Encoding Identities

April-May 2013
SNAP Gallery & dc3 art projects, Edmonton


Featuring artworks by twenty three graduate students from across North America and Europe, Encoding Identities explored the ways in which digital, genetic and linguistic codes shape bodies, subjectivities and interpersonal relations.

Artists, SNAP Gallery: Megan Dyck, Cate Francis, Mario Gallucci, Patricia Huijnen, Edith Krause, Lisa Matthias, Brad Necyk, Mitch Patrick, Grace Sippy, Darian Stahl.
Artists, Dc3 Art Projects: Cindy Baker, Jon Bellona, Joseph Doherty, Kiel Fletcher, Adam Forrester, Noah Krell, Erik Osberg, Kamie Robinson, Brian Rush, Emilie St. Hilaire, Tristan Sober-Blodgett, Guillermo Trejo, Tali Weinberg.

Curated with Nika Blasser, Alysha Creighton and Grace Sippy.

Kamie Robinson, Relationship, digital photograph

Encoding Identities explores the ways in which digital, genetic and linguistic codes shape bodies, subjectivities and interpersonal relations. The artists featured in this exhibition investigate the boundaries of coding processes to challenge the presumed stability and fixity of code. They exploit glitches, interference and translation inherent in coding systems to generate new and often surprising results.

Several artists in the exhibition foreground digital media in their works. These artists explore the moments where technology fails and the underlying code or structure of an image is revealed. Emilie St. Hilaire's interactive installation inquires into the way in which digital technologies both form and are embedded in the human subject. By bringing forward digital glitches in the Skype interface, she positions digital imaging not as a neutral mediator, but rather as a dynamic presence that actively constructs and alters subjects.

The way we understand digital code resonates with how we think about our minds and bodies, especially in light of medical projects like genetic mapping and neuroimaging. These technologies have shaped a view of the body as living code: knowable, malleable and therefore controllable. Several works in the exhibition challenge the notion of a programmable body. Brad Necyk's Benzos, for example, interrogates the use of pharmaceuticals as tools of bodily optimization, while Grace Sippy's Schism is a portrait of the body that escapes the medical gaze and reveals our psychological vulnerabilities.

This complex negotiation between code and subject is carried through to artworks that address linguistic code - written, spoken and embodied - as a side of identity formation. Language shapes us and our social worlds. We speak, write, and gesture ourselves into existence. The scrolling text in Noah Krell's From Me to You explicitly claims to transform the viewer: "As you read these words, I have entered you." Expanding on the transformative power of language, the fractured surfaces in Guillermo Trejo's Broken Window Theory trace a vocabulary of political resistance.

Collectively, the artworks included in Encoding Identities traverse the ruptures, overlaps and blurred edges that surround systems of codification. From its function as a source material to its mediating influence in spectatorship, code is increasingly significant in the ways in which we conceptualize and construct identities. We form code, and are in turn formed by it.

- Curatorial statement by Nika Blasser, Alysha Creighton, Pamela Grombacher and Grace Sippy

Lisa Matthias, Untitled, 2012

Mario Gallucci, Hemisphere of Societal Tolerance, latex paint, coffee straws, paper, ink, hot glue, and graphite on bookbinders board on wood

Cate Francis, Don’t Look Back (Procedure 1), screenprint on gampi with Chine-collé, 14×19

Mitch Patrick, Sol_81_Chemcham_08;58;50, 2012.jpg

Megan Dyck,  Hearsay , animation, 2012

Megan Dyck, Hearsay, animation, 2012

Darian Stahl, Immobile, 2012

Darian Stahl, Numb, 2012