relation to this exhibition, but the rest will need to be worked out once we know the state of things post-COVID. In the meantime, I have been focusing on a book that will accompany the exhibition. I’m very excited about the potential of the book, and the writers that I have been able to commission, including scholars, cultural theorists, and artists. 

Learning Diamond Sutra. Zheng, Michael. 2013.
Photo by Julia Baier

BDGYoure presently working on your curatorial thesis for the exhibition, which uncovers a long history of Buddhist influence in contemporary art in North America. Sutras such as the Avatamsaka, Vimalakirti Nirdesha, and the Diamond Sutra influenced several well-known artists in the West. Can you give a few of your favourite examples?

My research for this project has been very exciting, examining how Buddhism comprises a methodology of art practice. I have been very interested to understand how artists draw on their various art forms to explore Buddhist ideas—as a form of inquiry into various Buddhist concepts and teachings. These artists are not looking for ways to “illustrate” Buddhist teachings, but rather they use their art practice as a site where they can test ideas and verify their truth. So, artists’ expressions of Buddhist ideas are often quite personal, idiosyncratic, and perhaps misunderstood. In other words, the Buddhist underpinnings have been overlooked in mainstream discussions about their work. 

For example, the well known American experimental composer John Cage created his famous work 4’ 33” (1952) as a response to his study of the Avatamsaka Sutra, and the American art critic and writer, Kay Larson has written extensively on this in a book titled, Where the Heart Beats (The Penguin Press 2012)which provides an important perspective toward the understanding of this work. Or Yoko Ono’s well-known performance artwork called Cut Piece (1966), which drew on the Jataka story of the Hungry Tigress, illustrated at one of the shrines at the temple of Horyu-ji, [Nara, Japan] to express ideas of selflessness and pacifism. Or the Taiwan-based artist Charwei Tsai, who has spent 15 years making work concerned with the Heart Sutra with great international success. Or the Chinese-born, San Francisco-based artist Michael Zheng, who has been making work that is deeply informed by his mother’s practice of the southern tradition of Buddhism in China, and his own practice of a more syncretic, modern Buddhism. The Diamond Sutra and the Platform Sutra have been important in his work. Zheng has commented:

My first exposure to Buddhism was when I was very little, when my mother “found” a master for me. I didn’t know what that meant. The only thing she said was, “I found a master for you. He said you had 慧根 (Buddha-nature).” But I didn’t really understand and perhaps didn’t care. So I had no actual relationship with my master until after I came to the United States, and even then, the only connection that I had with him was when I sent money to him, because my mother told me to. That was very early on, and I had no real understanding of Buddhism at all. Now I can kinda [sic] guess what that was all about. It probably had to do with accumulating merit via giving. My own contact with Buddhism was more intellectual. It was actually after I became an artist, and it was almost contrary to how my mother practiced her Buddhism, which was more as a religion. For me, I came to Buddhism through scriptures like the Diamond Sutra and the Platform Sutra. And they remain two of the most important writings in my life. I keep going back to them because I always feel like I don’t really get it. Maybe it is because they have this expansive wisdom that encompasses a lot of things. My actual practice comes through Westernized versions of Buddhism, including yoga, meditation, and so on. These are the practices that I do daily. Buddhism came into my art through these practices of yoga and meditation and rumination on the scriptures. (Ch’an Buddhism, being the confluence of the Buddhism from India and the various traditions rooted in Chinese culture such as Taoism, influences me most directly.) So, the way it manifests in my art tends to have a meditative quality, and I try to consciously incorporate the form of meditation in my art.

 There are so many examples, even concerning art works that are very well known. Bringing an Asian cultural and theoretical perspective to the consideration of these works is important in order to have a more complete understanding of what some of these works are about.  

Learning Diamond Sutra. Zheng, Michael. 2013. 
Photo by Julia Baier

BDGThese artists work with Buddhist philosophy and concepts such as interdependence, causality, and oneness seem to blend with preoccupations of the Canadian experience, from colonization, immigration, and multiculturalism and First Nations life. What can Buddhist ideas contribute to the experience of Canadian statehood, culture, and literature?

