Pending Install: Catalogue Essay by Kyle Zurevinski
The sentiment and possible oversight of notions such as "film will only become an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper" from the likes of Jean Cocteau propose the discourse between art and its accessibility. In a contemporary context, commonly-used and widespread technologies are still more expensive than pencils and paper. However, their accessibility and colloquial use are so strongly embedded in our societal dialogues to the point where a monetary-based comparison does not seem justifiable. Technology has the feasibility to enhance accessibility, and it can establish new spaces for artists to present their work while having it be engaged with by the masses. Biofeedback’s inaugural virtual exhibition Pending Install is using technology to create a platform for artist's work that challenges ideas solidified in the constructs of the gallery space and its experiences, pushing forward a narrative that technology can illicit inclusion and accessibility. Biofeedback is an interdisciplinary group of Saskatchewan artists composed of members Kelsey Ford, Lauren Warrington, and Emily Zdunich. Their exhibition Pending Install challenges the dogmatic principles of the gallery with a further accessible reality, using technology and alternative viewing experiences to foster an environment where any barriers to entry are optimistically forward-thinking rather than exclusive.
While the act of having a curated exhibition on an online platform has existed previously, Pending Install is being launched during a time in our history where the nature of its presentation is not considered a feature or a gimmick, it exists out of necessity and the collective’s curatorial vision, its context is reactionary, immediate, and timely. This exhibition is being displayed via an online 3D virtual gallery with the intention to provide a platform to artists in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pending Install has been developed by Biofeedback during a tumultuous and emotionally hectic point in our history, however, Pending Install showcases work that inherently reflects current and public notions while serving as a reference and response to isolation, social injustices, and economic affliction. This exhibition is installed within Biofeedback's very own virtual artist-run gallery, which the collective created for the purpose of Pending Install’s conception. The framework of an artist-run gallery successfully illustrates the DIY ethos of this project by thriving through necessity, working to bolster the work of artists, and challenging the existing canon of spaces for artists to create and express themselves within. Viewers engaging with Pending Install encounter a suggestion of physicality that questions the intentions of what a gallery space is meant to be. Pending Install does not replicate the gallery experience, it analyzes it and deconstructs the pre-conceived notions of how these codefined white cubes are meant to be interacted with and maintained. As the viewer navigates the exhibition, there are certain familiarities that reproduce the traditional gallery experience, however, these familiarities are based on our own physical understandings of how gallery spaces are expected to be navigated. By default Pending Install situates the viewer in a space that is comfortable, yet based in a completely different reality.
The works featured in Pending Install derive from 11 emerging artists whose works span a variety of mediums and subject matter, with their cohesion being expressed through a diversity of perspectives and collective need to respond to shared concerns via artistic expression. Pencil Dance 1 and Pencil Dance 2 are works by Brody Burns that express a feeling of interconnectedness and present notions of spiritual perspectives, while also exuding a kind of futuristic quality while hung on the digital walls of Pending Install. Negar Tajgardan's Family Reunion presents a physical quality that, while viewed in this virtual exhibition, blurs the lines of spatial recognition and the association between physical material and the real-world experience. The Last Home of the Lemurians by Zachary Knuttila is an installation inside this virtual exhibition that utilizes a mathematically generated 3D object to distort and abstract the view of a photograph placed directly behind it. A piece such as this showcases the possibility of a virtual installation, implementing a purely digital technique and presentation, while conceptually speaking to distorted points of view, one of which our world has at times recently felt as if it has been subjected to. Biofeedback’s own inclusion to the exhibition is the collaborative work we planted a seed, which exists as a centrepiece and fixture of engagement for the show, while also alluding to the cementing of this project, and projects to come. All of the artworks featured in Pending Install are true responses from each artist that is created through the lens of our evolving cultural climate and zeitgeist. Biofeedback has taken it upon themselves to establish documentation of these artistic responses that reads as both archival and cathartic.