Ghosts of the Machine Exhibition at the Polygon Gallery

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The Polygon Gallery presents Ghosts of the Machine, a new group exhibition by curator Elliott Ramsey that looks at the relationships between humans, technology, and ecology. The exhibition features a new commission by Cease Wyss (Skwxwú7mesh), in addition to works by Ho Tzu Nyen, Juliana Huxtable, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Lu Yang, Skawennati, and Santiago Tamayo Soler.

Ghosts of the Machine Exhibition at the Polygon Gallery
Top: Santiago Tamayo Soler, Retornar; Right: Skawennati, Birth of an Avatar; Lu Yang, Heaven Realm #1

Ghosts of the Machine Exhibition

  • When: Gallery hours Wednesdays to Sundays
  • Where: 101 Cates Court, North Vancouver
  • Admission: Admission to The Polygon Gallery is by donation, made possible through generous, multi-year support from BMO Financial Group.
    • Public programming related to the exhibition will take place on Thursday evenings throughout the summer. Two short film programs will be screened, in addition to VR experiences curated and programmed by IM4. Wyss and her daughter, Senaqwila Wyss, will host talks and nature walks in Harmony Gardens, their community gardens located on unceded Skwxwú7mesh lands.

“The term ‘ghost in the machine’ refers to the mind-body duality: the idea of the ‘mind’ as software inhabiting the ‘body’ as hardware,” says Ramsey, who curated Interior Infinite at The Polygon last summer. “Such binaries aren’t real. The mind doesn’t exist without the body. The same can be said about technology. We try to split the ‘virtual world’ from the ‘real world,’ but virtual spaces rely on material hardware — with ecological implications — and are experienced physically. Similarly, we have real social and political interactions on digital platforms. We can’t constrain reality into ‘real’ and ‘virtual;’ we end up sliding across these boundaries like ghosts through walls.”

The international group of artists in Ghosts of the Machine reminds us that despite its otherworldly lustre, cyberspace cannot be separated from the “real world”. It is an extension of our societies, economy, and ecosphere. Through the glowing interfaces associated with digital media, these artists constantly point back to the world offline. By defying the imaginary boundary between online and offline worlds, they slip across other made-up binaries: between human versus nonhuman, technology versus nature. They reveal how these things do not exist in opposition to each other, but are in fact continuous and fluidly interconnected.

About the Pieces

Cease Wyss’s new commission is a garden project inside the gallery. Wyss will tend to the plants throughout the exhibition as a durational performance and installation. Featured prominently in the garden will be an augmented reality experience by the artist and award-winning producer Tracey Kim Bonneau (Syilx). Wyss and Bonneau are both members of Indigenous Matriarchs 4 (IM4), a lab dedicated to helping Indigenous communities incorporate virtual and augmented reality into educational, cultural, and commercial applications.

Singapore’s Ho Tzu Nyen’s No Man II is an installation work that features a projection on a two-way mirror with multi-channel surround sound, bringing the viewer into close proximity with dozens of avatars — human, beast, and hybrid — who quote John Donne’s “No Man Is an Island,” reminding us of the interconnectedness of all things.

New York-based artist, poet, and DJ Juliana Huxtable bridges internet subcultures and performance through her self-portraiture, posing in her work ARI 1 as a trans-species entity to embody the fluidity and instability of our contemporary online spheres.

Berlin-based Anne Duk Hee Jordan’s Ziggy and the Starfish will feature an interactive sculpture that is modelled after cresting waves and is covered in blue shag carpet. Furnished with bean bags and pillows, the structure creates a small theatre where visitors can watch otherworldly sea animals seduce one another.

Lu Yang’s Doku: Digital Alaya series speaks to how avatars embody slippage, signalling the relationships between human, nonhuman, and cyborg life. The Shanghai-based, rising international art star’s work was last seen at The Polygon’s fall 2020 exhibition Third Realm.

Skawennati’s bold, bright machinimagraphs — images captured in virtual scenarios — showcase her dimension- defying avatar created in Second Life. The Montreal-based artist uses virtual environments as a tool to make work that addresses history, the future, and change from an Indigenous perspective.

Santiago Tamayo Soler creates pixelated universes home to Latin American, immigrant, queer stories of a radical futuristic fantasy. The Montreal-based artist’s work Retornar weaves together a parable of queer avatars and an earth in crisis.

Join the opening night reception on June 2nd at 7:00pm.

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