Ideas Digital Forum 2018: Panel talk Exhibition, Collection, Audience

– I have the privilege of having a second kick at the can here, and this time I’m moderating, and I think we’re in for a really exciting
and informative panel. I think we’re gonna get
to the real nitty-gritty about some of the things that we all have a lot of questions about. I’d just like to get straight into it. I’m gonna introduce our first
speaker, who is Jean Gagnon. He is an independent curator,
critic, and art administrator. He recently served as advisor for corporate affairs and
development to Antimodular, which is the studio of the artist Rafa Lozano-Hemmer, who I noticed you had in your show, and was also in the Whitechapel. You might have noticed one
of the slides with the eye, the roving eye that responds to your biometric data. He’s also director of the preservation and
access to collections at the Cinematheque Quebecois in Montreal from 2010 to 2017. He was director of the Daniel Langlois Foundation for arts, and science, and technology from 1998 to 2008. Before joining the foundation, he’d also been an associate
curator of media arts at the National Gallery of Canada from 1991 to 1998. He was the initiator and member
of the management committee of DOCAM Research Alliance from 2005 to 2010, and codirected a special
issue of Art Press II in France in the spring of 2009 entitled Media Arts,
Conservation, and Restoration. So, as you can see,
he’s been very involved, and a very heavy player for a long time, so I look forward to welcoming you, Jean. Please take the mic. (audience applauding) – Thank you. I’m gonna be here to see my slides. First, I want to thank
Zainub for the invitations. Great opportunity. It’s also an opportunity to reconnect after many years of
having been apart (laughs) in the world. Thanks for the gallery here to host this interesting conference. It’s always nice to be in the company of Norval Morrisseau, among others, and Emily Carr, and Carl
Beam, and other painters here. So, maybe my title here is a bit pedantic. It’s much more simple than that. I’m gonna go over few projects I did while I was at the National Gallery, and some projects after
the National Gallery, trying to see how exhibition relates to acquisitions, among other things. So, we’ll go through this. Obviously, I haven’t
tried to be exhaustive. I don’t pretend I can talk
about every exhibition that ever took place in the country, so it’s really that I draw on my own experience. I didn’t include anything that happened in artist-run centers, where a lot of this happens, actually. Digital art has been around
for quite a while in Canada, as many of us have mentioned, and for instance, the first few computer
animation experiments happened in the 1960s, at the NFB in Montreal. Also at the NFB, at the
beginning of the ’80s, there was the creation of
the Studio d’Animatique, the computer animation studio. Actually, the NFB imported a computer developed by the National Science Counsel, and they started to experiment with it, and one of the person who was hired by the NFB to
experiment with this computer was Daniel Langlois, who later created Softimage Incorporated in 1985, and for those who don’t know, this computer software was instrumental in creation of films like
Jurassic Park at the time. Also, it was mentioned yesterday, I think, the Canada Council created
the video art section in 1982, and right off the bat there was a program. At some point I was
responsible for that program, and it was called
Computer-Integrated Media. It was open to all disciplines of practice: dancers,
musicians, visual artists. Any artist could apply to that fund in order to explore the use
of computer and informatics in the production of works. Now we go back into
antiquity, in the early ’70s. These are three works. I mean, two are with the photographs and another one I didn’t
find the photographs, but these are three works by Norman White that were purchased by
the National Gallery in the early ’70s. They were all acquired from The Electric Gallery in Toronto. That gallery was active in the ’70s and folded around 1980. When I was at the National Gallery, I did an exhibition of these three works. That was in 1995. Since ’77 and ’76, these works were back in the vaults, and were never exhibited again. So when, obviously, we took them out, plugged them in the
circuit, they didn’t work. So, obviously, we had to bring the artist, and he worked with the conservator at the National Gallery to repair the three works. What’s interesting here, I point these dates in order to point one thing, which is that the Gallery,
the National Gallery, was interested in this artist as long as he was handled by a gallery, by a art dealer, and I think it’s something that has not been really
addressed by anybody, or barely mentioned: the question, or the role of art dealers in acquisition of museums. Very often, curators
go shop at art dealers. They don’t shop much outside of, I’m talking about
contemporary art curators in museums. So, here we have an example of an artist who eventually was not, or the gallery didn’t continue
in the interest in his work, and my only supposition is that, well, there was no gallerist taking care of his work anymore, so they lost interest. Maybe there’s other explanation, but I don’t know what it would be. Anyway, it’s a fact that,
between ’77 and ’95, these works were not shown, and since ’95 I don’t think
they have been shown again. That’s a work by Luc
Courchesne, Portrait One, that I showed in ’93/’94, and eventually the Gallery
purchased the piece in ’97. This is one of the first piece, interactive work, that was entering the
National Gallery’s collection. This work, one notable
fact about this work is that it still run, apparently,
on the original system, which is a Mac SE, and it was programmed with HyperCard. When I purchased the work, I purchased all the original element, so there’s a one-inch video
tape with the video footage, all the HyperCard printed so that eventually, if need be, to reconstruct the piece, we could reprogram it from the printouts, and obviously the computers
and everything else. Another piece I got for the collection at the National Gallery is Room of One’s Own by the
American artist Lynn Hershman, and it was part, first, of an exhibition called Lynn Hershman: Virtually Yours, and this piece is a peep show, basically. So, the visitor comes and looks into this little window there, and you see a little dollhouse, and you have a video, small video screen with a female character talking to you, and basically addressing you as a voyeur. George Legrady, we did
a big retrospective. It was, actually, a collaboration between the Museum of Contemporary Photography, that doesn’t exist anymore, and the National Gallery, and we showed early
photographs by George Legrady, but George Legrady, in the ’80s, started to work with digital imaging. So, very early he started to create images through digital means and printouts, and later on, in the ’90s, he did interactive works, and in that particular case, exhibition, we produced a catalog, which was a CD-ROM. So, with the artist, we produced that interactive catalog. Obviously, CD-ROMs, a CD-ROM made in the mid-’90s, try to play it now; it won’t play. So, eventually the Daniel
Langlois Foundation ported it to the Web, so you have the Web address down there if you want to see this catalog. One thing I started to do
at the National Gallery was to commission work. This morning we heard about residencies. Residency programs are
one way to have people, or help artists produce new work, commissioning the work is
another way of doing it. This particular one is Catherine
Richards’ Charged Hearts. Actually, this was a
collaboration between Catherine, the National Research Council in Ottawa, some private high-tech companies in the Ottawa region, and the National Gallery, which allowed the artist to produce this new piece involving two glass heart, actually biologically-accurate glass hearts that would be charged with some gas. I don’t remember all the details, but eventually the spectator
would enter the room, touch those glass container, and then it would take your pulse, and the two hearts, if
two people were there, would synchronize, and in the middle it would create, it’s called a terrella. It would create… It’s a phenomenon we
see in the northern sky, northern lights. So, this was a piece commissioned
by the National Gallery. We had to fund it, also,
through some fundraising, and we went to the AT&T Foundation to complete the funding. Another commission was with
Bill Seaman, an American artist. I met Bill Seaman in Karlsruhe in the mid-’90s before the ZKM was finished, the building, I mean, was finished, so Jeffrey Shaw, at the time,
was doing a yearly festival. So, I went there and met with Bill. I saw some of his work there,
and eventually I said to him, because his work is based on what he calls recombinant poetics, and so he’s interested in poetics, and I said to him, I said,
do you know of Mallarme’s Un Coup de Des Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard, and he said, “Oh yes, of course. “It’s a great influence on my thinking.” So, I said, Would you
like to adapt the poem? and he said, “Yes,” so that’s how we came about to work on adapting that
famous Mallarme’s poem as an interactive piece, and the piece is bilingual, so we have the Mallarme’s text in French, and we have the English
translation of Mallarme’s text, plus text that the artist added to the piece. How it worked, I didn’t have a commission
budget at the National Gallery. It didn’t exist. So, I had to use exhibition fund, and partly, also, acquisition fund, so part of the contract was that we pay traveling expenses, an artist’s fee for the
production time, we bring in, the National Gallery had a TV studio, so we provided the cameras. In those days we were shooting
in Betacam SP, big cameras, so we provided the equipment and so on. So, the artist came in the Ottawa region, and for few days we went around and shot different images that we see in the piece, and then he worked with his programmer to program the piece, so we paid the fee for the programmer. It was all laid out in the contract, and there was a clause in
the contract that was saying, if ever the National Gallery
wants to acquire the work, we will add another sum of so much dollars, and the piece will be kept
within the collection. Eventually, that’s what happened. The piece is part of the National
Gallery’s collection now. Char Davies’ Ephemere,
which is her second piece, virtual reality piece. The first one was Osmose. Osmose had been presented during ISEA conference in ’95 in Montreal at the Musee
d’Art Contemporain, and eventually I decided to invite her to present Ephemere at
the National Gallery. In those days, these piece were running on
Silicon Graphics stations, computers worth like $500,000, and so we could put it off because Softimage was backing. Char Davies was the vice
president of Softimage, so the company was backing the project, so we could afford to have the necessary computers, equipment, to do such a project. In 2007, I did an exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which was called e-art: New Technologies and Contemporary Art, that was celebrating 10 years of the Daniel Langlois Foundation. So, we presented 10 artists, works by 10 artists, but the total of 20-something works. We had a piece by Jessica
Field, who’s here, (chuckles) and you see all the other artists there. After the show, the
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts purchased a few works, those two. Actually, I think from Jim Campbell they purchased a few of those screens, because they are pieces,
