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The Best from the West in 2012
Sarah Todd
January 03, 2013

Since 2012 has come to a close, it is time for an obligatory end-of-year list-icle. Rather than mess with the tried and tested year-in-review structure, I will keep it straightforward. Here are five Art + Tech highlights from Vancouver (plus one from just outside the city limits) over the past twelve months and in no particular order.

1. Anamnesia: Unforgetting at VIVO Media Arts Centre, November 15 - 29

This series of three video screenings from VIVO's extensive archive points to an ongoing interest in moving image archives. Anamnesia brought together three ambitious programs of recently restored, little seen videos curated by Alex Muir, Cecily Nicholson, and Donato Mancini. While archival programming is a firmly ingrained trope at this point, Anamnesia was particularly interesting in that documentary, video art, film, performance documentation, and other odds and ends were presented fluidly across each program. I look forward to the forthcoming publication and box set.

WALLPAPERS at New Forms Festival 12

2. WALLPAPERS at New Forms Festival, September 13 - 16

Vancouver-based collective WALLPAPERS (Nicolas Sassoon, Sara Ludy, and Sylvain Sailly) make site-specific installations with various animated GIF motifs. This particular incarnation made for New Form 12's cavernous hangar venue was spectacular. The projections were enormous, bright, and completely immersive. The work more than held its own with the various DJs it shared the space with. WALLPAPERS, it turns out, was literally made for this kind of thing. If only media art could be this dance-crazed and sweaty more often.

Barry Doupe, The Colors that Combine to Make White are Important, 2012

3. The Colors that Combine to Make White are Important by Barry Doupe at DIM Cinema, Pacific Cinematheque, December 10

Making it just under the wire for 2012, Vancouver-based animator Barry Doupe's newest feature-length work screened last week and I am still recovering. The 119-minute computer animated tour de force follows workers at a failing Japanese glass factory through a surreal odyssey of intrigue, desire, and ennui. The Colors... is truly like nothing I have ever seen before, supporting my claim that Doupe is one of the hardest working (and under-recognized) artists in Canada today.

Frances Stark, My Best Thing, 2011

4. My Best Thing by Frances Stark at the Contemporary Art Gallery, February 3 - April 15

This feature-length animation uses transcripts from an online relationship between artist Frances Stark and two strangers as a point of departure to create an almost uncomfortably personal meditation on her life and creative process. The collapse between public and private, personal and professional, all fed through very funny cartoon avatars and dirty talk, resonated deeply with me. The work warranted repeat viewing; I think watched it at least once a week for the run of the exhibition.

Andrea Bozic, After Trio A, 2012

5. After Trio A by Andrea Bozic at Push Festival, February 2 - 4

In this surprisingly gripping live performance, Amsterdam-based choreographer Andrea Bozic, pays homage to iconic artist, filmmaker, and choreographer Yvonne Rainer by working through her famous dance Trio A. Bozic avoids the tired trend of re-performance by creating a dialogue with the original through video and pedagogy: two dancers must learn the dance cold in front of the audience and guided by a video document of Rainer herself performing the work. Through the repetition of moving image and moving bodies, an important commentary emerges around how we historicize the ephemeral, pointing to the failings of both technological mediation and embodied memory.

Bonus highlight: Cao Fei at the Surrey Art Gallery, April 7 - June 10

Not technically Vancouver (but close enough), the Surrey Art Gallery exhibited three recent works by Beijing-based artist Cao Fei as part of the multi-venue exhibition series Yellow Signal: New Media in China. Apocalypse Tomorrow, presented via the TechLab (the SAG's space for the production and presentation of digital art), is a flash game where the viewer must traverse a visually striking architectural and historical mash-up as a very serious surfing monk. Working across real and virtual worlds, Fei effectively probes the frustrations of interactivity and spectatorship, drawing out important questions about how we participate IRL.



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