“Cartoon Acid”: Between obsolescence and progress 

Connor Gottfried’s exhibition at S16 Gallery | Photo by Maya Ruel // The Concordian

Visual artist Connor Gottfried pays tribute to the technology of his childhood.

Jan. 1 is often synonymous with renewal and new beginnings. In 2024, the first of the year also happened to fall on a Monday, making this staple date even more symbolic – a new week, new month and new year all at once. As this new chapter begins, Canadian visual artist Connor Gottfried is right on theme with his first-ever exhibition, “Cartoon Acid,” which explores obsolescence and rebirth. 

Gottfried’s artwork was showcased at Montreal’s S16 Gallery from Dec. 14 to Jan. 7. It consisted of colourful, punk technological pieces made with aluminum and acrylic, all featuring some sort of game system from many decades ago, such as an old Nintendo screen or the original Pacman video game. Two Care Bears plushies were sat in the middle of the room wearing what resembled a VR headset with a front screen playing the original Care Bear comics in  loop. 

Gottfried is an artist, a musician, and a “technologist” per his own words, based in Calgary, Alberta. He is the CEO of a company which develops e-learning softwares called Leara eLearning and has produced 25 music albums over the last thirty years as well. “I really like to explore the intersection of art and technology,” he said, “I was exposed to technology from a young age.  I’ve always been fascinated by screens and interactions.” Gottfried started integrating screens and video games into his artwork a few years ago, which led to the creation of more psychedelic pieces such as seen in “Cartoon Acid.”

The exhibition was inspired not only by the artist’s childhood but also by the rapid pace at which technology has evolved since he was a kid. “My works are about the technology of my childhood, but also about technology’s childhood. There was a time where technology was more innocent, still developing, where we played together with technology. Now, it is evolving  into artificial intelligence: it has started growing into its own adulthood and maturity,” Gottfried said. His artwork is an homage to those candid moments of joy he has shared during his childhood with what is now obsolete technology.

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