a one-screen piece, so I think they purchased a few of those, and from David Rokeby they purchased this major
installation called Seen. I have two minutes. I just wanted to mention other galleries that has been involved
with art and science, art and technology. One of those is the Ontario Art Gallery, which held a exhibition of Juan Geuer’s work in ’93, and coming up, Caroline Langill is creating a new show of Geuer’s work paired with other artists that were influenced by Geuer’s. The Oakville Galleries
did a major solo show with David Rokeby in the mid-2000, in 2004, actually, and this particular piece
here, Machine for Taking Time, which is a great, great piece, was commissioned for that space, and eventually I did commission a version
of that for Montreal that was shown in the building of the Langlois Foundation
Ex-Centris in Montreal, and it was called Machine for Taking Time:
Boulevard Saint-Laurent, and it was two screens, actually. Finally, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer had this major solo exhibition at the Musee d’Art Contemporain
just the past summer, and showing something like 26 works, I think it was, so the Musee d’Art Contemporain being a contemporary art museum, obviously has, over the years, shown quite a bit of video, new media, and has been fairly good in committing towards
that kind of practice. So, maybe my two points here is twofold. One is that galleries may act as producers. They have to have the will to do so, but they can act as producers, and then you have to make
a deal with the artist in order to produce the
work, acquire the work, or let the work go with the artist. For instance, at the National
Gallery, it has happened that some work were
commissioned but not acquired, so the artist goes with his artwork, and keeps all the
copyrights and everything. The second point is that
I do think that you need some sort of specialized knowledge as a curator. I’m not talking about technical knowledge. I’m talking about
knowledge of the networks where these artists
work and show their work that are often outside
of the regular venues or art fairs, although lately we’ve seen more and more of that type of work, like Rafael’s shows in major art fairs, but not all artists do. Also, there’s all those new practice that are not represented
here in what I showed you, that happens on the Web
or other virtual spaces, that a specialized
curator would know about, and would be able to bring to a gallery. Now, if a gallery cannot have such a specialized curator on staff, well, make room for inviting those people once in a while. One of the problem we face sometimes is that galleries have their staff, and they are very timid, let’s say, in opening up to other
curatorial proposals. So I think it’s a very important point to make that knowledge and… It’s a specialized field, and you have to go around to be in contact with the
works and the artists, and be able to bring those
to the public, eventually. Thank you. (audience applauding) – Should just stay up there
with the mic and do it. Okay, that’s what I’ll do next time. So, our second speaker is David Bobier, and David is a media artist who’s been active in and for
the Deaf and Disability Arts for over two decades. He’s a parent of two deaf children, and he lives in nature on the outskirts of London,
Ontario, not the United Kingdom. His creative practice is incorporating research and development of vibrotactile technology as a creative medium. This vibrotactile technology, originally developed for the deaf, is essential in Bobier’s artistic practice for developing more accessible ways of creating and experiencing
art in its many forms. This work led to his
establishment of VibraFusionLab in London, Ontario, in 2014, a creative, multimedia, multi-sensory researching and supporting
inclusive technologies for supporting arts practices for greater accessibility
to the arts in general. He’s also a founder and past chair of London Ontario Media Arts Association, member of the board of
Media Arts Network Ontario, and founder and cochair of Inclusive Arts London. He’s recently received funding
from the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council, the Ontario Centres for Excellence, and the British Council of Canada. He’s gonna speak to us on a
very new and exciting topic that I think is gonna
be new for most of us, and so I’m really looking
forward to hearing this. Thanks, welcome, David. (audience applauding) – Thanks, thanks very much, and thank you to all the members of OAAG’s staff that have been involved in organizing this and also Robert McLaughlin Gallery staff. Thank you so much. I really appreciate being here. I never get totally comfortable
doing this, (laughs) and I sometimes have fits of anxiety, but if you’ll just kind of bear with me, we’ll work through this. I’m sort of relying more on visual content than talking. Also, if this were a fully-inclusive program, which I know, certainly, all
attempts were made to do that, but initially I would describe myself, so I will bypass that because I assume all of–
– Here’s what I found on the Web for a program with me all the towns were made
to do that describe. (audience laughs) – That wasn’t planned. (laughs)
– Here’s what I found– – Hey, stop it.
(audience laughs) – Jeesh. There we go, already. I think that speaks highly of technology. I’m going to start… Also the other thing I would say is that a relaxed program chairs would be situated wherever we felt like situating them. There would be giant
beanbags all over the place, ’cause sometimes we get
a little uncomfortable sitting on chairs, but anyway, all of that
as a bit of an aside, I’m going to, in all modesty, read this short passage from an exhibition that I
curated, called VibraFusionLab: Bridging Practices in Accessibility,
Art, and Communication, and it was, the essay was written by Eliza Chandler, who is a prof at Critical Disability Studies
at Ryerson University. In 2014, media artist David Bobier opened VibraFusionLab in London, Ontario in collaboration with Inclusive
Media and Design Centre at Ryerson University. VibraFusionLab, run by Bobier and populated by various multimedia and multi-disciplinary
artists from around the world, is an interactive,
multidisciplinary, multi-sensory, multi-modal, creative
studio and ideation space that serves as a hub for
research, creation, collaboration, mentorship, and exhibition opportunities. All of the energies and
activities at VibraFusionLab are focused on the creation
of new, accessible art forms through inclusive technologies, including vibrotactile technology, which is turning sound into motion, as a creative medium that
expands art-making practices, and extends art engaging experiences. I can confidently guess
that there are no other collaborative research and creation spaces like VibraFusionLab in the world. I don’t know if she
really researched that, but we’ll go with it. The genius and sheer innovation
of this collaboration is the way that it brings
together artists and scientists who make emerging, inclusive,
or adaptive technology accessible to artists of all disciplines, and of all abilities. In doing so, VibraFusionLab contributes, not only to the requirement
to make artwork accessible, but also to the abundant creative
and innovative opportunity that comes with this requirement. In short, VibraFusionLab, and the technologies, ideas,
and instruction that it offers, has dramatically changed the
way we make and experience art. So, thank you, Eliza. So, London, Ontario is a
population about 350 people, just as a little bit of background, known in the art community for Regionalism in the ’60s, with people like Greg
Curnoe and Murray Favro, which has already been
mentioned, people like that. I still think, I think
we’re still getting, trying to come to terms
with that period of time, and London, I don’t think,
wants to sort of get over it, so I think what happens in a lot of cases, or my experience is that you’re sort of working under the radar
all the time in London, and not really sort of, the community doesn’t
really engage that much with the sort of more
underground activities, so even though I operated the space for a number of years in London, what has really happened is
it’s sort of branched out, and a lot of my work is actually happening outside of London. So, I’m going to… I’ve got three videos
that I’m going to show, of three artists that I’ve worked with
through VibraFusionLab, and so the artist will,
essentially, for the most part, be talking about their own experiences, and giving you some kind of background of the work that you’re
going to be seeing. But before we get into that, this is sort of the
mantra of VibraFusionLab, which hasn’t really changed much over the last six, seven years. It did evolve out of a
supportive partnership with Inclusive Media and Design Centre. They were working on developing a theater chair for the deaf, a vibrotactile theater chair for the deaf, and I approached them to talk about the ways that that kind of
technology could be applied into art-making practice, and they were very inclusive, and we worked together
for a number of years. So, it’s an interactive
creative research studio that promotes and encourages the creation of new accessible art forms
and languages of communication. I put a great deal of emphasis
on languages of communication because I think we have
various ways of communicating beyond me standing here and talking. So, that’s a kind of a big aspect, or a big sort of background
around VibraFusionLab, is how we can communicate
on different levels and through different forms. So, VibraFusionLab investigates
the potential of vibration as a form of artistic expression
and artistic enjoyment, so looking at vibration
as a medium independently, and then VibraFusionLab explores emerging adaptive technologies. So, always kind of looking
at new technologies that are being developed specifically to support certain
physical, emotional needs, but thinking about sort of reconfiguring or reimagining that technology
as a tool for art-making, and abides by the social model
of deafness and disability. I don’t think I have to explain that. Okay, next please. Yeah, so here it is. (laughs) I guess I do have to explain it. Social model of disability
says that disability is caused by the way society is organized, rather than by a person’s
impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices
for disabled people. Next. I always was sort of
attracted by this notion that vibration is life, and I think if we think
about it, it pretty much is. We’re cellularly vibrating right now, and we’re also vibrating through sound, et cetera, et cetera. So, whoops, yep, back. Oh sorry, go ahead, yeah, sorry, there. Okay, so this is an
artist that I worked with, and she’s from Montreal, Moe Clark, a multidisciplinary Metis
artist, a looping pedal mistress, spoken word poet, educator,
artistic producer, public speaker, and activist. So, I invited, I should talk a little bit
about, just very briefly, VibraFusionLab has
functioned, essentially, through project grants, plus various associations
with universities, and sort of, in some fortunate way, getting connected with some
SSHRC funding along the way. So, through project funding, I invited Moe Clark to come to the lab, and she said, “I just
have one sort of thing “that I want to investigate,
and that’s water, “and how can we work with water?” So… – Steve, I’m not sure if you recall,
– Oh, that’s not it. – but the last time ATW visited the Tangled Art Gallery.
