URL:IRL at Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina

The latest exhibition from the curatorial team at the Dunlop Art Gallery is every bit the overwhelming, Baudriardian hyperreality suggested by its title: URL:IRL. Curators Blair FornwaldJennifer Matotek, and Wendy Peart have filled the gallery’s virtual and actual exhibition spaces with artworks by nineteen artists in media ranging from virtual reality experiences and websites to videos and ceramics.

Kaley Flowers‘ pastel-glazed, decal-covered ceramic works are a compellingly corporeal examination of money, value, and worth. A playful reimagining of the traditional piggy bank, her slug-bodied web-surfers or creepy arachnids squat on top of treasure boxes enclosing cryptocurrency keys. To access the online funds, one must shatter these exquisite porcelains.

Sarah Rothberg, Touching a Cactus, 2017, virtual reality (photo: Don Hall)

The premise of Sarah Rothberg‘s instructively-titled virtual reality work Touching a Cactus is straightforward. When simulated digits brush against a 3D rendering of a cactus, the whole scene lurches and is replaced by one with an entirely different visual style. After a few touches, the artist ups the ante from “touching” to “being” a cactus: my virtual limbs turned green and sprouted spines. I swatted a balloon that appeared from nowhere and popped it. To experience something I had never thought to imagine – cactus hands – was a revelation and the core of this work’s unexpected appeal.

Monumentalisms by Scott Benesiinaabandan is a sombre counterpoint to Touching A Cactus. What looks like a lump of melted metal, roughly the size and shape of a TV remote control (but is actually a thermoplastic form printed from a scan of a found piece of metal), is recast as a landscape to be explored by the disembodied virtual explorer. The digital realm has opened the door to find wonder and nobility in a piece of junk.

Other exhibition highlights include Maya Ben David‘s ironically sexy cosplay videos in which she poses as an Air Canada jet and a popcorn ceiling, Barry Ace‘s Métis beadwork patterns fashioned from electronic resistors and transistors, and Nandan Ghiya‘s framed images deformed to reproduce the look of a computer graphics glitch.

URL:IRL continues until September 16.
Dunlop Art Gallery: https://www.reginalibrary.ca/dunlop-art-gallery 
The gallery is partially accessible.

Sandee Moore is a nationally exhibited artist, arts administrator, and occasional art writer. She can be followed on Twitter @SandeeMoore.