“Visitors are generally surprised that it is student work,” says Kerr. “The standard for quality is high. They are also surprised to see painting. A lot of our previous exhibits have included photography, video and sculpture.”
Masters of Visual Studies student Bogdan Luca is the exhibit’s curator. Last June, Luca began looking for relevant art pieces in major art schools across the GTA. The spectrum of work exploring the dichotomy between traditional art media and digital technology represents students from U of T, Ryerson, Guelph, York, and OCAD.
“Our connection with digital technology is something we must consider, as painters,” says Luca, “There is a nostalgia of the perceived loss of painting, which is generating a return to the traditional media.”
A memorable piece is Ryerson Fine Arts student Michael Lawrie’s “Efficient Mondrian,” a computer program which uses algorithm to design and project a new version of Piet Mondrian’s iconic De Stijl paintings every few minutes, then periodically loads the images onto the artist’s own twitter feed.
“It represents the collision between the material and the immaterial," says Luca. "One of the admirable things about the Mondrian paintings is that if you look closely, you can see the physical brushstrokes: the material work. Here that element is gone.”
When the pair are asked how the exhibit defines the relationship between the digital and the traditional, the ambivalence persists. “The artwork doesn’t present a solution, so much as it presents a question mark,” says Kerr. A poignant question mark, too, as the art world is met by the difficulties (or, more accurately, facilities) of digital technology.
“It’s about putting a face on the technological world," adds Luca, "looking at the world through machine eyes.”
Facing the Screen runs through to December 19th, at the UTAC student art lounge at University College.