– No, back, back, back. Sorry, sorry, sorry. There, that should be a video. Is that not a video? Yeah, thank you. (ethereal electronic music) So, she’s essentially voicing, looping, and then we’re channeling
that through four channels into flat pizza dishes with a very thin layer of water. So, over the period of the week, she practiced with her
voice, changing frequency, and was able to manipulate and move the disturbance, or the vibration of the water
from one pan to another. So, she created this lovely sort of visual, visualization of sound. So, this was a projection,
obviously, taken off of the, from the floor, and
projected over top of her. (laughs) Okay, you can
stop that one, thanks. The next one was a really interesting one. So, this exhibition took place at Tangled Art Gallery in Toronto. For those of you who are
not familiar with it, it’s a new gallery,
opened at 401 Richmond, under the direction of
Tangled Art + Disability, and it’s modeled, or it’s situated as the only fully accessible
gallery space in Canada, and so part of their
role is to be a model, essentially, for other galleries, to approach and to develop their own more accessible programming
in their own institutions. So, Deirdre Logue, some of you, many of you may well know her. She’s a very prominent Canadian artist, arts administrator, her performance-based film,
video, and installation works are self-portraits uniquely located between comfort and trauma, self-liberation and self-annihilation. – Steve, I’m not sure if you recall, but the last time ATW visited
the Tangled Art Gallery here in Toronto, there was a very unique
exhibition on display. – Yeah, I remember. It was an interesting installation
by Vanessa Dion Fletcher called Own Your Cervix. – You got it, and while the current artist works in a more traditional
medium, video, she once again challenges established
conventions of the art world. – She sure does. Deirdre Logue’s Admiring All We Accomplish was created in collaboration
with VibraFusionLab. – And it’s that partnership that makes the exhibition so great for the blind and low-vision community. Vibrational haptics allow visitors to experience the audio and video in a way I’ve never heard
of before at an art gallery. – And because it’s Tangled, the accessibility
features don’t end there. Recently, staff and volunteers were trained to give live described tours. – AMI’s special correspondent,
Kathleen Forrestal, visited Deirdre’s
exhibition and got a tour. (whooshes) (mysterious music)
(clicking) – I’m very intrigued. As someone who is legally blind, the thought of visiting
a video art exhibition isn’t something I would
normally be excited about, but when I learned artist Deirdre Logue included haptic, tactile elements as part of Admiring All We Accomplish at the Tangled Art Gallery, I couldn’t wait to check it out. – There are three video art installations, with tactile audio objects attached. The work is all video, and it’s all performance for the camera, so that’s me performing in a variety of different
settings and contexts. So, it has my body in it,
sort of the self as subject, and in this case, it’s all work that’s best suited to
maximize the capacities of tactile audio technologies. – [Kathleen] Another cool element that made the show perfect for me was the newly added live described tours, and I was lucky enough to be guided by two wonderful volunteers,
Marlena and Victoria. – [Guide] This piece is called Big Agnes. This is a single-channel video projected onto the left-hand
wall of the gallery. – [Kathleen] Curator
in Residence Sean Lee, feels this addition was a no-brainer. – The verbal description training was kind of a natural next step for us. We already have the guided tours, in which we work with artists
and with outside resources to create a guided tour, but part of the reason why this was really a
great training for us was that it helped us to engage with members of the blind
and low-vision communities. So what that means is we work with the transcript
provided through the artist, but also are able to interject things like a subjective narrative. It provides us that opportunity to create the best of both worlds. – This tour is approximately
10 minutes long, and describes three video
installations, and this– – [Kathleen] The described
tour was very cool, but it is Deirdre’s partnership with VibraFusionLab’s David Bobier that helped create works
that invite visitors to interact and experience the
pieces with several senses. – Just stop for a second, yeah. Thank you. So, this is, these vibrotactile floors
were designed specifically to match the size of the video, the four videos on the wall. You’ll notice that the video
monitors are about this high, so lowering them, and also the floors were ramped so that you could go up onto them with wheelchairs, et cetera. So, yeah, thinking about the audience, who might be attending,
what were their needs in terms of being able to fully
explore and enjoy the work? Okay, we’re gonna quickly
go ahead here to the next, I’ve got two more videos that are about, okay, so very briefly
going into this project that’s right happening at the moment, is with Chisato Minamimura,
who is a London-based, London, UK-based deaf
artist born in Japan. So, the project we’re working on is called Scored in Silence, designed for small,
relaxed performance spaces, Scored in Silence explores
the hidden perspectives of deaf survivors, hibakusha, of the atom bombs that fell in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki in 1945, their lived experiences,
and the impact afterwards. She’s collected stories by going to Japan and
interviewing survivors, and also collecting archival material, and it includes, so she’s always worked a lot
with sound visualization, but sort of wanted to move into
vibrotactile into her work. So, we were able to partnership with a company called Woojer, which just came out with a, very recently, with a belt, a vibrotactile belt, or they call it a strap, which you can put on, and you get the vibration
without the sound, which is quite surprising. So, what we did was we
were able to provide 40 of these straps, or
belts, for the audience, and then we designed, with Jim Ruxton, originally from Subtle Technologies, now working independently as
an engineer and media artist, to develop two vibrotactile systems that were built into her costume, and placed on her shoulder blades, and it was operated through a Sennheiser microphone system, so it was wireless. So, she was feeling the
sound production on her body as it was taking place instantaneously. So, it was a fully immersive. Everyone was sort of
experiencing the same thing. Okay. She’s gonna just briefly talk about. This is sort of the trailer. – Hello, I’m Chisato. – [Interpreter] Hello, I’m Chisato. – [Both] I’m a performer
and artistic director, and I’m going to tell you a
bit about my latest project. It’s called Scored in Silence, and it tells the story of the history from 1945, when America dropped the first atomic bomb in my country, Japan, in two cities: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Recently, I met a deaf survivor, and when I heard these stories, it had a huge impact on me. I started to research and interview, collecting these stories
from other deaf survivors, and I’ve used these to
create my new project. It has a lot of elements. It includes signed language, and a new fabric called Holo-Gauze. It uses animation, images, and lighting, as well as sound. But obviously, for some of
our deaf audience member, they won’t be able to
access this soundscape, but they will be able to feel
it using one of these belts. It’s called a Woojer, and it vibrates very powerfully, meaning that you can access
the performance visually, with sound, and through feeling. – See you there. – [Interpreter] Hope to see you there. – We’ll pass over the next one, yeah, and then, just to, back, sorry, go ahead, yeah. So, that opened just recently at the Brighton Digital Festival, and next week we’re going to be opening at the Manchester Science Festival, and my hope is, in 2020 spring, to bring it to Canada, so if anyone’s interested
(laughs) in hosting… So, these are, just quickly, these are some of the artists
that we’ve worked with over the last six, seven years,
and organizations as well. Some of them are familiar to some of you. I think, just the next one, and thanks. I’m sorry I went overtime,
but thank you so much. (audience applauding) – Our next speaker is Zach Pearl. Zach is an American Canadian designer, curator, and post-secondary educator, with a critical focus on the intersection of art and technology. Since relocating to Toronto, Zach has produced events and publications for a variety of venues, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Textile Museum of Canada, Vtape, the Gladstone Hotel, Artscape Youngplace, and InterAccess, among others. He’s the former artistic director of the Subtle Technologies Festival, which provided a platform for emergent multidisciplinary practices. Zach is also the cofounder and
managing editor of Kapsula, a digital publication for
