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Friday, 09 September 2011 08:50

Art Gallery entangled in unique experiences

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By Jessi Gowan — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Art Gallery of Swift Current is offering a unique art experience this month, where viewers can take in two different exhibitions in the same space.

The exhibitions are touring the province through the Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils (OSAC) Arts on the Move Program, and provide an interesting look at some intriguing ideas.

Entangled, Twyla Exner’s collection of works, explores the relationships between cultural and natural production, consumption and waste, high and low tech, and biological and mechanical growth. Using e-waste materials, Exner creates art through an organic progression of de- and re-construction.

“As a social phenomenon, electronics and computing have become intrinsically woven into the fabric of society through bodies, spaces and objects,” she noted. “Although many electronic components are responsible for technological development, I have focused on the wire for this series of sculptures and drawings.”

Her work with wire began from an interest in creating a handmade object from industrial material. Weaving is a process that has been widely practised by many cultures all over the world throughout history, and is often considered to be one of the first technologies invented by humans. Using a similar technique as is involved with making baskets from grasses and tree parts, Exner created an ‘organic’ material out of industrial waste.

In basketry, the grasses, bark, and roots are searched for, selected, stripped down and separated, and finally woven. To create her unique artworks, Exner had to search for wire, strip off the outer casings and separate the strands in order to use them. The uses of the materials are also surprisingly similar — biologically, roots and branches assist life by transferring and transforming essential nutrients; wires perform the same action by transmitting energy and information to the machine they support.

As electronic technologies have freed humans from many of the tasks which in the past had to be performed by hand, it is often a concern humanity will lose its skills, knowledge and abilities to produce objects by hand. The hand weaving of the telephone wire intends to turn industrialization in on itself. Instead of using a machine to produce an object, it uses the hands to produce an object out of a machine.

“I view this process as reclamation of technology and a means of understanding it on historical and biological terms,” Exner explained. “My sculptures and drawings employ the notion of recreating the natural with the technological.”

Using wires, cords, and electrical connectors, she is able to imitate plant pods, root systems and human physiological forms, reproducing hybrids of technology and nature that appear to be growing, evolving, reforming, overtaking and/or devouring electronic infrastructures and architectural spaces. The artworks in the exhibition explore the general idea of the ‘system’ and how that relates to both the biological world and the world of electronic technologies.

Entangled will be exhibited at Art Gallery of Swift Current from Sept. 6 to Oct. 8.

A Coffeehouse Evening and Artist Tour will take place on Friday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m., as part of Culture Days.

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