Marla Hlady, Paper Bag Machine, 2010. Video (55 min). Image courtesy of the Artist.

Stop. Look. Listen

Lois Andison, Peter Flemming, Marla Hlady, Max Streicher

April 16–June 12, 2011

Curated by Patrick Macaulay


Four artists present works which ask the viewer to actively witness the exhibition by intently stopping, watching and listening.

There is an assumption that the relationship between the viewer and the art work is passive; that you enter the gallery, stand in front of the work, and look at it for an appropriate amount of time, then move to the next work and do the same. The work in this exhibition is asking more from you as a viewer. You have to stop because the works pique your curiosity. You have to look because the works dynamically change over time. You have to listen because the works are multisensorial. Like the eponymous road safety programme, Stop. Look. Listen. asks you to be actively aware. The viewer in turn becomes a witness to the ideas expressed by the artists.

– Patrick Macaulay
Head, Visual Arts


Lois Andison

time and again, 2005-07

time and again is a yearlong time-lapse video composed of still images shot from a fixed vantage point looking down into a garden and an adjacent yard. Working within a predetermined process, I photographed the same scene every half-hour for a period of one year. The viewer witnesses both small incidental changes of isolated localized movement – the sudden appearance and disappearance of a squirrel, or branches succumbing to the weight of rain – and major changes such as the destruction and reconstruction of a garage. Randomness meets order while nature and culture mix.

The key concerns in this work are time and duration. In the genre of landscape photography/painting one observes the passage of time through the four seasons as a subtle meditation on temporality – a still life in motion. In contrast to this subtlety is the mechanical movement of one image following the other, processed with only a slight video transition, to create a staccato movement like a clock ticking. The decision to have the movement more pronounced than fluid and filmic is a nod to early Eadweard Muybridge motion studies – freezing and releasing time.

— Lois Andison

Lois Andison is a sculptor/installation artist based in Toronto, Ontario. Her art practice ranges from kinetic sculpture to video and photography which she uses to document and interpret motion. Her sculptural works address the mediated body and the performative and often involve an element of humour. Lately her conceptual interests in language as a medium, and kinetic type as movement, have led to her incorporate text in her sculptures. Andison is represented by the Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto, and Galerie Art Mûr, Montreal and is currently a a tenure-track assistant professor at the University of Waterloo.

The artist would like to acknowledge the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council.

Peter Flemming

Leak to Lower Lazy Levitating Load, 2008

Water seeks the low places.
– Leonardo da Vinci

This is a levitating machine. A black, 55-gallon drum is suspended from the ceiling. It is full of water and rests on the floor. An identical barrel sits on top of a seven-foot tall tower.

The hanging barrel is gradually levitated as a small pump sips away at the water, moving it up to the tower. When the vessel is raised a distance equal to its own height, the pump stops. An electric leak valve opens, and gravity makes the water trickle back down from the tower, lowering the barrel to its initial position. The cycle repeats.

The system is solar-powered and is therefore intermittent, depending on the weather. Things move at a lethargic pace. It may take days or weeks for levitation to occur.

Small things can work to eventually act upon forces larger than they. This is how trees work: many small pumps slowly move masses of water from the ground up to the top leaves of the tree. A tree moves many times its own weight in water over its lifetime.

I make the electro-mechanical equivalents of short stories. Naturally, every good story needs some tension to keep it going. In my machinic ‘texts,’ I create tension by intermixing different systems. Organic ones blend with technological ones, old ones with new, and the handmade with the machine-made. And rather than words, sentences and paragraphs, I use bolts, batteries, metal and custom electronics.

My work is rooted in hands-on experimentation in the studio. By constructing automata that make use of subtle and/or repetitive actions, I hope to open a small space for contemplation in which the audience can become temporarily absorbed.

— Peter Flemming

Peter Flemming is an artist who makes machines. His work has been featured across North America and Europe. He currently resides in Montreal, where he teaches electronics for artists at Concordia University. He has held workshops in electronics and programming at artist-run centres around the world.

The artist would like to acknowledge the support of Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Marla Hlady

Paper Bag Machine, 2010

Two unseen performers unfurl a paper bag, slowly. The paper bag is suspended in midair by four nylon lines that are attached and threaded through the bag to two machines. One machine rests on the floor and the second machine is attached to the ceiling. Using these machines, the performers control the bag’s movements – the top four corners of the bag pulled upward by one performer, the bottom four corners pulled downward by the other. The performers are asked to make their movements as slow as possible, the resulting sounds as slow as possible. As the bag is unfurled, the nylon strings tighten.

The sounds made by the unfurling bag and the tightening of the nylon lines are amplified by a contact microphone and guitar amplifier. The video is one bag, two simultaneous views and five attempts at unfurling as music.

— Marla Hlady

Marla Hlady draws, makes sculpture, works with sites and sounds, and sometimes makes video. Hlady’s kinetic sculptures and sound pieces often consist of common objects (such as teapots, cocktail mixers, jars) that are expanded and animated to reveal unexpected sonic and poetic properties often using a system-based approach to composition. She has shown widely in solo and group shows. Hlady is represented by Jessica Bradley ART + PROJECTS.

The artist would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council.

Max Streicher

Inflatables have had an important place in my work since 1989. In most of these sculptures and installations I have used industrial fans and simple valve mechanisms to animate sewn forms with lifelike gestures. Most of these works have been made of lightweight and papery fabrics such as Tyvek or nylon spinnaker. The weightlessness of these materials allows them to respond with surprising subtlety to the action of air within and around them.

Generally inflatables are an expression of naive optimism. In an art context they signal popular culture, anti-art, and irony. I play with and against these expectations. The movement of air within my forms recalls our own sensation of breath – of breathlessness, of holding our breath, etc. My work exists in moments of kinesthesia, when the movement of air within a form causes something to stir within the physical being of the viewer. This response is to more than just the obvious action of inflation and the robust occupation of space. What I feel is even more moving is the recognition of deflation, shrinking, vulnerability, silence and dying. My choice of extremely light and papery materials enhances this sense of absence and transience, of the nearly not there at all. Thus, the awakening comes more in our awareness of the tenuousness and fleeting nature of our existence. My work with the inflatable medium is about moving the viewer from a playful and ironic headspace toward a physical connection to his or her most vital forces.

— Max Streicher

Max Streicher is a sculptor and installation artist from Alberta, now residing in Toronto. Since 1989 he has worked extensively with inflatable technology in kinetic sculptures and installation works. He has shown widely across Canada in solo exhibitions in museums such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, Edmonton Art Gallery, and Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon. He has been part of group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei; the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto; and The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto. His inflatable works are in the collections of museums such as the ESSL Museum, Vienna; the Hara Museum, Tokyo; and Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton. He was a founding member of the Nethermind collective of artists who organized four large exhibitions in alternative spaces in Toronto between 1991 and 1995. Streicher is currently represented by Eric Mircher, Paris; Gallery Maskara, Mumbai; and Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York.