HS: Unlike the US, Canada is a very secular society, and perhaps even a little nervous or anxious about spiritual, let alone religious, ideas having a place in contemporary art. So I am not sure that I have an easy answer to your question!

The AGGV hosted an artist-centred research convening in October 2019 to better understand artistic positions around some of these issues, and to consider why Buddhism has such a persistent influence in the practice of art. The responses and discussions were insightful and diverse. For example, the Toronto-based artist Chrysanne Stathacos talks about her introduction to Buddhism as coinciding with the death of her friends to AIDS in the 1990s, and how the Buddhist concept of impermanence gave her an important perspective. She reflects:

Looking back at my art practice . . . all the projects interlock with Buddhism, but it’s all based on the notion of understanding impermanence and understanding the feminine in Buddhism . . . it’s important to note that Buddhism came to me through a woman teacher. Not that I haven’t attended teachings by His Holiness, and not that I haven’t had male teachers, but I came to it from Jetsunma [Tenzin Palmo]. And that is also connected to my practice as an artist—being a feminist, and the exploration of the feminine through the work . . .

Or in another instance, the West Coast Indigenous (Coast Salish) artist, Qwul’thilum Dylan Thomas, says:

I started meditating, at first just for the mental health benefits, I tend to be a pretty anxious person by nature. So, I got into meditation and was enjoying the daily practice of observing my breath and eventually I wanted to go deeper with it, but I had this kind of aversion to religions. So at the start I avoided the Buddhist books, and I would only read the secular more contemporary books. Eventually I just started reading some of the Buddhist books and I realized really quickly that more than just soothing my anxiety; they dealt with real questions, like how to die peacefully and how to live a life with purpose. It went way deeper than my original meditation practice. So I ended up practicing with a local Zen Center for a bit, and I’ve practiced with a few other Sanghas through the years, more formally at times and less formally at other times, but I’ve continued to meditate almost every day since I started. It’s been a huge part of my life, I can’t imagine living without it now. Even when I am not as involved with a sangha, like at the moment, the philosophy guides me through, minute by minute.

Dharma Wheel, ink on paper. Qwul’thilum (Dylan Thomas), 2016.
Image courtesy of the artist

I asked Dylan how his study and practice of Buddhism sits alongside his Indigenous identity. He responded:

In regards to the community’s reaction to my Buddhist practice, nobody seems very interested in it at all. So I’m glad that it doesn’t evoke a negative response, but I don’t think I’ve inspired anyone to investigate Eastern thought.

On a philosophical level, I found that Buddhist and Salish worldviews compliment each other. . . . For example, in Zen, they use the concept of “Shin,” and Salish culture has the concept of “skwalawyun.” These words both roughly translated to “heart-mind” in English. Because the heart (emotions) and mind (logic) are seen as distinct in contemporary Western culture, they don’t have a word that encompasses both. And when I began exploring Tibetan Buddhism, some of the parallels were stunning. For example, their masked dances were remarkably similar to the types of dances here on the coast. These are just a couple parallels I’ve found in my experience with Buddhism.

Another Vancouver-based artist, Tomoyo Ihaya, discussed how she came to the practice of Buddhism in relation to her art:

I grew up in Japan around conservative Buddhist grandparents who belonged to a very particular sect of Buddhism that was more concerned with formally following customs and rituals than it was concerned with the teachings. . . . So, I actually rejected Buddhism, and it was not until I went to university in Tokyo that I learned that Eastern philosophies talk about “emptiness” and “sense of order,” that I started becoming more curious about the actual teachings. When I came to Canada in 1994 . . . I met a soul sister, who is still a wonderful artist, and she directed me to Dharma talks and meditations, where I started inquiring inside myself. . . . This friend also introduced me to meditation, and that’s when I encountered the teachings of Buddhism that were rooted in a transient nature, in loving-kindness, and in beliefs of past and future lives. All of this opened me up to new ideas about how to live. And as it is in Tibetan Buddhism, or in my practice of Mahayana, this friend introduced me to a way of being personal in prayer, to always include the words, “May we get enlightened, for the sake of all other beings.” It’s not about one person’s refuge, but a way of thinking of every sentient being, because we are all interconnected.

