Home Arts Tech culture explored in “Art and the Digital”

Tech culture explored in “Art and the Digital”

by Olivia Ranger-Enns January 21, 2014
Tech culture explored in “Art and the Digital”

Who says there is nowhere to go in January on a cold, Montreal evening?

The third annual Concordia University Undergraduate Art History Conference will be held this week, and this year’s title is “Art and the Digital.” The conference promises to identify, discuss and refer to the marriage of anything technological to everything artistic. The theme addresses modern-day issues and tackles head-scratching questions such as authorship, the impact of social networking on the dissemination of images and the ever-changing role of the contemporary artist.

Keynote speaker Kent Monkman is the artist behind this video installation, composed of five large projections, which offers a contemporary re-interpretation of a traditional Aboriginal ritual featuring the Berdashe, that special male figure whose gender-bending behaviour and very existence astonished and appalled many explorers of the American West. Photo: Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Christine Guest. Photo: Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Christine Guest

The Concordian spoke to Clinton Glenn, the external coordinator of the conference. Glenn pinpointed the importance of technology.

“Technology is increasingly playing a role in our everyday lives,” said Glenn. “We are connected from the time we wake up until we go to sleep. The theme of “Art and the Digital” looks at the ways that artists are informed by technology and its impact on subjective experience.”

Glenn argued that technology has left a deep footprint on art and the way art is created.

“For example, photography has in a sense been democratized — we all have a camera and we can all be photographers. Previously one would have had to have money and training to work in a dark room,” added Glenn.

Attendees will be treated to a variety of shows with projects such as “Ecology: Recycled Landscapes,” “The Robotic Action Painter as Artist” and “Problems with Digitizing Propaganda: Memory, Experience, and Power.”

Having started three years ago, the goal of the event is to present students with the opportunity to showcase their art as well as for academics to voice their insights on the subject.

“As an art historian, I am used to writing in a sort of solitary bubble, and very few people get to read what I produce,” explained Glenn. “This conference is a great way to break out of that solitariness that comes with being an academic. It is also a great experience for art history students applying to graduate schools.”

Another reason to get out the mitts and boots and head over to the conference is the keynote speech. This year, the keynote speech will be given by Kent Monkman. The prominent artist, of Cree ancestry, dabbles in painting, film,video, performance and installation art. Well represented in the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Monkman can only be described as fresh wind stirring the art world. His paintings, bright in colours such as royal purples, harlequin greens and Crayola yellows, are emotionally stirring.

In much of Monkman’s work, art mirrors emotions, such as in “Struggle for Balance” which depicts an inflamed, damaged car, people in a fight, and an archangel coming to the rescue.

Additionally, Monkman’s films are political, with social commentaries that never shy away from criticism and introspection.

The conference will feature lectures and presentations from leading art historians and students from universities across Canada and the U.S.. It promises to be a valuable educational event for all students.

“Art and the Digital” will be held on Jan. 24 – 25 in the York Amphitheatre of the EV building (EV 1.605). For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit  cujah.org/conference.

Related Articles