Troy David Ouellette
VirtuReal, 2021. Dura-line microduct tubing, fibre optic cable, speakers, light generator.
VirtuReal is a light/sound installation work; using modem sounds and fibre optics. The conduit, in this work, came from cut-off pieces obtained from a crew installing fibre optic cable in my neighbourhood in June of 2021.
In this project, I wanted to blend the physical or "real" material with the "virtual" sounds of a bygone era. For me, the virtual is only a potential - a potential of movement where things have not yet happened. At the same time, material things must exist to provide the "fuel" in an endless entanglement of possibility. This fibre optics installation was part of a larger project to connect us all with communications technologies. Most of our physical interactions with culture were impacted during the pandemic and deemed as non-essential. Museums, theatres, music venues closed, and artists responded by creating virtual events.
The use of the truncated fibre, in this installation, signals the return to social interaction and, at the same time, reacts to the dependency we had on digital technologies to keep many of us safe during the pandemic. The circular forms symbolize our spheres of influence as we physically distanced and attempted to interact with family and friends. Thus, the interlocking chain becomes a bit of a contradiction, signalling chains for support and the feeling of being captive, isolated, and enslaved by the same apparatus designed to keep us safe.
Using modem sounds, audible codes, the listener should hear a faint calling out through a virtual handshake (as it was once called). As we move from online environments to meeting in person, post-pandemic, we will be performing physical handshakes. My hope is that the modes of production we were used to will resume with renewed insights.
Midst (Invisible Animeals Series, 2012-2019), 2019. Single channel video loop.
Funded by the City of St. Catharines Cultural Investment Program, presented by th NAC.
“Issues of encroachment of cities into wild space raise questions of animal rights. Do animals ‘own’ the wild spaces that they depend upon for life and sustenance? Within systems of property rights through capitalism, animals have no land rights. How does this new reality of the disposability of animals fit within the Canadian psyche, one in which “nature” predominates? This project springs from my desire to repopulate southern Ontario with the animals that once would have proliferated here. To brush up against animal encounters is an experience of majesty, intimacy, and humility. I hope this project inspires a sense of our deep interconnectedness with the forces of nature. How does a return of the animal-other transform public space in the experience of the viewer? Midst questions our relationship to natural and architectural spaces, inviting our imaginations to populate those spaces. It prompts the viewer to engage in questions of embodied perception and the fluidity of lived experience. My recent artworks deal with animals and can be seen as part of a contemporary movement that concerns itself with the animal self and animal other. How do we rethink what it is to be an animal beyond being another disposable body for the interests of advanced capitalism? How does a celebration of an animal shift the values of a global, technological world?”
Monster Game, 2021. Vinyl installation, projection
“This image began as have many moments through our pandemic: my partner and young child improvise some kind of ridiculous game, and I reach for my phone or camera to document the antics. We have been at home, sometimes happily, full of joy and thankful for our safe space. At other times we are fraught, feeling trapped, bereft in loss, aggrieved, deeply saddened without our friends and family’s physical presence. Like many others, I often chase away worries about how this pandemic will impact the health and psyche of my young child. The play monster wearing a crown and chasing a gleeful child encapsulates so many of these feelings. The paper crown evokes the spikey “corona” of the corona virus. I chose to rotoscope the image to bring it closer to the colourful realm of the imagination—but also the realm of monsters whether real or imagined. Animating, shooting video, drawing, and other creative actions have been a balm for the epidemic. Through art forms we can generously engage our family, friends, and communities’ members, to confirm our realities whether our experiences are shared or distinct.”