the experimental art writing, and as I understand it, he’s currently pursuing a PhD. I don’t know how he does all of this. He can’t possibly have
any free time whatsoever. He’s gonna be speaking to us about programming online exhibitions in a post-Internet ecology. (audience applauding) – Thank you, again, to OAAG
and RMG for organizing this. Just a quick plug, since
it was already mentioned, but Kapsula is actually set
to produce a publication that documents this forum, which we’re very excited about, and so hopefully we will find a way to let you all know when that
comes out in the new year. So, today I want to talk about something that was mentioned this morning, which is post-Internet culture, and I’m referring to it here
as post-Internet ecology. Obviously, I’m talking about this in the context of online exhibitions. There’s a real cultural shift that’s gone on in the mediascape over the last 10 to 12 years, and online exhibitions, the way that we, maybe,
think about them now is probably, realistically, not the way that they really function or, in my opinion, deserve to be exhibited and engaged with by museums, and public galleries, and other cultural institutions
such as artist-run centers. Today, obviously, we’re concentrating on
museums and public galleries. Just briefly, if you’re not familiar with
the term post-Internet, do not worry. It does not mean that
the Internet is over. It means that we have arrived in a time where we are actively
living with the Internet, and, in a way, where it
actually bleeds over the virtual into our physical, everyday lives, which I think we can all probably attest to having that as a lived experience. The term was actually first created by a German American artist, Marisa Olson, several years ago, and she kind of started
this whole ball rolling unintentionally, but she created a new way of thinking about how the Internet has a role, and it was actually, as
it’s been stated many times, earlier, artists were very influential in creating this kind of
new paradigm of thinking. Before I get to my first slide, I also will just say, briefly, that my master’s thesis was about the death of
the virtual exhibition. This was my claim, that was
actually based on a statement, a paper by Patrick Lichty, who is a very well-respected
artist and curator himself, and was involved in the
movement in the late ’90s, and he said that even though art online continues to persist, online art is largely over, and he doesn’t mean that
we don’t have people who are making art online. We obviously, definitely, do, and more and more in
ways that are networked and kind of invisibly so, but what he was trying to get at is that the political movement
that was in the ’90s has really passed us, and it’s more about the
idea of how the social, the realm of the social, is governing those kinds of interactions. Okay, so here’s my premise, which really, I’ll be truthful with you, is more of a provocation, so if it makes you a bit
uncomfortable, don’t worry. So, virtual exhibitions, in
the familiar sense, anyway, I would argue are largely outdated, because they’re based on tropes of the late 1990s and the early 2000s, or what we can kind of uncomfortably say is the turn of the century at this point. So, here’s my line of reasoning. So, even though they were definitely, and have always been, as sort of Web art, or online art, however
you wanna phrase it, has been interactive, early online exhibitions were
a passive kind of usership, which is a tricky kind of terminology, but there wasn’t the participatory element that we’re now very much used to, since Web 2.0 technology
is beginning around 2004 started to arrive, and so it also means that, largely, these were interactions that
were meant for a single user, usually in a stationary location. At that time, most of us did not have, as I struggle to grasp it, these things. We had this, but much
larger and much heavier. At that same time, it
also created a kind of, and I was happy to see that somebody was
referencing Janet Murray, it created a kind of desktop theater, which is not a bad thing, but it also means that there is not a cross-platform
kind of mentality to it, where we can walk out and experience it on multiple devices and multiple spaces, and so all of these things have changed quite a bit since then. So, my argument here is that online exhibitions need to, now, reflect the protocols of
those mobile, digital, and network technologies
that we interact with, and are part of this
larger cultural framework of a post-Internet ecology. So, I’ll outline, just
briefly, what that involves. So, the first one, I think
we can all agree with, that our, at least in the
developed, Western world, our lives are very saturated with mobile network technologies. We rely, increasingly, on
big data infrastructures that are largely,
unfortunately, invisible to us, and that was discussed at
various points yesterday. As users or, as I’ll say in a few minutes, more so producers in this space, we’re also required to manage many different types of content, and navigating between
them simultaneously, that Hito Steyerl calls
a dynamic viewing space, and I’m not sure if Faisal is still here, but he was on the panel yesterday, and he was doing the sort of live tweeting visualizations from Nuit Blanche, and there
were people performing. There were projections. People were on their phones. This is the kind of dynamic viewing space that Steyerl is arguing that we now are very much embedded in. A post-Internet ecology
desires networked objects, otherwise known as the Internet of Things, things that communicate with one another, that are automated, and responsive environments
that adapt to us. It embraces plurality,
and at the same time, weirdly flatness that the digital culture kind of gives us everything all at once, and sometimes it’s a
bit too much to handle. It prizes the referential, the social, and the participatory, and most importantly, in my view, it definitely creates users who are also called upon
to be cultural producers, and so that’s kind of the crux
of where I’m going with this. Now, just quickly, as a visual way, this is a very important
early piece of net art by Olia Lialina, called My
Boyfriend Came Back from the War, and I think that just the layout
of this in an HTML frameset at the time, in 1996, gives us the idea that we are dealing with a kind of dynamic viewing space, but it’s very structured, in a way, and largely makes sense to us still. The idea here is that you
click on various hyperlinks, and they open up new pieces of content, and it’s kind of like an
ever-unfolding graphic novel in different pieces, but then, if we contrast
this to a more recent piece, so here we have Attract Money,
which is from last year, I’m sorry, I left the date off, 2017, by Michael Borras, also known as Systaime, you can see that there is an
imbrication of these things. It’s layered. It’s self-referential. You can see the browser
windows within the composition. Parts of the image
protrude into one another, not violently, perhaps, but in a kind of confusing,
convoluted manner, and this is the, sort
of, visualized reality of a person in a post-Internet ecology, is what I would argue. So, here are my very
practical recommendations, which I’m also kind of
calling reformations, to be a bit cheeky, that I think that museums
and public galleries really need to address if they
want to start thinking about more dynamic online exhibitions. Sorry this is a bit dim. You should probably never
use a coral-color typeface in a situation where
there are large bulbs. So, I’m gonna go through, so, each one of the top
headers will change, but these three points
will remain the same, and I’m just going to
give you some examples, some good, some not so good, of what I think are pertinent here. So, this is not my idea. This has been argued, actually,
by a few different people, that online exhibitions need to move towards the
idea of online platforms. This is what we already
are used to engaging with. When we think about Twitter, or Facebook, or, I was having a conversation
with somebody about Ello, if anybody remembers that as a brief blip in the cultural landscape. These platforms allow people to not only see and interact with things, but it’s around a database, where they can add, they
can comment, they can share, and these are the online behaviors that we have incorporated into our lives. So, I would argue that institutions, rather than creating online exhibitions that might just be hyperlinks within a custom-designed Web portal, need to create platforms
based on artifacts, which are the artworks, and treat them as data, and make spaces that are specifically for building upon those artifacts, and engaging a community around it, and the important thing about this, too, is that, in my words, it
registers the social engagement, which is a fancy way of saying that you can see when people
are interacting online with the artworks and with each other. Okay, so I won’t spend
too much time on this, because it’s my own work, but this was the result of my MFA thesis, which was the research creation component was to do an online
exhibition in a new way, new in quotations. Basically, what it involved were three different