So, this has really helped me to make art, not only philosophically, but also in terms of an attitude, because there’s lots of competition, ego, and self-expression in art, and I didn’t feel comfortable to push myself as an artist because this competition didn’t feel good. So making art, along with learning all of this, really helped me to keep my mind rather sane.

So there are a very diverse range of positions. Each artist is reflecting on what Buddhist studies scholars describe as modern Buddhism, considering Buddhism as a form of practice having relevance for issues in the contemporary world. And what I am exploring has to do with the cultural expressions of modern Buddhism, which is prevalent in Canada. But I’m not sure that Buddhism has had an impact in terms of shaping national culture.   

Bodhi Tree, acrylic on canvas. Qwul’thilum (Dylan Thomas), 2016.
Image courtesy of the artist

That said, the Buddhist studies scholar Melissa Anne Marie Curley has discussed Canada’s artist-run culture in terms of Buddhist influences, describing some of its ideologies as “culturally Buddhist.” Curley refers to the work of artist collectives such as General Idea, Image Bank, and artists associated with Intermedia. Some members of these groups did in fact have Buddhist practices, although Curley’s essay does not necessarily get into that. However, she does refer to the influence of the French Fluxus artist Robert Filliou, who had a significant impact on the development of artist-run culture in Canada. In his artistic work, Filliou drew on the language of Zen, which has been widely commented upon, but he was a Dzogchen practitioner who found analogies between his practice of Buddhism and practice of art. He was interested in the analogy between art and Buddhist tantra. This wasn’t always explicit in the way that he talked about his artistic work, but a practitioner might recognize the correspondences, for example in his concept of the Eternal Network, which referred to a conceptual network of artists and creative practitioners as a means to activate a concept of inter-connection. The Eternal Network was an imaginative social architecture, a “mandala” we could say, in which each creative practitioner, absorbed in their own creative world, was concerned with processes of self and social transformation. The Eternal Network was as much real as it was illusory, as a “mind-object” perceptible through mind-transmission or telepathy, an analogy with the mind-direct practices of Dzogchen. 

What Buddhism contributed to avant-garde forms of visual art practice was the possibility of an alternate social vision that recognized the potential of art and creativity as a means and an end in itself. This refers to the non-dualism of art and life, but also the non-dualism of art and society, even the non-duality of art and Buddhism. To generalize, I would say that for Canadian artists, as with artists around the world engaged with Buddhism, art and Buddhism coincide as forms of practice concerned with self- and social- transformation. Artists consider themselves as having a role to play in actualizing the creative potential of society, but also a role to play in creatively actualizing the potential of society.<i>MA No.1 – The Space Between Objects</i> (<i>Mu/Wu</i>), Lam, Wong. 2019. Photo by Mei Wong” width=”715″ height=”533″><em>MA No.1 – The Space Between Objects</em> (<em>Mu/Wu</em>), Lam, Wong. 2019. Photo by Mei Wong</p>

<p><strong>BDG: Referring back to the AGGV’s research convening last October, one of the highlights of a keynote conversation between Suzanne Lacy and Jodie Evans was discussing </strong><strong>“culture jamming, peaceful troublemaking, service, and witnessing”</strong><strong> in a context where public and visual culture allow art, activism, and Buddhism to converge. For you, do activism and art inform Buddhist practice, or vice versa? Are they more of a three-way channel providing mutually reinforcing ideas?</strong></p>

<p><strong>HS</strong>: It’s definitely a three-way channel providing mutually reinforcing ideas. <a href=The conversation between Suzanne Lacy and Jodie Evans was very interesting as they have different but not entirely unrelated approaches to art, activism, and Buddhism, and I think this is in part to do with the US political context, where Buddhism has contributed to various forms of “disruptive” or “interruptive” protest towards issues such as race and civil rights, feminism, peace activism, and so on. This has a historical context related to the history and culture of protest in the US. But it is a little bit different in Canada, where this relationship between art, activism, and Buddhism tends to take a more personal form, as a kind of moral responsibility toward social change, so that personal change as expressed through art can be a catalyst for inter-personal change that may then impact on the social.

