May 11 to June 25, 2006
Reception: Thursday, May 11, 7 – 9 pm; Artist talk: 7 pm
Like his mentor Norman T. White, Peter Flemming explores the implications of the human/machine interface, inviting a reflection on the technological imperative and our expectations of its accomplishments. Adopting an aesthetic of bricolage and improvisation, he produces ingenious mechanical contraptions from salvaged industrial materials, obsolete electronic equipment and barebones technologies.
Flemming adapts industrial techniques and processes to ”non-productive” ends, essentially building “useless” machines that mimic human gestures in the performance of mundane or routine activities. His solo exhibition at the Koffler Gallery focuses on two major robotic installations, Manual (2001) and Canoe (2000-2003), complemented by a new surveillance-based work operating within and outside of the gallery context.
Manual is a large-scale machine equipped with a mechanical arm that deposits a spiral of dust on the gallery floor, extending twenty feet in diameter. The apparatus then sweeps the dust up, initiating a performance that repeats the entire process every hour. As the dust gathers in the centre, the machine eventually stalls. The urban connotations of Manual are contrasted with the rural associations issuing from Canoe. In this twenty-five foot long installation, an automated paddle gracefully travels the length of a clear plastic shell filled with water, moving back and forth in a perpetual loop. As in Manual, abstract references to labour and the absent human body ensue.
Flemming’s mechanical prototypes underscore repetitive motion as the characteristic property of the machine, a phenomenon to be contemplated. The arms, levers and wheels of the artist’s machines articulate movement in space over time. Extended duration and repetition establish a perceptual field where a slight variation in the turn of a wheel reverberates in numerous aesthetic ramifications. Amusing and mesmerizing, Flemming’s machines allude to the demise of human agency and the gestural system of work within our increasingly technological society.
Peter Flemming received an AOCA from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 1997, and an MFA in Media Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2001. His work has been featured in exhibitions, performances and screenings across North America and in Europe. Flemming has taught at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary and at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. He currently resides in Montreal, where he teaches electronics and studio arts at Concordia University in the Intermedia Cyberarts Program.
Reception and Gallery Talk: Manual will be on view in the Koffler Gallery from Thursday, May 11 through Sunday, June 26, 2006. A reception for the artist will be held Thursday, May 11 from 7 to 9 pm, with an artist talk at 7 pm.
Publication: The exhibition is accompanied by a publication with an essay by senior Canadian artist Norman T. White.
Gallery Location: The Koffler Gallery is part of the Koffler Centre of the Arts, located at the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre, 4588 Bathurst Street, three stoplights (two TTC stops) north of Sheppard Ave. The gallery is accessible by TTC via the Bathurst 7 bus north from the Bloor/Bathurst subway station, or the 160 Bathurst North bus from Wilson subway station. Buses stop at the BJCC.
Gallery Hours: The gallery is open Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 4 pm, Sunday noon to 4 pm and Monday by appointment. Closed Friday, June 2. Closed Saturday, statutory holidays and Jewish holidays. Admission is free.
Group Tours and Workshops: Gallery talks and tours are free and are offered in both French and English. Group tours and workshops are also available. For information, please call (416) 636-1880 ext. 270.
Special Youth Workshop: Introduction to Electronic Art (Sunday May 14, 28, June 4 and 11, 11:00am to 2:30pm) is an innovative workshop for teens ages 13-18, designed and led by Peter Flemming and Jessica Field in conjunction with Manual. Organized in collaboration with InterAccess. The total cost is $140, including a registration fee of $95 and an individual material kit fee of $45. For information please call 416 636 1880 /x 270.
Acknowledgements: The Koffler Gallery gratefully acknowledges the support of its Patrons and Members, BMO Harris Private Banking, the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.