artists and their artworks that you could see and
interact with simultaneously at the same time that there
was a virtual message board, and the thing that I did to kind of radicalize this space is that I got rid of all of
the different privileges, and everyone was not only an editor, but they were administrators of the space. So, when you signed
onto this online portal, you had complete control over the website as much as I did when I
was putting it together, and this I modeled off
of an idea from 2006 in a very interesting book,
if anybody is so inclined, called Curating Immateriality. The editor, Joasia Krysa, calls this method software curating, in which you design the
conditions of the exhibition, but you cannot know the results of what will actually happen, because it’s completely dependent on how your users/visitors perform within that space, and just go to another image here. Unfortunately, what happened, although some people did engage with this in quite a dynamic way, this is why we do research: sometimes these things,
these propositions, fail, and unfortunately, most people kind of resorted
to the shyness or timidness that they would within a
physical gallery space. However, the great thing
that came out of it is that certain people
sort of branched off and had their own conversations, but it was all visible, and remarkably, a lot of the users logged
in to be spectators, and to watch the discourse that was happening around these artworks, and so I would argue that the main function of
the exhibition was actually to be witnessing the
discourse around the artworks, and not the exhibition, necessarily, of the artworks themselves, to a degree. We don’t want to undermine the artworks, but it was really more
of a dynamic social space in that way. Another example of this that
I look to as inspiration, and which is often cited by
curators and practitioners, both of the sort of era, and now today, who are thinking critically
about networked art, is runme, which was started out as an
online festival of software art. So, unlike Web art, which you access through
your World Wide Web protocol, these were programs that
artists had designed, that you would download onto your computer and actually play them to experience them, but the remarkable thing about runme is that it’s all user-driven. So, this is a community of creators, at different levels of
professionalization and expertise, and they actually run the platform themselves, and so it is user-generated in that way, and what it would take for an institution is to create the beginnings of this, and then to invite a
community of stakeholders, which I’ll talk about in just a minute, who are dedicated and committed,
and will take this on, and it actually has, it continues today. It’s been, let me see, 2003, so here we are 15 years into the future. Now, I won’t spend too
much time dogging it, but there are more
recent attempts at this. peer to space, in Europe, is the work of two
curators/art administrators, and if we had more time I would take you into
the website and show you. They create online exhibitions
that are community-driven in the way that their community of users can propose exhibitions, but
they are not participatory. They are interactive, but
there’s no means to comment, to share, to have a kind
of discourse about it, or to add, or kind of further the project along, and so there’s a real gap there in between that and what
we’re used to experiencing in other online avenues. Okay, my second point is
that online exhibitions, and this is kind of goes as well for the physical space of an institution that would be supporting this, is that online exhibitions need to move into mixed realities, because the original
political idea of was that you experienced
it through your screen because you’re circumventing the gallery. It was to disrupt the power dynamic and the authoritative
voice of the institution. However, increasingly in
post-Internet culture, especially my own students at OCAD, who are now born in the year
2000 or later, possibly, have grown up in a world where they are navigating
physical and virtual space simultaneously quite a lot, and so this is what they’re used to. This is how they engage with the world, and mixed-reality
environments are natural, to a certain degree, to them. Now there’s, I can’t get into the whole, there is a whole history and discourse around what is a
mixed-reality environment, but my argument here
comes from James Meyer, who talks about the idea
of a functional site, that you need to have
hybrid spaces that create and, again, visualize
the social engagement around what the artwork is, and I think that you can only
really do that through, huh? Can only really do that
through hybrid environments, where there is access to the digital, and also somehow bringing people together in a physical way, as well. I just have this real quick
quote from myself up here, because it’s interesting to go back and look at what you said
seven to eight years ago. I argued against this for a while, the idea that you should ever put net art in a physical locality, but just briefly, although traditional
definitions of site-specificity have regarded virtual
space as its antithesis, both concepts involve the
construction of networks and relational forms
that spatialize discourse and otherwise invisible social forces. So, in other words, it may not be sort of politically kosher for, let’s say, to have someone who’s making
art to circumvent the gallery, and put that in a physical gallery space, but what’s really important
is that drawing the parallel between the network that they’re using to disseminate and decentralize, also relates to the idea
that we are a network society that increasingly views this as some kind of analog or metaphor for how we relate to each other, and those things need to come
together in a meaningful way, is what I would argue. I’ll just really talk,
quickly talk about Speed Show, and then zoom to my last point. This is something that I’ve
looked at for many years. It’s a great model that kind
of does all of these things. It was started by a
curator named Aram Bartoll in Germany in 2010, and the really basic idea is
you throw a bunch of computers, or maybe, in this case, iPads,
into a trunk or a trailer, you find an Internet cafe, or somewhere with a reliable
high-speed Internet connection, and you move the show out
of the museum or the gallery into the community, and you invite people to come
interact with these artworks, and also to interact with each other, and it’s been one of
the best things about it is that it tries to also
do this software curating, where it’s never the
same curator/organizer. It’s passed off to somebody
else within the community, and they organize and
complete the next show. Okay, I’m running a
little bit short on time. I wanted to at least
acknowledge The Wrong, The Wrong Biennale. If you have not seen this at all, it is probably, in recent years, it’s made the biggest splash, in terms of the continuation
of Web art as a practice. I have some problems with
it, but it does, at least, some events like this, GIF Fest 3000, which took place in Vancouver and was organized by Erica Lapadat-Janzen, they do make sort of spin-off
events in physical spaces, that actually put the work, in this case they took all the GIFs from the virtual pavilion and projection-mapped
them onto the ceiling of this abandoned warehouse building. So, there are efforts, and
they had a huge turnout. I’ll just, as you can
see over on the right, sorry, it’s a bit dim, but it was very dance-y, kind of rave-y, but it was of that culture, and I think that there is a real need to try and figure out who
you are speaking to with, just because it’s networked doesn’t mean that you’re
reaching everyone simultaneously. Okay, I’ll go past that
and on to my final point. So, online exhibitions, as I’ve already said this
idea of software curating, I really, I did wanna challenge
what was said yesterday, that we should maybe just dismiss the idea that visitor/users can play a
part in the curatorial models that institutions use
to create exhibitions, because these kinds of
things have been going on for quite a while. Michelle Kasprzak, at V2 in Rotterdam, has been doing this a lot, with laboratories as
galleries and vice versa. Suzon Fuks, in Australia, she created a online performance
space called Waterwheel, that is user-defined, and she manages it, but
people drive the content. So, these things can happen. I think that it’s really
important, though, to figure out who you’re speaking to, and then get them to care about it, and get them to commit to it. How do you do this in a way
that’s kind of seamless? You curate it to make it matter. So, you engender a defined
community of users, and this is a question that
museums and public galleries are continually asking themselves: how do you create relevance? By actually figuring out who
you’re trying to speak to. This is me again, mostly. This was sort of an
exercise in me going back to why I’d written many years ago, and going, do I feel the same way? So I’ll blow past this, but I do wanna talk about
