Through computer-generated video, PAN/PAN (2018) probes the connections between exploration, wilderness, and technology in a contemporary context. Drawing on the visual vocabularies of landscape painting and NASA live-streams, PAN/PAN presents a series of relics from a distant future. Hovering between motion and stillness, virtual scenes are devoid of human presence, yet biomorphic apparatuses function as technological stand-ins for embodied experience. Their unexpected presence in the landscape calls into question colonial narratives of discovery embedded in early twentieth-century landscape painting. By conflating categories of artificial/natural and virtual/actual, PAN/PAN generates a playful yet uncanny vision of our technologized future.
As life moves more and more into virtual spaces, I am interested in the ways that digital technology influences our relationship to the natural world. Through a combination of sculpture and new media, I explore emerging forms of technological nature; that is, how technology mediates, augments, or simulates depictions of the natural world. I look to the materiality of the screen—as both portal and container—in an effort to probe this changing relationship. I focus on the porous boundary between virtual and actual space, looking to materialize the digital and dematerialize the physical. Drawing on the visual vocabularies of science fiction, nature documentaries, and online virtual worlds, my work speaks to the new ways that we experience nature in a contemporary context, examining the gains and losses therein.
The materiality of the digital is a core dimension of my practice, as I bring forms and materials from the physical world into virtual space and back again. Using 3D modelling software, I simulate and deconstruct objects from the natural world and embed them within virtual environments. Documented through looping videos, digital subjects are animated in unexpected ways that trouble their apparent material identities. At times, their forms are flexible and geometric, and at others, rigid and organic. In certain works, these virtual subjects are embedded in digital biospheres. In others, they are extracted from their “natural habitats” and forced to negotiate the void of digital space.
My recent work is centred on how we imagine and inhabit virtual spaces. I am interested in the ways that the global media industry—from cinema to video games—informs our online interactions, with particular attention to how real life power imbalances leak into virtual space, both in terms of design and use. At the same time, virtual spaces can operate as platforms for playful subversion and pointed resistance. Focusing on multiplayer online worlds and games, I examine virtual spaces as sites of emergence, where participant interactions exceed prescribed game dynamics and relationships. Although our visions of virtuality are deeply conditioned, I consider how online environments can function as spaces for radical imaginings of the future, both in-game and out.
Anna Eyler is a multidisciplinary artist based in Montréal, Québec. She holds a BA in Religious Studies and Art History from Carleton University (2010) and a BFA from the University of Ottawa (2015). She is currently an MFA candidate in Sculpture and Ceramics at Concordia University (2017-). Recent awards include the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (2017), the Desjardins Academic Scholarship (2018), and the Emerging Digital Artist Award (2018). Eyler has participated in residencies with Espace Projet (Montréal, 2015), Verticale (Laval, 2018), and the Bòlit: Centre d’Art Contemporani (Catalonia, 2019). Recent solo exhibitions with Nicolas Lapointe include beyond différance, and now at Ace Art Inc. (Winnipeg, 2016) and void loop () at the City Hall Art Gallery (Ottawa, 2018). Recent group exhibitions include Femmes Futuristes at Eastern Bloc (Montreal, 2019), the Currents New Media Festival (Santa Fe, 2019), and the Vector Festival (Toronto, 2019). Eyler currently holds the position of Coordinator for the Textiles and Materiality Research Cluster at Concordia University (Montréal, 2018-).