The work of visual arts students illuminating Toronto’s main plaza

For the last hour of each day in June, the giant screens that typically flash with advertisements above Yonge-Dundas Square are occupied by visual arts students who previously worked in sound studios and editing rooms in the same block as the downtown meeting point.

Instead, in one video passers-by see distorted versions of real-life toddlers dressed in products by parent social media “influencers” who get paid for placements.

“It just made me think, like baby photos, you consider them to be one of the most precious things you have in your life. So, I was wondering what the value of the human image is to it. “era of social media we live in?” said Nick Garel-Jones, creator of Children of the Internet (Generative AI Demo) and curator of the video section of the group show.

The piece uses an algorithm built by the fourth-year student that reads recurring patterns in all the samples he receives – eyes, nose, mouth, and facial features in general – and can extrapolate from that “to find new faces that he thinks are appropriate or look alike,” he explained.

In an enlarged portrait on one of the five screens in the plaza that the group of film and photography students took over, a viewer would see Andrew Donnelly, with parts of his genomic sequence written on the photographer’s body.

“It was this existential questioning of what it means to be able to see my entire physical being in a string of numbers on my computer,” said Donnelly, who sent a vial of saliva for sequencing last summer.

Donnelly, who organized the stills portion of the presentation, said much of the work his peers have done this year was more intimate than he was used to, more about themselves than on the world.

“A lot of people have chosen to turn in on themselves for their final project,” he said. “I think the state of the world still affects the art that is done there, and I really think you can see that in the work that has been done this year.”

It was the first time that the event showcased the experimental work of students in Ryerson University’s Image Arts Program (known as X University among some faculty and students as part of a review formal and informal debate on its name) was presented in the plaza.

The exhibition was an extension of the Rougher Film Festival, itself part of the school’s maximum exposure program to promote student work.

“It might be a romantic idea, but I imagine someone who previously had no interest in the arts walking in front of the screen and seeing something that really affects them,” Donnelly said, while acknowledging the desire to see art in a gallery. .

“Art in an artistic space seems much more alive to me than this public space which is usually reserved for advertisements,” he said.

The oversized canvas also meant that some works, including web-based gaming environments and a sound-responsive visualizer for music, could not be displayed, but the collection was otherwise available in multiple media, analog film and photography, and digital, 3D animation, video game designs and music videos, Garel-Jones and Donnelly said.

Graduates said their final year of undergraduate study, like several thousand in Toronto, was mostly confined to their homes, which meant there was no easy access to facilities and equipment school, including a massive soundstage, more powerful computers and editing rooms, camera gear, and more experimental gear like VR headsets.

“It was tough. I feel in some ways that my last year of school was kind of taken from me,” Donnelly said. “But in many ways it helped me, and it might be a little narcissistic to say, but it has helped me understand how much I can persevere under difficult circumstances. ”

Access was particularly difficult for students who depended on the use of equipment at the school and lived further from campus, he said.

Garel-Jones says that while the early technical issues were overcome, distance learning had an impact.



“The most important thing was the lack of routine and structure, and Zoom’s fatigue overall really took its toll on us and the teachers too,” he said. “We have all been a little depressed. ”

He says many classmates have expressed their emotions over the course of the year and were able to channel them into introspection work.

“But it clearly worked because my classmates and I ended up with some really interesting end projects, and they’re all really unique in their own way.”

About Roberto Frank

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