CV / Biblio

Has Digital Art Had Its Day?

Kevin Chong, The Globe And Mail, 2006

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[Review of Homemade Polygons]

In Homemade Polygons, opening this week at Bjornson Kajiwara Gallery, five emerging artists express their ambiguous and even antagonistic reactions to the influence of digital technology on art.

“In some ways, the work in this show offers a parody of digital clichés,” says guest curator Lee Henderson. He notes that the artists, all born in the mid to late seventies, take a handmade approach to the conceptualism that other artists have expressed using 3-D animation or Photoshop.

James Whitman

“I don’t really use the computer for art, but a number of my friends do,” says Whitman. “I might pick things up from the imagery they produce, but not from the ways they produce it.” Whitman’s diptych, Double Portrait , places a pair of biomorphic figures — part tree, part whiskered ogre — in a conventional landscape. “I’m trying to make figures that don’t really belong to your society or don’t have any social relation with you,” says Whitman. Matthew Brown

Brown’s portraits, such as “Zack ” above, originate from line drawings, which he then scans and manipulates digitally. His invented figures are not quite people but are presented in such a way that recognizably human features emerge.

“A lot of times the forms I’ve been making reference other archetypes — other icons, cartoons, Japanese animation, characters you might see in advertising,” says Brown, whose work will appear in a Vancouver ArtGallery exhibition this fall. Mark Delong

“I’m sometimes influenced by supplies, like liquid paper and markers,” says the self-taught artist Mark Delong, whom Henderson calls “the Tony Hawk of the collage.” Delong uses a computer in his practice, and a death-defying exuberance and a playful (and sometimes off-colour) humour in his collages such as “ Hippie Scum .”

Joey Haley

New Brunswick-based Haley (the only non-Vancouverite in the show) says he uses computer drawing to explore “optical effects that create movement and depth, colour schemes and composition” before applying these effects to traditional painting.

Haley’s paintings (including Strange Swan , above) render commonplace scenes eerie. For his latest series, he’s “drawing inspiration from parks and residential areas, lit at night by the moon and orange Tuscan lamps. I want this series to evoke a sense of nostalgia and mystery within the viewer.”

Eli Bornowsky

In addition to the video games of his childhood, Bornowsky cites electronic and Japanese “noise” music as influences. These genres use contrast and repetition to arouse self-consciousness, heightening audience awareness of their subjectivity. “With painting, I want looking and seeing,” says Bornowsky, who created this untitled piece. “I am interested in images that one looks at and thinks about looking [at] — of the eyes moving, focusing and unfocusing, and also of the mind thinking.”

Homemade Polygons opens July 6 and continues to July 29 at Bjornson Kajiwara Gallery, 1727 W. 3rd Ave.,  604-738-3500.