a really important project, in my research, anyway, which is from Lauren McCarthy, and she has done a lot
of works over the years that kind of push and
pull at this tension, and her project, Script, she used a wiki, which, again, is a very
accessible online tool that not only individual users, but institutions can easily incorporate into their models, and the idea is that for
a series of a whole month, she would post a script of what she was going to do
the next day onto this wiki, and through her blog, people could log into the
wiki and change the script. They could say, now you’re going to go
to the car parts dealer, or now you’re going to brush
your teeth for seven minutes, and she would have to
do this, and act it out, and one of the cool things that happened, you can see up here in the
one image that I’ve pulled, is that it was all video-documented
within a gallery space. So, there was this kind of weird, almost virtuality of taking
place in a white cube, as like a TV studio, but it became this hybrid
kind of embodied performance that was being infused by the directions of anonymous virtual users, but the same users came
back day after day, maybe not to edit, but
to look at the script and stay engaged with the blog
as a kind of mediating device in this mixed reality experience. So, my last slide, which is,
again, more of a provocation, ’cause I haven’t talked
about virtual reality in the role of virtual exhibitions, here in Canada, Jon Rafman, who I’ve also followed
closely for many years. He’s a great innovator if you’re
not familiar with his work. He has started creating
his own custom environments within virtual reality
in order to display work. However, I, as much as I respect him, I really can’t philosophically
get on board with this. I think that it’s really
important to materi, um, sorry, I’m getting mixed up here. Digital media is a material. It’s material in ways that we enact by embodying the space, and so this is pulled
from the FIVARS festival, which happened in 2015, and this was one of their advertisements, as an image promoting their festival. There’s no engagement going on here, and I know that it’s just a snapshot pulled from a marketing promo, but I don’t think this is the direction that we should be heading in. We need to find ways to more seamlessly create
mixed-reality environments so that we can engage with digital content but stay engaged with one another. All right, I think I’ll end it there. Thank you very much. (audience applauding) – Okay, so now we have our final speaker. Just before I continue, are we gonna have a break
after the final speaker, and then questions, or are
we just gonna keep going? You’re gonna keep going, okay. (audience member speaking faintly) Okay, great. So, our final speaker today is Srinivas Krishna, and he’s founder and CEO of the pioneering mobile
AR studio, AWE Company, and the mobile AR platform Geogram, 2017. Srinivas Krishna has created both foundational AR technologies and some of the most
remarkable AR experiences of the past decade. A patented inventor,
user experience designer, and lifelong innovator, his work as a digital media artist has been applauded by the Globe and Mail as utterly breathtaking genius. Previously, Srinivas has produced
and directed feature films that have premiered at
Toronto, Sundance, and Cannes, and have been distributed worldwide. He launched his career in 1991 with the international hit, Masala, which was voted by the
British Film Institute among the top 10 Asian diaspora films of the 20th century, and is a classic of world cinema, and I think anyone who’s seen that film absolutely would have to agree. The near-universal adoption of smartphones gives museums and galleries
the unprecedented opportunity to engage audiences and
build loyal communities. Srinivas Krishna provides a framework for imagining and shaping
the visitor experience before, during, and after the exhibit, and examines the digital
tools and methods, including augmented reality, that will help museums
and galleries succeed in the digital space. So, let’s welcome Srinivas to the podium. (audience applauding) – Thanks to OAAG, and
Zainub, and the staff here, for making this happen, giving
me a chance to speak to you, and thanks very much for this opportunity. Really happy to be here. I guess, in the interest of disclosure, as you pointed out before, I’m just gonna tell
you where I speak from. I’m a guy who went to art school, made some movies and digital art projects, and had a pretty comfortable life, and for 20 years I did that, and then I, through a series of decisions that most everyone who cared
about me tried to persuade me were completely irrational
and downright stupid, I embarked on a journey that has now led me to this bizarre place of running a leading high-tech company. So, here I am, and it’s
from this perspective today that I’m gonna speak to
you about mobile AR VR, augmented and virtual reality, and… How do I? – [Audience Member] Hit the right button. Yeah, so what I’m gonna
talk about, yeah tech, what I’m gonna talk about
today is mobile AR VR, what it is and how it works, very quickly, and really why it matters. What problem are we trying to solve? And the opportunity that’s
at hand with this technology that everyone’s kind of hearing
about, and what it means. I’m gonna talk about
an exhibit that we made at Fort York, and the lessons that we learned from it, which were really expensive and painful. I’m going to share those with you, and some of the responses that we’re coming back with on the back of that, like a publishing desk,
Geogram, that we’re building, and an AR VR learning that
I hope might interest you. So, very, oops… Did I go to the end? It’s over.
(computer beeps) (audience chuckles) Sorry about that. All right, okay. So, let’s just talk about what it is. Until now, when we look at the mobile Web, Web 2.0, what it really, in the
simplest way, means, is that we’re looking at 2D
and 3D content on our screens. That’s it. When we talk about the
Mobile Web 3.0, mobile AR VR, what we are saying is that
that content is spatialized. It doesn’t just live on our screens; it lives, or appears
to live, in the world, and it refers to things,
the material world. So, those two characters,
they’re standing, and they appear to be
standing in front of you when you look through your camera device in the world in front of you. When you look around, they’re not there. When you look through
again, they’re there, and it uses the camera and
other sensors on the device to enable this. How it works is, I’ll
keep it really simple. There’s two ways to make
this work in mobile AR. One is using markers, which
you’ve all seen before. It’s like a QR code or an
image that is recognized, and it triggers some content. Now, essential to this is an understanding of the location of the
user in the real world, by which I mean we need to
know where they’re standing in 3-dimensional coordinates, and we also need to know
their angle of view. Are they looking down? Are they looking up? Are they looking straight? And that we call a pose. So, we need to know
their position and pose, and if we know that, we can
deliver, or render, that content in a way that looks plausible to them, and we can use an image to do
that, and recognize an image, and this is useful in a gallery context if you want to trigger a video or any kind of digital content in relation to an object
that you want it to refer to. Now, the other way is what we call markerless
augmented reality, and we don’t use markers. What we do, rather, is we
create a 3D map of the world, a 3D model, and we track the movement
and position of the user in that 3D model, and we track their pose using
the onboarding, the sensors. We get knowledge around
that: what they’re looking, where they’re looking,
how they’re looking, and we use that information
to then deliver content so that it appears to be in the world that they’re
actually inhabiting. That’s it. How does it look like? I’ll just show you a very
early prototype that we built that is that shared, mixed reality space that you were referring to. (mysterious music) (birds twittering) This is in a place called
the Blockhouse in Fort York. What we did was we created
a 3D model of that interior, and we created a virtual model of it, and populated it with digital content. So, we walk around with iPads, we discover these characters,
and they interact with us, they know that we’re there.
– Over here, Charles. Let me have a word with you. – It’s a character talking to one person,
– I remain to battle brother Jonathan in service of His Majesty the King. – and I’m watching both of them in real time.
– Has the devil tied your feet? Go, I said. I said go. – So he knows that that person’s standing
right in front of him and can respond to him physically. So again, there’s the 3D model, and those characters walking
in the 3D virtual world, and they appear to us in the real world,
– Men, I’ve a message from the captain. The Yankees are off our shore. At daybreak, all of you upstairs will leave with the
captain to greet the enemy. – and it’s a shared multi-user experience.
