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Steffanie Ling
Wallpapers & Emily Carr at the Vancouver Art Gallery
August 18, 2015

The fourth floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery is home to an on-going series of exhibitions that puts the work of Emily Carr in “dialogue” with artists working in British Columbia. Currently on display and timed with the 21st International Symposium of Electronic Art is the fifth installment of this program, which features multiple projector installations by Wallpapers (Nicolas Sassoon, Sylvain Sailly, and Sara Ludy) next to a salon-style room displaying Carr’s drawings and paintings of BC’s coniferous landscape.

Sarah Ludy, Acid Cloud (still), 2015, computer-generated animation

The floor-to-ceiling projections in the first two rooms show a compilation of animations that reference forests, mountains, and sky. Making connections between new media and painting usually results in something tenuous at best, but Ludy and Sassoon’s animations share some formal qualities with Abstract Expressionism and Pointillism that soften the digital touch. The slow permutations of her Acid Cloud push a nuclear palette across the walls in forms that morph back and forth between fluffy neon clouds and paint globules floating across a wetland.

Sassoon’s pixelated mountain range demonstrates the surprising faculty of computer graphics to distribute tone and shade – producing a mood Caspar David Friedrich might have approved of. Thin black arches and grids superimposed over the mountains refer to the architectural style in the second room (defined by its low-ceiling of gridded beveled squares), and point to the institutional influence over the discourse of landscape in art and, by extension, Carr the artist.

In response to patches of clear-cutting depicted in Carr’s paintings in the next room, Sailly’s VC_3 shows a pattern of white cylinders that ascend from the solid green background, collapse into smaller sections, and disperse, ghost-like, in all directions. Using sterile and simple shapes instead of overt natural imagery, mechanisms within the landscape can begin to be considered.

Vancouver Art Gallery:
Beyond the Trees: Wallpapers in Dialogue with Emily Carr continues until September 7.

Steffanie Ling's essays, criticism, and art writing have been published alongside exhibitions, in print, and online in Canada and the United States. She is the editor of Bartleby Review, an occasional pamphlet of criticism and writing in Vancouver, and a curator at CSA Space. She is Akimblog’s Vancouver correspondent and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram @steffbao.



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