The Vancouver-based artist and educator Susan Stewart commented in relation to her own practice of art, activism and Buddhism:

When you start studying Dharma, in the beginning the whole first wheel of Dharma, the foundational teachings are about teaching you how to not cling to yourself and your ego. We cling with a tight fist, and one finger at a time they pry open, until our clinging lessens a little bit. You have to start with yourself in Buddhism. I did that for quite a long time and I was practicing and meditating on my own non-existence, on non-self, and the non-existence of my ego, and a contradiction starts popping up. How can I be happy when I’m empty, when I have no ego, when I have no self? Why would one make a truly existent artwork? There was a contradiction there because my understanding of art up until that point was that it was a “sign of self” at a certain point in your life. In my case I was an angry activist, so my signs were very political, but in my mind, they were still signs of myself.

I was having this contradictory experience of selflessness, egolessness, and emptiness, while dealing with art which was demanding presence, production, and action. During my foundational study of Buddhism, I couldn’t deal with the fact that art was always demanding something of me. Ten years later when I moved onto Mahayanathankfully I got that far, this opened up a crack of emptiness. When you get to that space, if you open up a little bit of emptiness within yourself, what starts to happen is that you get more in touch with your heart again. . . . For the next 10 years I started making art that didn’t even look like art. I don’t think it was even readable to people, it was incoherent and illegible as art, but for me I was entering back into art and into social practice—a stream that was coming onto the scene as a discourse and with which I felt aligned. I started reading a lot of social practice material . . . identified with Fluxus, with happenings, and with performance art. Then for the next 10 years, I took on projects that were invisible, but to me they were art projects.

Activism can take the form of quiet, sometimes solitary, interventionist gestures regarding, for example, how one chooses to live one’s life against the grain of dominant social values as a practice of living. Or it can provide a counterpoint, as in the case of a social practice/installation work by Vancouver-based artist Lam Wong, who has created a work titled MA No.1 – The Space Between Objects Mu/Wu, which reconsiders the form and symbolism of traditional Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies as social and performative intervention, as an antidote to the emotional and political charge of our time. In this case, the power of the work is in the artist’s capacity to situate or host a profound exchange between strangers in the midst of chaos, and for a moment to effect a moment of stillness, a glimpse of empty awareness.

Reblog: Behind the lens with Sunil Gupta

Meet the photographer who captures queer life around the world

January 25, 2021 | By Richard Burnett, BA 88

Subject reclining on a sofa dressed in a sari, gazing at the camera defiantly.

Sunil Gupta’s landmark career retrospective runs at The Photographers’ Gallery in London until February 21, 2021. | “Untitled #13,” 2008, from The New Pre-Raphaelites series, courtesy of Sunil Gupta and Hales Gallery, Stephen Bulger Gallery and Vadehra Art Gallery.

They say every picture tells a story, but Sunil Gupta, BComm 77, the revered gay Indian-Canadian photographer, changed the game when he failed to see his life reflected in visual media growing up.

portrait of Sunil Gupta siting beside a poster from a 1983 exhibition of his work. From Here to Eternity is the first major career retrospective of U.K.-based photographer Sunil Gupta, BComm 77.

Born in New Delhi in 1953, Gupta arrived in Montreal with his family in 1969, the year of the Stonewall Riots. He originally studied to become an accountant but opened many eyes — including his own — when he switched gears to become one of India’s best-known photographers.

Gupta embraced gay life in the heady days of 1970s gay liberation, moving to New York City in 1976 where he studied photography at the Parsons School of Design, then to London, United Kingdom, where he earned a master’s in photography at the Royal College of Art.

Gupta set out to break barriers with his socially-engaged work — his photographs can be found in collections around the world, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Tate in London, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and the National Gallery of Canada.

Gupta’s landmark career retrospective From Here to Eternity runs at The Photographers’ Gallery in London until February 21, 2021, before opening at the Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto in fall 2021.  

Sunil Gupta, BComm 77

“In this era of fake news, documenting our lives is more important than ever,” says the Concordia grad. | “India Gate,” 1987, from the Exiles series, courtesy of Sunil Gupta and Hales Gallery, Stephen Bulger Gallery and Vadehra Art Gallery.