– Three cheers for His Majesty. Three cheers, I say! – Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah! – So, the advantage of
the markerless system is that it enables a couple of things. It enables the content to be persistent, so it is always there. You can look away, and when
you look back it’s still there, and that makes it feel very real. The other thing it enables
is a shared experience that we’re all looking at the same thing at the same time in real time, and that also makes it real. So, this idea that it’s really there becomes really pressing, and immediate, and powerful. So, I wanna ask, why is
this important to you? You’re curators, artists,
galleries: who cares? And it’s a good question, because really, what problems can this solve, and what does it solve for you? And I have to say that,
when I got into it, what it solved for me was
the idea of storytelling, of audience engagement, and really, by which, I
think we have to understand, it means audience development. How do we develop audiences for our work? How do we relate to them? And how do we communicate to them, and how do we make it really beautiful, and pressing, and exciting? So, I wanna just go back and
think about this problem, and say, well, how did we used
to do this once upon a time? And not too long ago, we put out an ad. We put a listing in the news, and that would result in
people coming to our venue and looking at our art. That’s how we did it, and there was a whole
value chain around this, and a whole economy of
agencies, copywriters, graphic artists who we’d engage, and this would go out into the world, and there was a newspapers
that would publish this, and they may not charge a gallery a lot, but they charged department stores a lot, and used some of that money
to create spaces for art, and performing arts,
visual arts, and the like. Today, it’s a different story altogether. I mean, newspapers are barely surviving, and in this era of social media, and the post-Internet, as you called it, the presence of algorithmically-driven audience outreach systems. Where is our audience? What does it take to get people? Recently, a guy who promotes movies said, two years ago, $100,000 in an ad budget, he could fill theaters. “Today,” he says, “$100,000
gets you nothing.” The cost of advertising, of promoting on social
media and on the Internet is just through the roof. So, and I’ll just talk
about it by the numbers. I mean, when we look at the
damage to this value chain, this pipeline, it’s huge. In 2001, newspapers were more than $100 million in ad revenue globally. Today they’re less than 20, and you can see the growth of digital by the shrinking of newspapers, and this is really what’s
happened when we think about, how do we reach audience? How do we communicate what we’re doing? How do we find the people who
wanna know what we’re up to? So, that’s really, I think, where AR VR, mobile AR VR can make a difference, and it’s not going away. It’s gonna be huge, and in the past four quarters, $4 billion has been
invested in this space. In three years, there’s gonna be more
than three billion devices that are capable of delivering
mobile AR VR experiences, and the ad market size in three years is gonna be more than $30 billion, and when we look at the
share in the Americas, that’s almost 40%. That’s more than a billion
dollars here alone, and we think of Canada, 10% of that. It’s 100, $200 million market here. So, when we think, are we advertisers, as galleries, as artists? Well, we’re storytellers, and we need to be here if we’re
gonna capture some of this, and it’s not enough to
think, oh, we’re gonna wait, and I say this because I don’t think we
can change the Internet as it is today. It is, pretty much, what it is. It’s not gonna go away, and it’s gonna continue being what it is until it gets really degraded, and we see this time and again with mature businesses and ecosystems: they kind of just self-degrade. Their business model is not gonna change. So here, with this new interface, and this new kind of media, we have a chance to really
change, not just the experience, but also how we further
that as a business, and make it useful for all of
us who are, wanna participate. So, I’m just gonna talk
about, in that context, we started a project several
years ago at Fort York, with precisely this idea of, how do we make this site that is really kind of in need of a story? Because its story is
completely kind of submerged under the condos that
have grown up around it, and the Gardiner Expressway. No one knows it’s there. No one knows what happened here. So, we started this project, and the brief was eight
dramatic recreations across this nine-acre site, which gets 10s of
thousands of people a year, and the idea was the experience should
take less than two hours, and so we started this. What we did was we created a 3D model, a 3D map of that entire nine acres, and we put up beacons in the virtual world for audio exhibits, where you can walk up to them
and it would trigger an audio, or it would trigger a virtual recreation, and through a smartphone put inside a little case
to keep out the sun, you could see those beacons, and you’d say, oh, I’m
gonna check that out, and you’d get some information about it, and you’d walk over to it,
and when you walked over, it– (lively music)
Sorry. It knew you were there. It knew you were there, and it would trigger an experience, which (lively music) goes something like this. So, this was the first instance of any kind of mobile AR VR experience that was a consumer
experience in the world, and it was the largest of its kind, and it really put our company on the map, and made us kind of a legend
in this emerging industry, ’cause we did something
that no one had done. We had, these were the kinds of results that we got from user
surveys that were done, and I won’t outline them,
but it was phenomenal, in terms of the kind of
engagement and understanding that people had of that site,
and what story was there. Lessons. Well, making it was really bloody hard. It was really hard, it was
expensive, and it was difficult, and so we learned, this
has to be easy to do. No one’s gonna do this, and
we can’t keep doing this. We’re gonna die if we keep doing it, and secondly, it’s a real
challenge for marketers. The people who were, the City of Toronto, which has a great group of marketers, just couldn’t bring
themselves to market it. They didn’t know how. They didn’t know where the audience was. They didn’t know how do
it, and it was a new thing, and people are always comfortable
doing the same old thing. So, we thought, we really
need to respond to this if we’re gonna grow, and if this whole space is gonna grow that we became committed to. So, our response is to build out something that we call Geogram, and it’s a client-managed
AR publishing desk that essentially allows
you to upload and create, create and upload your content, and deliver it to users,
wherever they are, and wherever you want them to be, or wherever you want them
to experience something, and there’s a mobile
applications that go with it, that you can use as is, or you can embed into other people’s apps. What it enables you to do is promote what you’re doing in virtual screens across the city. Sounds completely futuristic,
but it’s happening. You can do that. You can enhance the experience for people who come to your site, and this is, I think, what
you were talking about is, how do we make this a shared
experience for people? And you can leave digital
content with them, digital swag, if you will, and you can publish content
to your very own followers on your channel in Geogram. You can say, and it’s yours to manage. We don’t have algorithms
that get you those people. It’s like people who come to your site, you can convert them to sign up and start communicating with them, and having a relationship, giving them experiential content. Now, I just talked about marketers, and it’s not just creating a set of tools. We said, let’s partner with people who are gonna help advance this, and so we started a
partnership with NOW magazine, just recently, and we know NOW, for the past 38 years, has really been central to
the promotion of the arts in the city of Toronto. They’re really part of the
lifeblood of the community in that way, and yet they’re in the
marketplace, much like us. We’re a business. We’re in the marketplace. So, we thought, but this is a relationship
that we can develop to grow this whole pipeline for the arts. What we’re doing, what we’re
starting, is Dundas Square. We’re taking it over. When you go there, as of Halloween, which is just a couple of weeks
away when we’re launching, you can look through your screen, your phone, on the NOW app, and you’ll see a virtual Dundas Square, and we’re basically
migrating the magazine idea, and the listings idea, and
the local listings idea, onto the cityscape as a
shared, mixed-reality space, and just to give you a sense
of what that might look like, this was a test we did
about six weeks ago, and these are our screens
covering the square, and we just used dummy ads
that we found to do it, but this is sort of what
it might appear like, okay? So, this is, essentially,
what we’re trying to build with NOW and with our platform, is a new audience development
pipeline using AR VR, and in this, we’ve now
started a relationship with the media lab at
the Canadian Film Centre to help people learn how to make that content, and the one missing part of this audience development pipeline was, of course, you, and this is what, we’re thinking, how do we now, now that we have a pipeline to market content and your work, how do we bring you into this? How do we give you an
opportunity or framework for it, and so the three of us, the CFC
Media Lab, Geogram, and NOW, are developing something that we’re calling the AR VR Learning Lab, and essentially what it does is it’s for the arts community, for, not just galleries, but also performing arts
and other arts communities. It’s a six-month program, and it’s really about coming there with a show that you wanna work on, and develop an audience for, and you learn how to produce, and publish, and work in this new medium, develop an engaged
audience over six months, promote your show, generate
sales, or visitation, or however you measure success, and throughout the process, and at the end we analyze
what we’ve learned, and share best practices, and the goal is, really, to
generate sales, visitation, and to learn together, and this is not anything that
any of us are experts in. We each have an area that we understand, and it’s about, how do we come together to really understand this,
and get ahead of the curve, and make it that service that
is gonna work for all of us, and the way that, I think, in 2001, which was the last moment when we really had a viable ecosystem for promoting and our work, how do we come back to
something that is viable, and that we can work with, and that’s really the goal of it. So, if you’re interested,
there’s an email. Just send us an email with that subject, and just send your contact details, and we’ll get back to you. We’re looking at launching
this in the spring, and running it through, and that’s what I have to say today. Thank you very much. (audience applauding) – It’s really exciting. So, I think what I’ll do is I’ll just ask all of you, I’m sure everyone has a lot of questions, but I too have some questions, so I think I’ll just start
out by asking a question. Jean, you were at the Daniel Langlois Foundation, and one aspect that we haven’t
discussed all that much today is the role of the archive, and that was something that you were very involved with there, and I just, somebody, I think we did talk a little bit about developing collections, and the cost of developing collections, and another aspect of
collection development, and production, on the part of the museum, has to do with the archive, and I wonder if you could just
speak to that a little bit, in terms of digital content
and dealing with archives. – Yes, thank you for asking. It gives me the opportunity
to mention a few things. For instance, when I got at
