Elektra – the 4th annual International Digital Art Exhibition (BIAN), is dedicated to contemporary digital art. Held at Montreal’s cavernous Arsenal, the massive space was needed. WHISPERS by Quebec-based Light Society was a sky-high billowing piece. It looked like Saran Wrap on steroids as it soared 30’ into the air with its wind-driven its playful movements. Caroline Monnet’s LIKE SHIPS IN THE NIGHT was shown on a floor-to-ceiling screen. The video documented her twenty-two day journey across the Atlantic Ocean. The piece is not just a National Geographic pretty picture. The artist critiqued the colonial, industrial and economic interchange between Canada and Europe.
PORTRAIT ON THE FLY. Christa Sommerer and Laurent Migonneau are internationally renowned media artists. The professors head the Interface Cultures Master Program, University of Art and Design, Austria. Their interactive installation consists of a monitor that shows a swarm of a few thousand flies. When the viewer positions themselves in front of the monitor the insects form the contour of that person. The portraits are thus in constant flux as they construct and deconstruct.
WOODEN MIRROR, Daniel Rozin…is – as the title implies – a mirror made of wood multiple pixel-like facets. Each is equipped with a motor which allows them to change position, creating a play of light and shadow. Thanks to a camera system linked to a computer, the interactive piece explores the boundary between digital and physical space by turning pixels into material – wood. The viewer is an integral part of the work which transforms from an inert wooden surface to renewing portraits.
Installations were not all anonymously ‘techy’ and selfie-referential. UK artist Ed Fornieles’ MOTHER AND TULIP FEVER. offered works as part of The Finiliars, the ongoing series created by the artist during a 2016 residency at Arsenal contemporary. Adapting the popular collectibles of Japanese kawaii culture and evoking the digital toy pet Tamagotchi, The Finiliar re-images currencies as soft, globular figures whose range of emotions come to evocatively symbolize the perpetual flux in global monetary values. While the Mother sculpture embodies the idea of affection and maternal care, the video Tulip Fever considers the possible relations between Finiliars—from celebratory champagne guzzling to tear-jerking.
Although the Biennale is over, luckily Montreal’s Galerie ELEKTRA offers pioneering works.