Fall, 2014

Yes it has been months since I have posted a blog – evident of varied and busy life. Summer months were spent out of the city, allowing me to indulge in gardening and country life and visits to Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound. Back in the city, reestablishing myself and preparing for another week at Art Toronto as curator and representative for The Dopamine Collective.  Below is a statement I wrote about the collective – based in Owen Sound  – keeping me connected to that part of life/work.

The Dopamine Collective is a group of like minds identifying as scientists creating and re-contextualizing their findings within artistic expression.

The concept of multi disciplinary work of the scientist/artist is not new  – Renaissance ideals exalted the collaboration – and its renewal surfaces regularly evident in the formation of affiliations such as the New Leonardos, ASCI and Synergy.[i]

When asked to curate for the Dopamine Collective – it was important for the director Sean Stewart to include a laboratory type table within the exhibition space. This was foreign to my sense of curatorial aesthetics, but I immediately saw the importance of the experiential component. Indeed this part of the exhibition space became a wonderful area of feedback and interaction, sparking interest from science minded attendees, artists, curators and allowing all observers to investigate further and in essence become part of a collective.

‘Collective Identities are Necessary, Progress Implies Them

 Artists always had the necessity of twisting identity norms, of building collective authorship creations to extend their art and emancipatory action. There is a solid tradition of pseudonyms, heteronyms, political art groups or movements, band names and artist collectives who included in their practice the postulate of defying the cult of the “individual genius” through the practice of sampling, djing, cut-up technics or in multiple identities playgrounds. With the use of web age technology, new fields of action have opened up and with its evolution new strategies appear. Ewen Chardronnet

The mutual agreement set by The Dopamine Collective to absorb all works into the collective under sole authorship echoes the anonymous craft behind scientific experimentation and breakthrough – that the general population may take for granted. Anonymous craft is not just an artistic ‘phenomenon’ but inherent in the domain of science where ambiguous authorship is standard practice.

This concept is investigated in the expertly executed works Camera Obscura #6 and Camera Obscura #23. The original radiographs, finely lit from the back are elevated to fine art status, elegantly matted within highly decorative frames evoking a neo Baroque or Victorian era. Here, the Collective created art objects that immortalize their scientific investigations through traditional exhibition formats, yet the authorship remains a collective rejecting the ‘individual genius’ as sole creator.

The use of radiographs as a means of examining objects is a recurring theme with the Collective. The playful, Gum Ball Machine, is ornately framed but this time painted in a glossy fire engine red. The imagery of an x-rayed sex toy decorated with glitter and pom-poms evoking fanciful notions pushes the boundaries of the preconceived role of the dedicated scientist/artist. Further, the collective’s use of sex toys and cameras in radiograph art are objects that explore ideas of privacy and exposure, adding another dimension to anonymous craft and authorship.

Was the call to form The Dopamine Collective based on a resurgence of Renaissance ideals or nostalgia? Or a personal need to free themselves from the lab coat persona, in order to share their science based findings in alternative venues.

Whatever the reason, it motivated the collective to create artwork of high standards both in its materiality and its meaning. Importantly, The Dopamine Collective reminds us of the history of authorship, anonymous craft and collective creative power. Here, the maker and the viewer consider what is to be revealed and what is to be concealed in our experience in the laboratory, in the studio, in our lives.

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