Uii Savage at the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton
By Teagan Melnyk
Uii Savage is an exemplary Calgary-based artist who pushes the combination of science, technology and art. They have refined these three parts of themselves in the creation of the installation Celestial Passage, currently on display at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Amiskwacîwâskahikan, Treaty 6 territory. Her presence and energy, from the opening of the exhibition to her help with the production of this review, have been nothing but joyous. Her work strongly reflects this personal trait. They explore rare and unusual arrangements of visual elements, sound, technologically-inspired works and sensory experiences to create a space that she describes as “multidimensional.”
The location of Celestial Passage in the AGA atrium is quite brilliant. Right at the entrance, you’re met with shifting, vinyl symbols that lead your eyes into the wide, open space. The natural lighting and the expansive atmosphere contribute to how viewers can admire the work. This multifaceted installation includes a QR code, so viewers need a cell phone or tablet to experience it in its entirety. (Savage, along with the AGA, have kept in mind the importance of accessibility and make iPads available for those who do not carry personal devices.)
An augmented reality (AR) of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) satellite data is displayed in real-time and accompanied by artworks and a soundscape made by the artist that symbolize extraterrestrial and angelic figures. For this project, Savage was inspired by the Age of Aquarius, a magical time of uprisings, changes, and transformation. They represent just this changing world through the elements interacting in the installation, thus continuing the journey of an undeniable chemistry between art and science (pun intended).
After seeing the exhibition, I spoke with the artist over the phone. They described the angelic augmented reality figures and explained how “A.I. imagines Death Angels as mutant abject figures – a hybrid abstraction that’s part human, part animal, and part alien.” This insight adds an enchanting, seductive quality to the experience of Celestial Passage. Its intimate interactiveness requires a level of grace and grounding. You are in a wide, open space, turning the device you look down at every day to the sky, to see satellites hovering above us, represented by artworks designed by an extraterrestrial themselves (the artist’s bio refers to them as being an “intelligent, inspiring Venusian”). Savage is truly out of this world, and I encourage everyone to visit the AGA and step away from our small planet for a while.
Teagan Melnyk was born and raised in Treaty 6 Territory, Amiskwacîwâskahikan. Melnyk applies their creative intuitions in drawing, painting and music. Through commission-based projects, local collaborations and studying for her Bachelor of Fine Arts at MacEwan University, Melnyk has explored the Edmonton Art community and continues to develop her own vision along the way.