What was it like being a queer teen in Montreal just after Stonewall?

Sunil Gupta: The main issue back then was coming out — and you started with your parents. So that’s what I did. I was 16 or 17, I was very young and very confident. I came home one day and announced it to them. We never really discussed it again but when I studied at Concordia’s Sir George Williams Campus, I shared a flat with my sister on Stanley Street and lived a very out existence in what used to be the Gay Village downtown. My apartment was popular with my gay friends because it was so central and my parents never made a fuss about it.

How did you deal with racism in a predominantly white queer community?

SG: It was very ethnically divided and full of European ethnicities. The groups were quite rigid. I didn’t have a group; it was just me. But I had embraced a very gay identity from the word go. It was much more useful to me at 17 to be gay than to be Indian.

How important is it for you to document queer life?

SG: In the mid-1980s I became very conscious that there were hardly any gay men of colour in visual media. They were not in art history. They weren’t in the academic world. They certainly were not in the photo world. There were almost never any gay men of colour appearing in centrefolds. This motivated me to portray queer people of colour in my work.

I also thought for years that my migration experience was about departure from India. I left a very complex, interesting place and arrived somewhere completely unknown. That’s what I’ve always been trying to excavate. What I’ve come to appreciate more recently is that my journey is really more about an arrival, more about landing in Canada where I found a new identity. That’s what’s really been my driving factor, what’s driven all the work and made me who I am.

Is photography still important?

SG: In this era of fake news, documenting our lives is more important than ever. I never tire of a good photo of an arresting moment. You can hang it on a wall and look at it again and again. That’s why I think people still love my “Christopher Street” and “Friends and Lovers: Coming Out in Montreal in the 1970s” series.

How did your time at Concordia help shape you?

SG: It was a positive experience that set a pattern that continues and is still relevant to my life: being a freelancer. I never had the luxury or the complacency of just going to school and not worrying about money. During school I either worked or studied part-time. But I have very good memories of Montreal.

Practices of Projection: Histories and Technologies – Book Launch

Date & Time: Wednesday 9 December, 16.00-18.00 (GMT)

Book launch: Practices of Projection: Histories and Technologies (eds. Gabriel Menotti and Virginia Crisp)

The Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London has the pleasure of hosting a launch of the collection published by the Oxford University Press on Wednesday 9th December 2020.

To many, the technological aspects of projection often go unnoticed, only brought to attention during moments of crisis or malfunction. For example, when a movie theatre projector falters, the audience suddenly looks toward the back of the theatre to see a sign of mechanical failure. The history of cinema similarly shows that the attention to projection has been most focused when the whole medium is hanging in suspension. During Hollywood’s economic consolidation in the ’30s, projection defined the ways that sync-sound technologies could be deployed within the medium. Most recently, the digitization of cinema repeated this process as technology was reworked to facilitate mobility. These examples show how projection continually speaks to the rearrangement of media technology. Projection, therefore, needs to be examined as a pivotal element in the future of visual media’s technological transition.

In Practices of Projection: Histories and Technologies, volume editors Gabriel Menotti and Virginia Crisp address the cultural and technological significance of projection. Throughout the volume, chapters reiterate that projection cannot, and must not, be reduced to its cinematic functions alone. Borrowing media theorist Siegfried Zielinksi’s definition, Menotti and Crisp refer to projection as the “heterogeneous array of artefacts, technical systems, and particularly visual praxes of experimentation and of culture.” From this, readers can understand the performative character of the moving image and the labour of the different actors involved in the utterance of the film text. Projection is not the same everywhere, nor equal all the time. Its systems are in permanent interaction with environmental circumstances, neighbouring structures, local cultures, and social economies. Thus the idea of projection as a universal, fully autonomous operation cannot hold. Each occurrence of projection adds nuance to a wider understanding of film screening technologies.


Gabriel Menotti (Lecturer in Film Editing & Multimedia, Federal University of Espírito Santo) and Virginia Crisp (Lecturer in Cultural & Creative Industries, King’s College London) and other contributors, including Leila Sujir, PI and Director of Elastic Spaces.


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