Performance: Lines of Sight: Toronto Observation

Lines of Sight: The Toronto Observation
Curated by Willy LeMaitre
Featuring Annie Onyi Cheung, Risa Kusumoto, Kika Thorne and Claudia Wittman

Friday June 3, 7pm – 10pm (reception from 7pm; performances from 7:30pm – 8:30pm)
Beaver Hall (29 McCaul Street)

The performance is “pay-what-you-can”, and doesn’t require advance tickets.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the city because we’re already in it. We see the city like we see the artist’s body; by looking at what it does. A body’s engagement with its interior is through its negotiations in its exterior.

The unusual staging of The Toronto Observation situates three live artists working in disparate locations around the city, each of them visible to the audience gathered on the rooftop observatory of a downtown apartment building. The presentation conflates scientific method with artistic presentation.

At the limits of human vision are aspects of the imagination—intuitive, creative thought that shapes our understanding of what we see. On one level, the event is an opportunity to gaze out over the city and compare what goes on with what we may think goes on. The artist’s work, nestled in this expanded field, will be magnified and framed by video equipment. Contrasting the qualities of observation, the situation will pit human with machine vision.

Certain biases prevent our recognition of what is truly visible. At all times we should be aware of our own biases, which frame what we are shown—and which distort what is. We cannot separate our sight faculties from nature. However, at the limits of knowledge, perceptual sensing and cognitive representations, there is a split between what happens and what we think happens.

At any level of this world, whether it is the behavior of electrons at the sub-atomic scale or social and aesthetic expressions at the fringes of human scale, the limits of the known are often decried as strange and weird. The limits are set by what is familiar and expected but also by the qualities of imaging technologies that continually redefine the known.

Confirmation bias

An interpretive mode defines one bias of the observer. Beyond what we can reliably understand to see, we shift into a speculative mode of imagining what we expect to see. Detecting a bias towards a particular outcome of an experiment is a primary concern in evaluating its scientific credibility.

Processing bias

Through the use of computerized instruments, “observations” undergo extensive processing before they are presented to the human senses, posing the question as to where in the data processing chain “observing” ends and “drawing conclusions” begins. This has increasingly become an issue in the use of digitally enhanced images to illustrate experimental data in papers published in scientific journals. Images may be enhanced to bring out features that the researcher wants to emphasize, but this also has the effect of supporting his or her conclusions. This is a form of bias that is difficult to quantify.

Annie Onyi Cheung is an emerging performance, video and installation artist whose work has been concerned with relational politics, with increasing focus on site and materiality. Her work has shown most recently at Labspace Studio (2011), The Artist Project Toronto (2011), Box Salon (2011), Scotiabank Nuit Blanche (2010), and Doris McCarthy Gallery (2010). In 2007 she co-founded Collective, a collaborative performance group and in 2009 she became a member of the performance curatorial collective 7a*11d. Born in Hong Kong, she lives and works in Toronto.

Risa Kusumoto is a multi-disciplinary who grew up in Japan, Brazil, USA, Germany and Canada, moving often due to her father’s line of work in the instant noodle industry. Inspired from her early experiences of nomadic living, Risa is interested in creating small displacements of perspective in moments encountered during daily life. Her main art practice is in performance art, often incorporating a variety of other media and formats, including sound, sculpture/installation, video and photography. Risa has performed at White Moon Dance Nights (2009), Rhubarb Festival (2008), University of Arts Berlin Rundgang (2008), and 7a*11d’s International Festival of Performance Art (2008). Most recently, she performed at the Tsunami-Relief Fundraiser, Ashita (2011), in which she personally gifted a hand-made multiple to each fundraiser attendee. Born in Fukuoka, Japan, she is currently based in Toronto.

Kika Thorne received her MFA from the University of Victoria, BC and has exhibited extensively, including projects at Murray Guy, New York; the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Portikus, Frankfurt; the Power Plant and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Claudia Wittmann performs since 2003, mostly in solo. Her work explores intimacy and the transformative power of energies that have to do with (gender) identity. Her process is based on her butoh training with SU-EN (Sweden) and on her regular work with performance artist Paul Couillard who has guided her through the curricula of Jerzy Grotowski. Claudia has performed in Toronto in the framework of Shared Habitat02 (2003), Aimée’s Sundays (2007), Subtle Technologies Festival (2007), Dance Matters (2007), RED (2007), genderTROUBLING (2008), Extermination Music Night (2009) and FADO Escapist Actions (2009). She has also self-produced work, led performance-workshops in Toronto, Calgary and in the United States, collaborated with improvising musicians and curated performance events. Claudia holds a PhD in molecular genetics and a Master’s degree in the history and philosophy of science.

This event is being held in partnership with Beaver Hall Gallery.