the Daniel Langlois Foundation, I was just coming out
of the National Gallery. The National Gallery has a huge library. So, if you do research in any subject pertaining
to the visual arts, it’s full of documents, books, catalogs, everything, and they have, obviously, archives about Canadian artists, but being media arts curator, I couldn’t find very much there. Obviously, I triggered the gallery to buy more books about media arts, video art, and all those things, but by and large it was very few. So, I realized that there was a need for a documentation center dedicated to media arts, new media, digital art. So, when I arrived at the
Daniel Langlois Foundation, I created what we called Centre for Research and Documentation, and we acquired archives, basically. Very few works, basically no works of art, a few video tapes, but
basically it was archives, and such archives as Steina and Woody Vasulka archives, which is in Montreal, the 9 Evenings of Theatre
and Engineering archive. Basically, for those interested, because we heard about it this morning, the paper archive of 9 Evenings are at the Getty in Los Angeles. In Montreal, what we have
is the audiovisual archives, so we have all the original footage from 1966, and then video footage that Billy Kluever created in the ’90s, because he was doing documentaries about each of the performances. So, all that material is at Montreal, and plus other archives. So, we tried to develop this collection of documentation and archives. What happened then is that it’s all good as long as your
financial backer is there. My financial backer, Daniel Langlois, eventually decided to pull the plug, so that’s why, nowadays, we don’t hear about Daniel
Langlois Foundation anymore. While it was very well-known during between 2000 and 2010, so talking about collections this morning, I think collections are very exciting. It’s a very exciting endeavor to develop a collection, but you have to have the means. It’s very costly, the
preservation is a cost, and it takes a lot of space, and I could go on and on, because I have experience after that at the Cinematheque Quebecoise, which is, in Canada, the
largest private film collection, holding 300,000 film reels for 50,000 titles. So, there again, you need huge storage, cold storage, different temperature,
different types of storage, so it’s huge, and very, very, very costly, and digital preservation,
it’s even more complicated, and even more costly. – Thanks. Hopefully we can pick up on that. David, you mentioned something at the very beginning of your talk about social disability, a kind of philosophy
of the disabled person within society, and many years ago I worked with the BC
Coalition of the Disabled, and I remember we were
working on this premise, this idea, and one of the theories was that, when you look at the disable-bodied person as someone who needs to be, quote-unquote, fixed in some way, that that is the abnormal state of being, that society as a whole, actually, misses out on something really important. Whereas, if you see that what you think of as a disability is actually something that can pass a lot of
knowledge on to other people, then the whole of society
actually benefits, and your technologies
actually seem to be doing that in a very, very interesting context, and it makes me think that there must be a lot of spinoff and transferability of the
knowledge that you develop toward more general social situations, and I wonder if you could speak to that. – Well, there’s a lot there. (laughs) I think, I mean, first and foremost, I think the important thing
that anything that we do, in terms of responding to the needs of someone who’s deaf, or
someone who’s disabled, is it’s going to enrich all of us. The experience is gonna be
enriching for all of us. So, but yeah, I think the whole thing about ability, as opposed to disability, and I think the other thing, too, is like there’s no lumping people together into a sort of a definition, as we’re all individual. We’re all unique. We all have experiences, and when you’re given the opportunity to express that experience, or given, so to speak, a voice, it’s an entirely different perspective. I think one of, well, there’s all kinds of things
that are sort of have to happen, and are happening in this movement, and that is critical evaluation: how do we look at, how
do we examine this work? Who examines it? Where does this information,
where’s the context come from? What’s the language that we use? I think all of that has to be changed, and it all has to come
from those communities. So, I guess what I would also say is, in terms of issuing, sort
of, a challenge to everyone, is that if you, we do have to go in this
direction, first and foremost, because we do have an aging population, in addition to the normal sort of population
of disabled or deaf. So, is that, is to bring those people
into your staffing, bring people from those
communities in to meet, talk about what they would
imagine this space to be like. One of the things that
was interesting yesterday, and I’m sorry, I forget his name, the fellow from Montreal Indigenous, man from Montreal, and the
Indigenous Future project. I mean, that would be amazing if we could develop something like that, that could come from the deaf community or disabled community, and I know that we’re all familiar with this sort of new
funding program, system, available through the arts
councils, which is remarkable, and the definitions, of course, deaf and disabled are very
distinctively different. We have to explore that very carefully. There’s all kinds of, Eliza Chandler, who I quoted earlier, says that her position is that all disability arts is political, and so I think in that, I’m very excited about that. (laughs) I’m very excited about the
politics involved around that, and I think, yeah, be open, and invite people in, and have that discussion. I hope that’s helped. – No, I think that’s
the, you’ve got to it, the political aspect of
how it has the potential to challenge the sort of
hegemonic position of the museum and the colonial past
of the museum indirectly to really break it down. So, it’s really, really fascinating. It’s a huge area, and that
brings me to you, Zach, because I really, I see your vision and your ideas as really potentially challenging
the space of the museum, but in a way that makes
it far more relevant, so I’m gonna ask you a really,
really pointed question here: you’re in this space, the
Robert McLaughlin Gallery, and if you could do one thing that would involve augmented reality, or would involve the shared
space of virtual reality, how would you do it? What would you do? What would be one thing
that you would do here, in this museum today, if you were given free
run, to open up the space? – Okay, that is putting
me on the hot seat. I guess, as I look around
within this gallery, there are so many different references to histories, social histories. There’s a lot, as we talked
about earlier in the day, this kind of tricky middle space of how things are curated and collated, and what the, no matter
the good intentions, what the kind of, those are all informed by subjectivities, personal reasons, or maybe
the time dictates it, a current issue. So, when I look at a
gallery space like this, and obviously we have a few, there’s a few different
kind of camps of ideas going on in here, but one of the things that I hear, well, first of all, that
I read in, I look a lot at the area of interpretive
planning in museums. This is the design of communication, and how different age
levels are spoken to, through the didactics,
through the exhibition design, and one thing that’s really prominent
in our culture right now, that I think that’s informed
by post-Internet culture is that there’s a real
tendency to want to know, to see things in a referential way, to see things as, in a way, kind of just linked,
inherently, to one another, and to be, that everything
has this kind of, this backstory behind it that,
normally, through our phones, we can access at least
some of it very easily. So, I think, in a space like this, maybe let’s limit it just
to within this gallery that we can see right
now, I think through, and it wouldn’t necessarily
have to be through AR, ’cause some of the ideas that
I am working on right now have to do with analog ways to sort of mimic or recreate
virtual protocols and behaviors so that there’s ways to do that. I think that there can be
a kind of back and forth between those things, but especially through something like AR, to be able to see where these
images appear elsewhere, the kinds of major places and names that they’re associated with, and the idea we talked about
yesterday with tagging, and being able for people
to participate socially, and be able to tag and create those relations to other things, and for that to be visible for
other people to experience. So, I guess, in a kind of way, like a mapping of how
ideas and subject matters are interrelated, and it could exist in
a very text-based way, or it might, I guess, I would propose in a gallery it should be a very visual, enticing way. If you can, I don’t know, we have different age groups here, but like, um, (laughs),
anybody a fan of Donnie Darko, the movie Donnie Darko? (laughs) So, like, maybe there’s
just a little glowing orb that sort of like leads you
from one relation to the next, from piece to piece. I don’t know, Srinivas will have to sort of attest to the viability of that, but I think there are ways to do it that doesn’t disrupt the
aesthetics of the work itself. It adds to it, and can drive you spatially
through the museum, through the gallery experience. – Good, well, that’s, okay,
two more minutes, apparently. Okay, Srinivas, you
don’t have a lot of time for this very, very difficult question. The artist Harun Farocki has talked about, in terms of virtual reality and the image, the breakdown of indexicality between the virtual and the referential, and I wonder, in terms of
the work that you’re doing, I mean, a couple of years
ago I was in Toronto, and I saw a work that was done by a group of artists
who came from Berlin, who put together something
called Situation Rooms, and I think Situation Rooms used a lot of this sort of
augmented reality technology that you’re talking about, using the iPad, and I just wonder, in terms
of where this is going, so you seem to have an idea
of where this is going, what’s gonna happen to that indexical relationship to reality? – That’s a good question. There’s a few ways things are
gonna go, like they always do. Virtual reality is really
an immersive experience that can be anything, and refer to nothing that
you may know or care to know, and we have really resolutely
stayed away from that space, and the path that we take is
really contextual knowledge. So, that’s why I talked
about how important position of the user is, because if you know where they are, then you can give them an experience, or information that is
relevant, contextually, to them and to the
environment that they’re in, or to the object that
they’re contemplating, and the stories that are
relevant to that place, that object, to that person, and I think that’s where
things are really gonna go. When we look at the
distribution capabilities of augmented reality, in
terms of the mobile phones, and how big it’s gonna be,
and how big it already is, I mean, this year there’s
more than a billion devices that are capable of it, and that’s the argument I make to finance this crazy
thing that we’re doing at Dundas Square. It’s like, well, a lot
of people can see this. So, it’s, and I think that’s where we’re
gonna see a lot of traction, and a lot of interest, is because
it brings value to people. I mean, the less indexical
that relationship is, the less valuable it is on so many levels, to your average individual. It may be meaningful in
any number of other ways, but those are unique and
particular to that work, and that person, but in general, I think we’re gonna see is more and more indexical relationships between virtual content and real things.

Danny Hutson

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