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Ambi-valent Objects Exhibit

by Eva Amsen

Last week I wrote about the lecture I attended at York University. On Thursday I went to the art exhibit Ambi-valent Objects, which was part of the same program. It’s on until October 16, if you want to go there and have a look.

The artworks were created by teams of people with different background. Many people’s favourite was “Mental Fabric”: a giant printout of text from Gray’s Anatomy (the book, not the TV show) on which you could paste diamonds cut out of anatomy images onto diamonds that were printed in a mathematical pattern on top of the textbook printout. It represented the different ways in which we process information.

One of the other projects was a fragmented (stroboscopic) film of people dancing, inspired by bees. The film was projected in two rooms: the blacked out portions of one film were shown in the other room. But you could still follow the film, and it looked like the same film two times, even though there were black frames in different locations in either version.

Other artwork included a rhizome knitting installation, kaleidoscopes with insects in it, and a projection of visual interpretations of real-time high-energy subatomic particles.


Ambi-valent Object Pictures:

Dolores learning about the math/anatomy project

Me, being interactive under artist’s supervision.

Nadia looking through a kaleidoscope

Rhizomes/knitting project.


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Richard P. Grant October 13, 2009 - 6:26 AM

“One of the other projects was a fragmented (stroboscopic) film of people dancing, inspired by bees.”
You probably had to be there, huh?
Care to explain about the rhizome thingy? All I’m getting is irises.

Jennifer Rohn October 13, 2009 - 11:56 AM

I didn’t know that rhizomes could knit. Prehensile tendrils?

Eva Amsen October 13, 2009 - 3:05 PM

I didn’t understand the rhizome project while I was there. I looked at it for a long time, and read the description, but was still lost. It didn’t help that I didn’t know what a rhizome was… Apparently this is something I should be embarrassed about, but I never took _any_ botany classes. (I already had the “but you’re a biologist!” conversation. I wasn’t a biologist in undergrad, and my high school taught useful biology, like evolution, instead of plants.)
Anyway, I “found out”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhizome what rhizomes were, and that at least explained the chicken wire (kind of looks like it), but not entirely the knitting. Then I found “another page on wikipedia”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhizome_%28philosophy%29 about rhizomes as a philosophical term, and now it makes much more sense. The wasp-orchid analogy is a key image in that theory (I understood it better from “this blog”:http://jtdesert.blogspot.com/2006/12/wasp-and-orchid.html than from the wikipedia page ), and the knitted objects in the art project were all wasp-orchids. The little notes on there contained text about rhizomes that seem to have come from a version of “this text”:http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/courses/ed253a/kellner/deleuze.html and a lot of the phrases correspond to knitted structures. So, I guess the point of it was to visualize rhizomes (as philosophical and biological concepts) with knitted structures and chicken wire.
That last sentence I just wrote reminded me of something my philosopher friend Nadia (pictured above with kaleidoscope) said. She has a theory that scientists and artists have a difficult time communicating because scientists like making everything as simple as possible, reducing it to main concepts, while artists don’t work like that. I felt so sciency trying to sum up art in one sentence just now!

Richard Wintle October 13, 2009 - 5:01 PM

Call me a boor, but this kind of thing just makes me think of one word. Which I won’t repeat here, but it rhymes with ‘banking’.
Still, I’m all for interactive exhibits and public engagement, so point to them for that I guess.

Ken Doyle October 13, 2009 - 10:26 PM

Oh, interactive exhibits can be fun. If you get out to see them. Which I have not done for a long while, ‘cos I have no life…


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