By Nisha Gill, Contributor

Tucked away between bakeries and boutiques in Hamilton’s downtown core, Factory Media Centre (228 James St. North) is somewhat  isolated from the hustle and bustle. Housed within the artist-run centre, Hamilton-native Natalie Hunter merges photography, video projection and sculpture to create a space to reflect on questions  questions of memory, home, time and light.

A collection of photo-based works created over the last four years, “sensations of breathing at the sound of light” is different Hunter’s typical pieces. The artist’s work has been exhibited across Canada and the United States, almost always in well-lit, neutral-coloured spaces, contrary to the conditions that are present in the Factory Media Centre.

“Factory Media’s space is quite cinematic, and it’s a challenging space because it doesn’t have accurate lighting like most white cube gallery spaces. Working with [Factory Media Centre] coordinator Kristina Durka, we decided to work with the darkness of the space and curate works that create light, in addition to reacting with its kinetic qualities,” Hunter explained.

When viewers enter the Factory Media Centre, it is immediately apparent that the space is as much a part of Hunter’s exhibition as are her works. The visible cables and wires, the naturally limited and cinematic lighting and the openness of the space all compliment Hunter’s work. This interaction between the space and the work allows for the viewer to reflect on the work and the influence of memory and home, furthering the incredibly unique and immersive experience that comes with viewing it. 

“Allowing a photograph to become a physical encounter rather than a picture on a screen or in a frame. And I think “Sensations of breathing at the sound of light” really questions areas between screen space and physical space, and how they influence memory, the senses, and perceptions of time in the present moment. Stillness and motion can be experienced at the same time,” said Hunter.

Hunter’s pieces themselves are created using a combination of film, colour filters and lights that allow a moment in time to be captured not only as a photograph, but as something physical that interacts with the space around it.

“I think my work is different in terms of my consideration of materiality in image making and hybrid forms of sculpture and photography. Allowing a photograph to become a physical encounter rather than a picture on a screen or in a frame. And I think  ‘sensations of breathing at the sound of light’ really questions areas between screen space and physical space, and how they influence memory, the senses, and perceptions of time in the present moment,” said Hunter.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3IPsBtHZtJ/

Hunter described the exhibition as a conversation between her and Durka, but also as a space for conversation between herself and the viewers of her exhibition.

“An artist’s job is to provide the conditions for an experience so that a dialogue or conversation can exist between artist and viewer. A conversation that a viewer may draw meaning from or pose further questions, perhaps not immediately, but eventually, through the work. I hope that a viewer is drawn into the work for its visceral and emotive qualities, but keeps them there long enough to contemplate the nature of time, memory, and our relationships to the spaces we create for ourselves,” said Hunter.

“Sensations of breathing at the sound of light” interacts with the space it is housed in to immerse the viewer in the works and encourage them to reflect on important questions about the nature and perceptions of the time, as well as the spaces that we interact with.

The closing reception for “Sensations of breathing at the sound of light” will be on Friday, October 4, 2019 at the Factory Media Centre (228 James St. North) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Hunter will be in attendance.

 

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Photos by Razan Samara

This past weekend, K-pop superstars BTS landed in Hamilton for three sold-out stadium concerts. Nestled among the three multi-million dollar performances was Magic Shop:  A Celebration of BTS and the Magic of Self-Love, a group art exhibition at the Factory Media Centre.

The exhibit was dedicated to BTS fan art and ran from Sept. 21 to Sept. 23. It featured media artwork created by local artists who love the boy band. The event also featured two workshops, one focusing on zine-making and the other on hybrid animation.

Hamilton 3D artist, Charlit Floriano, wanted to have an exhibit as soon as she heard that BTS was coming to play in the city. She became a fan a little over a year ago when a friend of hers sent her one of the band’s music videos. Instantly in love, Floriano became an avid consumer of the plethora of content that the group puts out.

BTS keeps its fans hooked with a constant stream of tweets and music. In the last year alone they have released three albums and countless music videos. The visually stunning videos have made art a key part of the BTS experience.

“I think the visuals do a really good of connecting everything. [I]t drew me in…[T]hat first video I watched, it was like the sets… the costumes, the makeup, all of it just blew me away as an artist,” Floriano explained.

The band’s aesthetics have inspired their army of fans to create their own art, Floriano among them. In the past she has made 3D models of the band members and for the exhibit she has created a virtual reality experience.

