Date: April 13, 2017 – March 31, 2018
Partner: Faculty of Information
Venue: Claude T. Bissell Building – map
Project Members: Alexie Brown, Bridget Collings, Rebecca Jackson, and Alyssa Trudeau
REWIRED: ART x BISSELL 2017 was the third, graduate student-curated exhibition of its kind at the Faculty of Information. Exploring methods of reinterpretation and memory construction, REWIRED examined the relationships we have with expanding digital technology and the world around us in relation to processing, manipulating, and privileging information. REWIRED featured work by artists, raised in the ‘Digital Age,’ whose practices focus on the intersections between people, digital technology, and information, alongside the iSquare Program by Dr. Jenna Hartel and her research team from the Faculty of Information. Bringing together these unique voices and unexpected intersections, REWIRED contributed to the conversation about human-technology interactions forged by the overwhelming flow of information.
REWIRED’s primary audience was faculty, staff, and graduate and post-graduate students, who study, research and teach at the Faculty of Information. The exhibition was also of interest to visitors to the Faculty who are curious about the impact of technology on artistic practices as well as the varying connections between people, digital technology, and information.
The exhibition was located on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th-floor lobbies of the Claude T. Bissell Building at the University of Toronto. Home to the Faculty of Information, the Claude T. Bissell building was an ideal location to stage an exhibition that discussed human relationships with technology and information while highlighting research conducted by the Faculty.
This project was supported by the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, the MSL4000 exhibition class budget and many generous individual donations made by the iSchool community, friends, and family during an intensive fundraising campaign.
From inception to installation, REWIRED took over seven months to develop. Beginning in October 2016 to February 2017, we researched and sought out artists and faculty members to participate in the show, while spending ample time fundraising to support the project. The last three months of the project were spent writing and designing interpretive materials, creating floor plans and planning the opening reception. The installation took place over two long, sleepless days. The exhibition opened April 13, 2017 and closed March 31, 2018.
REWIRED featured the artwork of Connor Buck, Adrienne Crossman, Brandon Dalmer, Tabitha Chan, Jessica Zhou, Tobias Williams, and Robbie Sinclair, alongside the iSquare Research Program by Dr. Jenna Hartel and her research team. Using art and the iSquare Research Program as mediums to communicate the message of REWIRED was effective as art is a means of human expression. By featuring a mix of professional and emerging artists that expressed digital processes, memory, and relationships with privileging and processing information in their works, REWIRED’s message was more nuanced to fit within the space. The inclusion of the iSquare Research Program helped tie the exhibition more closely to the research and studies done by faculty and students at the iSchool. REWIRED also included various interpretive materials including introduction panels on the 2nd, 3rd, and 7th floors; artists labels to contextualize the artists’ practices and intention behind the pieces; and catalogue binders for each floor to further contextualize the art and exhibition for visitors within the space.
We marketed our exhibition ourselves by creating a Facebook event for the opening reception and posting images and updates the week leading up to our opening to engage our audience and incite curiosity. We also designed and printed brochures to distribute throughout the Faculty of Information. Some of our featured artists also helped us advertise the exhibition by sharing our opening event on Facebook and their personal websites. Additionally, we created a press release that was posted on the iSchool website and circulated via e-blasts. During the opening reception, artists had the opportunity to discuss their art and us, the curators, gave tours of the exhibition.
Overall, REWIRED was a success. We achieved our main outcomes of enlivening the aesthetics of the Claude T. Bissell Building through displaying art on multiple floors and creating an exhibition that related to the work and research that is conducted at the iSchool. REWIRED also included interpretive material on each floor to add continuity to the exhibition space while contextualizing each component of the exhibition. The opening reception was well attended by artists, faculty, and students to celebrate the work of the artists and the exhibition as a whole. The project was also featured in an interview for the Digital Tattoo Project regarding its relevance to Digital Tattoos’ work on educating people about the formation of digital identities and online presence.
We would like the thank all our sponsors and funders, particularly the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, friends, and family whose financial support enabled us to realize this exhibition. A special thank you to Matthew Brower, Rebecca Noone, and Hillary Walker Gugan for their support and guidance throughout the project. We would also like to thank Alejandra Paton for designing a beautiful logo and introductory panel used to create a brand for the exhibition, and Brenna Pladsen for creating our lovely brochures. Last but not least, thank you to the 2016-2017 Museum Studies exhibition class for editing labels, offering suggestions and being great moral support throughout our project.