by Gordon Hatt
Curatorial essay for an exhibition of the same title at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, 2008.
Modular Nature is an exhibition that responds to the suburban paradigm. The organizing principle of suburban development is the provision of maximum space for the cultivation of nature within the economics of an affordable built environment. Homes and residential buildings are buffered from each other and from roadways with lawns, gardens and trees and are zoned apart from business and industry. The value of cultivated nature in the suburb thus creates the characteristically low population density.
The artwork in this exhibition is bracketed by and involves the cross fertilization of the influences of modularity and nature. Gareth Licthy (Kitchener, ON) adopts traditional basket weaving techniques to contemporary materials such as garden hose to create bio-morphic sculpture that is both sophisticated and minimal, ancient and contemporary. Ernest Harris Jr., (St. Catherines, ON) uses the modular children's building material Lego, to depict standardized Computer graphic icons, using them to symbolize the seven moral virtues. David Armstrong-Six (Montreal, QC) works with the standardized concrete drainage pipe, referencing its non functional adoption as a play-ground prop and as a site of adolescent refuge.
Sandor Ajzenstat (Toronto, ON) creates interactive sound sculpture that integrates musical sounds with visual pattern changes. His work plays with random synchronicity in a closed system and visually references hi-fi stereo equipment from the 1960s and 70s. Andreas Rutkauskas's (Montreal, QC) photographs fluctuate between a romantic interest in sublime mountain vistas and the reality of development. Kristiina Lahde's (Toronto, ON) work is characterized by the encounter of computerized repetition and labourious craft of hand-cut paper. Gunilla Josephson's (Toronto, ON) video adopts a gazebo in an idyllic wooded area as a performative site. Eric Glavin (Toronto, ON) focusses on computer generated Images of common functional architecture. As structures for living the geometric regularity of these images is simultaneously compellingly attractive and mechanistically repellent.
The work of these artists causes us to reflect on the intersections of nature and chaotic systems with technology and modularity in the life we live.