David Rokeby


David Rokeby

West Hall Gallery, Room 111, RPI Campus

September 24, 2008 5:00 PM - October 17, 2008

Exhibition: September 24 - October 17, 2008
Opening Reception:  September 24, 5-7pm
Gallery Hours:  Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm; Evenings by Appointment 


David Rokeby has won acclaim in both artistic and technical fields for his new media artworks. A pioneer in interactive art and an acknowledged innovator in interactive technologies, Rokeby has achieved international recognition as an artist and seen the technologies which he develops for his work given unique applications by a broad range of arts practitioners and medical scientists.

The Toronto artist, who was born in Tillsonburg, Ontario in 1960 and studied at the Ontario College of Art, uses technology to reflect on human issues. Rokeby's best-known work, Very Nervous System (1986-90) premiered at the Venice Biennale in 1996, won the first Petro-Canada Award for Media Arts (1988) and is permanently installed in several museums around the world. The work uses video cameras, computers, and synthesizers to create an interactive space in which body movements are translated into music. The technology Rokeby developed for this work is widely used by composers, choreographers, musicians, and artists. It is also used in music therapy applications and is currently being tested as an activity enabler for victims of Parkinson's Disease.

Several of his works have addressed issues of digital surveillance. Watched and Measured (2000) was awarded the first BAFTA award for interactive art from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Guardian Angel (2001) received the award for best installation at the Images Festival in 2001.

Other works engage in a critical examination of the differences between human and artificial intelligence. The Giver of Names (1991-) and n-cha(n)t (2001) are artificial subjective entities, provoked by objects or spoken words in their immediate environment to formulate sentences and speak them aloud.

Rokeby has twice been honored with Austria's Prix Arts Electronica Award of Distinction (1991 and 1997). He has been an invited speaker at events around the world, and has published two papers that are required reading in the new media arts faculties of many universities. He recently received the Canadian Council for the Arts Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts. 


Video Installation:  Machine for Taking Time (Boul. Saint-Laurent) is a work commissioned by the Fondation Daniel Langlois in celebration of its 10th anniversary. Two high definition cameras were mounted on pan-tilt mounts on the east and west sides of the Foundation building in Montreal. Approximately 1,024 images per camera per day were recorded from precise points of view for a year from March 2006 to March 2007. Two computers explore the resulting database of about 750,000 images, and they stitch together leisurely continuous pans through the city, staying true to the spatial trajectory but shifting unpredictably through time.

Sometimes it stays on one day for a while. You can follow the micro-narrative of a stroll through the park. Other times it starts slipping through time, moving from day to day as it progresses from position to position. The human narrative falls away to be replaced with the shifting of climate and the seasons.

This cavalier relationship to time echoes the movement of human memory as it leaps back and forth across time. But Machine for Taking Time (Boul. Saint-Laurent) gives this fluid time travel of memory the immediacy of vision. The sensation of the pan keeps the eye in the present, drawn to consider the changes in the image as though they were plays of sun and light, to interpret them as live, unfolding experience. But just beneath this shifting surface there is a sensation of something very still, something like an ideal Montreal hanging in a hybrid space between particulars and abstraction Floating in this river of externalized remembering, in this complex area between the singular and the idealized, reminding us of the strangeness and beauty of memory, which, every day, tends to fall into familiar invisibility.


You Tube Video:


About the series OUT OF TIME

In this era of convergence between computers, networks and new media software, we bear witness across diverse fields to a newly intensified obsession with how time passes. In this context, we may speak of being "out of time", in at least three senses:  that of an ever-present countdown toward environmental disaster; the everyday sense of being behind, of lacking the capacity to concentrate and contemplate; and, to the contrary, of escaping the lockstep regimentation of clock time to find renewal or even redemptive hope in experiences of an expanded present, of an enlivened sense of the possible. The iEAR series for Fall 2008 presents a tour d'horizon of thinking and creating about being out of time, in all these senses, and more.

Add to calendar