Floriano sees the creation of BTS fan art as narrative work. It serves as a way for fans to develop the band members’ characters as they are inspired by the real and idol personas that the group shares online.

She and the other artists that took part in the exhibition were also drawn to the themes present in the band’s music and style.  

“[I]n the West the way that [the band] deal[s] with masculine beauty is really different… [I]t's kind of more soft and feminine so it feels androgynous to us. And then the whole theme of loving yourself and just focusing more on… your career. It's not so romance-driven but it's also about friendship and owning yourself,” she said.

[pjc_slideshow slide_type="bts-fan-art-exhibit"]

 

These themes are part of what has made BTS so special to so many people. It is the reason why they have enough support to sell out the FirstOntario Centre for three nights and fill Jackson Square’s roof with 10,000 fans waiting for merchandise and a chance to take a picture with holograms of band members. Their fans are beyond passionate and creative.

Unfortunately, Floriano reports there is stigma associated with being a BTS fan, perhaps because they are a pop group or because they cater to younger audiences. Floriano doesn’t want those who love BTS to feel as if that their love is invalid or misplaced.

“[I]t's okay to like things because they're pretty or because it makes you happy…I also want[ed] to give a venue to the people I knew who are really into them and who are artists too…[BTS] is something I like drawing and it can be art [placed] in a gallery,” explained Floriano.

The art exhibit and concerts served as a way for the Hamilton BTS army to come together. By meeting people who love BTS and art, Floriano hopes people have been inspired to make their own BTS-inspired pieces. She believes that fan art is a gateway to real art.

 

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The first night of Supercrawl marked the beginning of the Factory Media Centre’s new exhibit, Fractalize 1: I’ve Loved You From Afar. The exhibit is the first of its kind in Hamilton and challenges how art can create an immersive experience for the audience.

The Fractalize series is an ongoing collaborative multimedia arts project created by artist and cinematographer Lesley Loksi Chan, composer and digital media artist Tony Vieira and musician Arthur Yeung.

Tony Vieira, who is also a McMaster graduate & senior researcher at York University’s Augmented Reality Lab, took the time to provide an insider’s perspective on the exhibit, whilst being careful not to reveal its secrets.

Vieira met Chan and Yeung through the Factory Media Centre, a resource centre that supports community based and artists’ projects. His idea was to create a fractal exhibit, where the art is delivered through a series of pieces and mediums over time.

I’ve Loved You From Afar follows the story of two characters, Richard and Elizabeth, and explores the themes of human behaviour, desire and distance.

Visitors at the Factory Media Centre can experience I’ve Loved You From Afar through virtual reality, but the exhibit is meant to be experienced beyond the gallery space, through nine other elements including a web app, video installations and even by following Richard and Elizabeth’s social media accounts.

“I always think of the tone of the story in a way that is similar to the way I experience dreams and memory, which is a little strange, not always linear, not always making sense.”

 

Tony Vlera
Artist

“It’s really an experiment in e-literacy. [We are] experimenting with the different ways a story can be told [while using] as many media as possible to engage the end user. I don’t think of [the audience solely] as a viewer, reader or a listener, because [the audience] is all of them, an end user, sort of like a video game,” said Vieira.

Each end user’s experience with I’ve Loved You From Afar is unique. The story is non-linear, there is no start or end. The story is also delivered with intentional gaps that are open to interpretation.

“I always think of the tone of the story in a way that is similar to the way I experience dreams and memory, which is a little strange, not always linear, not always making sense… that’s how memories and dreams work, we only remember certain bits of it, and our experiences [and desires] create the filler for the gaps or our brain fabricates what it needs to fill in the gaps,” explained Vieira.

For seven days, a new piece of I’ve Loved You From Afar is revealed to the end users, and each piece will lead up to the unveiling of the exhibit’s secrets at the closing reception on Oct. 18 at the Art Gallery of Hamilton Annex.

After all the pieces are revealed, end users will put the pieces together, and their desires and contexts will shape the narrative of the exhibit. Each individual will have their own story and unique takeaway from the experience.

I’ve Loved You From Afar can be experienced after Supercrawl by visiting the Fractalize web app.

The artists will also be holding workshops at the Factory Media Centre, a non-profit and artist- run resource centre on 228 James Street North that aims to advance the discourse of contemporary media through exhibitions, screenings and community programming.

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