fragmented flora   

xi xi 息息, Xuan Ye, 2019


digital embodiments of being in time and space

Watching the leaves fall in the year with no touch, other than the coolness of the keys on keyboards.

Stuck inside with pixelated friends and existential dread.

Outside the impossible,
becomes improbable,
becomes  temporary,
becomes   m  u  n  d  a  n  e.

Fragmented Flora looks at our relationship to the digital sphere and the tangible qualities that are traditionally valued in western art and art institutions. The flexibility inherent in the digital realm allows one to penetrate the virtual, where we do not need to be beholden to the constraints and order of time. By showing works that engage with temporality in distinct ways, one can draw connections between the exhibited artworks to reconsider our relationship to time and to the ways we perceive how matter exists in space. Elizabeth Belliveau’s animation Still life with fallen fruit breaks down time, frame by frame, and rebuilds it; Eve Tagny’s video We Weight on the Land (Winter) takes footage and assembles it to create a mediative pace; Xuan Ye’s sound piece xi xi 息息 and interactive poem Fin (part of their G=A=R=D=E=N series) construct environmental qualities of being lost in time; the decay of Hayley O’Byrne’s live stream floral installation Flowers in Time and Space expresses the linearity of time as it unfolds.

Impatiently waiting for the summer, when winters sub-zero temperatures become distant memories.

Sun on skin and fresh stone fruit make the dormancy of winter worthwhile.

The fragile nature of digital space resists the institutionalized western art tradition of conservation and preservation. Western notions of permanence are seen when artists immortalize live subjects in oil paintings and the basements of museums which act as mausoleums for works that are not on display and may never be exhibited. The history of western artists depicting flower arrangements in oil paintings juxtaposes the short lifespan of flowers, whose beauty is supposed to be fleeting. Superficially, digital depictions of organic matter seem to follow in the western art historical tradition of using art to immortalize organic matter. The digital world mirrors the fragility of life, as digital files, platforms, software, and hardware are extremely vulnerable to corruption and deterioration. The looseness and fluidity of organic matter creates tension with the "rules" (geometry, symmetry, algorithms, etc.,) of the digital realm.

Clocks remain fixed in the corner of our devices to serve as a reminder of what we hold so dearly,

basing our lives on the constraints and order of time.

The subject matter of all the artworks shown engages with how humans act upon nature—with or against. Still life with fallen fruit portrays the animacy of all things by reconceptualizing traditional still life, as well as composing organic and inorganic matter in ways that allow the viewer to see its vibrancy. We Weight on the Land (Winter) demonstrates the tension between bringing gardens into domestic spaces and the untameable essence of nature. Fin engages with the concept of habitat, issues with urban planning, and the integration of digital technology in domestic spaces, by using stock photos paired with the interactivity of the CAPTCHA poem. Flowers in Time and Space visualizes the human desire to manipulate our environment through a live stream that captures decay–problematizing what it means to watch something die.

In the spring buds begin to burst from hibernation.

The colours change from cool blues, greys, and browns to green. Green in the broadest sense of the word... from the lightest shades transitioning from white bulbs to vibrant pigments.

Reminding us that nothing is dormant forever. 

Fragmented Flora: Digital Embodiments of Being in Time and Space

Elisabeth Belliveau   |   Eve Tagny   |    Hayley O’Byrne   |   Xuan Ye   |   About