Synthetic Practice

Vancouver Island based artist Gina Luke opens up her studio space and provides details on how she is reinterpreting her recent and archived media works within the changing outlook of Covid-19. While considering her catalogued pieces through a new frame of view, she also considers how she will be adapting her future work to the circumstances of the Covid-19 climate, particularly related to the shift from living outside to living online.

While repackaging my work for a series of virtual exhibitions this summer at Xchanges studios, I pondered how an art practice that functions by physically engaging with the environment around me, both in process and in final presentation could also be re-thought in the changing terrain of Covid-19.

I’ve considered how my way of making over these past few months has become altered because of the social boundaries attached to various Covid-19 regulations. Much of my practice includes venturing outdoors to both distant, natural, and densely packed urban areas where I record images for the early stage of my process. I often use large gatherings of people or distant locations as source material.

Not only had I begun to use virtual spaces to present work for exhibitions but I had also begun to reconsider characteristics in past pieces, connecting them to the reverberating social changes created by the Covid-19 climate. Particularly pieces that deal with the shift between abandoning analogue experience for virtual space. I reconsidered how these archived works functioned within the shifts created by Covid-19, particularly in regards to the adoption of an online versus an in-person lifestyle.

While installing a series of works for online streams I rationalized how I might align these pieces with new realities and personal thoughts on the pandemic. It seems that, in numerous ways we have already been living in a somewhat synthetic reality, where cellular screens are suspended in our line of sight, redirecting our paths and pre-determining our decisions. Our daily routine has been shifting toward one that is more of a digital-natural and organic-synthetic way of being.

The chatter and hype in regards to this increasing digitization of everyday life had become even more popularized during the Covid-19 crisis. We have been encouraged by our social structures to reach out to one another through digital means only and embrace the virtual rather than the analogue. The digital has become our collective way to move forward and find our sense of togetherness during the pandemic.

Influenced by this idea of living in the virtual, I analyzed pieces from my practice that spoke to the boundaries between the virtual and analogue world. These boundaries that had become permeated in everyday life as the adoption of an online only lifestyle was not only more accepted, but praised.

The piece that stood out most prominently, that I installed at Xchanges, for a series of online exhibitions was a digital version of a skyline titled Cloud Gazer. This work suspends a floating indoor “sky-scape” of seemingly organic textures that were created through digital effects. The piece offers an alluring and naturalistic escape to our outside world whilst also speaking to these convergences and boundaries that had been made more muddied during the pandemic between virtual and analogue, natural and digital.

Reinstalling these works in my studio allowed me to use them to critically interpret our current digital surroundings with new perspectives, and use that context to begin informing a series of future pieces that might closely address the convergence between the natural digital, analogue organic, and the way we connect with varying environments in the digital age.

Cloud Gazer, Gina Luke

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