Norman White, A Canadian Legend of Electronic Art

Splish Splash 2

I’m  looking forward to the upcoming screenings of “Them F*ck!ng Robots”, a documentary film about the career of Norman White.  Norman has influenced many artists, including myself, through the courses he taught at OCAD University (formerly OCAD and before that OCA) and now at Ryerson.   In the early 1990’s I decided to take a leap of faith. I had been working as an engineer in Ottawa and started a company designing satellite communication devices. In the evening I took dance classes. I came to the realization that I wanted to find a way to combine these two sides of my life, art and engineering. After looking around at various options I settled on coming to Toronto and enrolling at OCA . Norman was co-teaching an advanced course on servo control mechanisms at the time.  It was then that I developed an immediate admiration for the work and generosity of Norman White. He played a leading role in re-arranging my brain cells and inspiring me to use my electronics skills as an artist.  Norm always has insightful words to say about every students work and is willing to share his vast knowledge of programming, mechanics and electronics. His sense of humor is as sharp as his sense of aesthetics. The title of the documentary,  “Them F*ck!n Robots” refers to a piece he did with artist Laura Kikauka. This along with other pieces like “The Helpless Robot”  allow us to look at our own behavior through the machines he programs.

Norman Helping "The Helpless Robot"

Having done a BA in biology before he went to art school, Norm and I share a desire to combine disciplines and knowledge systems. Norm presented at one of our first Subtle Technologies festivals.  We are  very lucky to have the filmmakers  of  “Them F*ck!n Robots” join us for the screenings. Ine Poppe and Sam Nemeth are both based in Amsterdam.   A Q and A with the filmmakers and White will be moderated by emerging curator Farah Yusuf. The film is being shown at Ryerson on Saturday March 24th at 8 pm and in Hamilton at Factory Media Arts on Monday March 26th at 7 pm. Thanks to the generous support of the Mondriaan Foundation for allowing the screening of this film across Canada.

Tickets for Toronto Screening

Tickets for Hamilton Screening

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