Durham Art Gallery: Comtemporary Canadian Art

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InterPlay Exhibit

Friday, June 10 - Sunday, July 17, 2011


InterPlay features interactive artworks by Steve Daniels and Isabella Stefanescu. In very different ways, these two artists guide us to an understanding of the relative autonomy of an artwork.


As a proxy for communication or as an independent agent, this exhibition and these works underscore some of the themes running through the festival: the role of the viewer, and the landscape of the network.


In Steve Daniels’ work, Sessile, a colony of creature-like objects respond to our presence and to each other by opening and closing their limbs. Although the individual creatures share a common form, each reacts to their experience of the world in subtly different and often surprising ways. As fellow creatures, we become aware that our presence can calm or irritate these buggy beings, and we are forced to choose what role we want to play in their lives. Just like in our other relationships, we may encounter passive, aggressive or defensive reactions to our decisions. As in his other work, Daniels creates an engagement between humans and machines that is experienced as mutual exploration and not simply unidirectional control.

The Notebook Project, by Isabella Stefanescu, opens up and exposes the artist’s process for physical manipulation by the viewer. Using her own sketchbooks from the 1990s, Stefanescu creates wall-sized projected images that depict unfinished drawings, washes, elaborations and erasures. Viewers create a narrative interaction with the pages by moving stones around in the architectural space – the very antithesis of a virtual experience – while the images and a soundtrack respond accordingly. In these ways Stefanescu reveals the artist’s notebook as a kind of place, similar to a studio, for thinking, musing and creating. The Notebook Project was created in collaboration with Rob Gorbet, Nick Storring and Nathan Saliwonchyk.

While both pieces in the InterPlay exhibit react with us, they also spark a dialogue with each other about the relationship between the artists, the viewer and the work.


Steve Daniels

Peterborough, Canada

As an artist Steve Daniels uses electronics and communication technologies to create kinetic sculptures, ubiquitous spaces and networked events. Through his practice Daniels juxtaposes disparate knowledge systems and experiences in an effort to reveal their underlying structures and assumptions. His works seek an engagement between human and device that is experienced as mutual exploration not simply unidirectional control. Daniels has recently presented his work at Nuit Blanche (guerrilla intervention), DigiFest, Mobile Nations, Together Elsewhere and Future Sonic.


Isabella Stefanescu

Kitchener, Canada

Isabella Stefanescu was born in Romania and came to Canada as a teenager. Awarded a Descartes scholarship at the University of Waterloo, she studied mathematics, fine arts and art history. She then spent two formative years drawing, painting and teaching in Britain and France. Back in Waterloo Region she was one of the founding members of Globe Studios, Kitchener's only artist run centre, and a founder of  CAFKA . In 2007 Stefanescu was awarded the K.M. Hunter Prize for emerging  interdisciplinary artists.


CrissCross Exhibit

Common Pulse invited five artists to come and make new work, and CrissCross is an exhibit of their creative output. Laura Kikauka, Jessica Field, Ken Gregory, Andrew McPherson and Karo Szmit transformed the Durham Art Gallery into a shared artist studio during the three weeks leading up to the festival. There they are creating new objects, machines, soundscapes and images that respond to a synchronizing digital signal (i.e. ‘the common pulse’).


The Artists-in-Residence...


Karo Szmit

Remember Me

Using a very simple gadget – a replica of an option encountered when logging onto a website – Karo will welcome and admit you to the opening of the Common Pulse Festival.



Friday, June 10 - Sunday, July 17, 2011