Exhibit offers unique perspective on technology

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Spectators viewing the life-size figurative works of an Edmonton artist in the Okotoks Art Gallery over the next six weeks may look at technology differently.

Edmonton artist Daniel Evans’ thought-provoking exhibition Turgor, a series of large-scale drawings and collages of faceless, enigmatic figures that are hybrids of human, architecture and information systems puts a modern twist on folklore and mythology.

The exhibit will be on display at the Okotoks Art Gallery from Jan. 13 until Feb. 24 in the small gallery.

“It’s grounded in looking at folklore and mythology and how those narratives, those ways of storytelling, and that visual imagery translates as you move through time,” he said.

“What I was looking at was the kind of hybrid figures you see in mythology, looking at how we could create hybrid figures for the digital age and looking at how our day-to-day existence over the last 20 years has become increasingly digitally mediated.”

Turgor uses drawings, printmaking and sculptures to re-image mythic or folklore tropes, motifs and characters through a visual language of assemblage and hybridity.

“The work has been about, in some sense, our ongoing relationships with technology and how we bring folklore and mythology into that realm and how the proliferation of information technology is impacting our lives,” Evans said.

“That’s had an immensely positive effect and it’s also had really negative ones. What I’m trying to show is it’s a really complicated experience and it’s something that’s growing and transforming far faster than anyone could have really anticipated. It’s new and exciting territory but it’s also new and dangerous territory.”

Evans said the body uses the five senses to filter things out.

“We have all of this stimulus that’s coming at us all the time,” he said. “The brain has to go through a selective process to narrow it down in a way we can process.”

With today’s technology, Evans said people have non-stop access to news and social media.

“It’s really powerful and it allows us to be engaged with things that aren’t immediate to us and allows us to stay connected,” he said.

“It also allows us to get really sucked into it and not put those filters in place. You can almost lose yourself in that.”

In fact, Evans said people have come to rely on constant information.

“You look at what happens when someone tries to disconnect for a weekend or when someone loses their phone it’s like they lost a limb,” he said. “Just to get to a place we’ve never been before, if we don’t have Google maps we are stuck.

“They’ve almost become these extensions of our bodies.”

Evans defines Turgor as a state of pressure or expansive force that drives growth, reproduction and other vital processes in certain organic systems.

Through the exhibition, Evans explores how the proliferation of information and analytics in the last few decades interacts with an expanded definition of the body.

An artist’s reception will be held Jan. 13 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Turgor consists of about a dozen or more combinations of drawings in graphite or charcoal with additional elements like digital prints adhered to the image or cutouts suspended in front so part of the image lifts off the page.

It’s previously been exhibited in Edmonton.

“I find people tend to be intrigued by it, especially because the figures I’m depicting have really strong body language and are really communicating intense emotion through their posture and gestures – although most of the time the heads and faces are not human and have dissolved into something else,” he said.

“That’s something people really gravitate towards is that kind of raw intensity as the body language,” he said.

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