The work of visual arts students lighting Toronto’s main square

During the last hour of each day in June, the massive screens that usually flash with advertisements above Yonge-Dundas Square are taken over by visual arts students who worked in sound studios and editing rooms on the same block as the downtown meeting point.

Instead, in one video, passers-by see distorted versions of real-life toddlers dressed in products by social media “influencer” parents who are paid for placements.

“It just made me think, like, baby photos, you consider them one of the most precious things you have in your life. So I was wondering what the value of the human image is to the age of social media we live in?” said Nick Garel-Jones, the creator of Internet Children (Generative AI Demo) and curator of the video component of the collective exhibition.

The piece uses an algorithm built by the fourth-year student that reads the recurring patterns in all the samples it receives – eyes, nose, mouth, and general facial features – and can extrapolate from that.” to come up with new faces that he thinks are appropriate or similar,” he explained.

by Nick Garel-Jones Internet Children (Generative AI Demo).

In a large-scale portrait on one of five screens in the square that the group of film and photography students took over, a viewer would see Andrew Donnelly, with parts of his genomic sequence written on the body of the photographer.

“It was this existential questioning of what it means to be able to see my whole physical being in a series of numbers on my computer,” said Donnelly, who sent a vial of saliva for sequencing last summer.

Donnelly, who hosted the stills portion of the presentation, said much of the work done by his peers this year was more intimate than he was used to, more about themselves than about the world.

“A lot of people chose to go in on themselves for their final project,” he said. “I think the state of the world always affects the art that’s created there, and I really think you can see that in the work that’s been done this year.”

The giant screens of downtown Toronto’s @YDSquare feature experimental work by @RyersonIMA students this month

by Andrew Donnelly Untitled 2 (from Playing with my bedside lamp). Photo by Andrew Donnelly.

It was the first time that the showcase event for experimental work by students of the Image Arts Program at Ryerson University (known as University X among some faculty and students amid formal scrutiny and informal debate over its name) was exhibited in the square.

The exhibit was an extension of the Rougher Film Festival, itself part of the School of Maximum exposure program promote student work.

“It may be a romantic idea, but I imagine a person who previously had no interest in the arts walking past the screen and seeing something that really affects them,” Donnelly said, while acknowledging the desire to see art in a gallery. .

“Art in an art space feels much more alive to me than this public space that is usually reserved for advertisements,” he said.

The oversized canvas also meant that some works, including web-based game environments and a sound-responsive viewer for music, could not be displayed, but the collection was otherwise available in multiple media, film and analog photography. and digital, 3D animation, video game designs and music videos, Garel-Jones and Donnelly said.

Graduates said their final year of undergraduate study, like many thousands in Toronto, was mostly confined to their homes, which meant there was not easy access to facilities and equipment. school, including a massive soundstage, more powerful computers and editing suites, camera gear, and more experimental gear like VR headsets.

“It was tough. I feel like, in a way, my senior year was kind of taken away from me,” Donnelly said. allowed, and maybe it’s a little narcissistic to say, but it helped me understand how much I can persevere in difficult circumstances.”

Access was especially difficult for students who relied on using equipment at school and lived farther from campus, he said.

Garel-Jones says that while early technical issues have been overcome, remote learning has had an impact.

“The biggest issue was the lack of routine and structure, and the overall Zoom fatigue really ate at us, the teachers as well,” he said. “We were all a bit depressed.”

He says that many of the classmates expressed their emotions over the year and were able to channel them into introspective work.

“But it clearly worked because my classmates and I ended up with some really cool final projects, and they’re all really unique in their own way.”

Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / National Observer of Canada