main Gallery


Annie Briard , Donna Szoke / Ricarda McDonald

Curated By: Jim Riley

September 6 - October 19, 2013
Opening Reception: Friday, September 13

wood-e1377318154376Annie Briard creates a handmake stop-motion world, which can be explored by the viewer via cell phones, in “choose your own adventure” style. Viewers can connect with the story through text and movement, prompting different fable-like narrative moments and actions.

Donna Szoke & Ricarda McDonald capture the attention of the viewer as they walk past monitor screens. By the use of sensors, computers and video, we are prompted to question their relationship with the urban landscape.

Annie Briard and Donna Szoke/Ricarda McDonald both use the technology of Kinect sensors to create their artwork. The sensor picks up the movement of the viewers and draws them into the artwork. Both use multiple video files that are accessed by the computer to invite the viewer to become part of the interconnection between technology and human beings.

2-and-all-watched-by-machines-of-loving-grace-by-Donna-Szoke_Ricarda-McDonald--e1377276769153Briard uses the sensor and a computer so that the installation is luminescent-sensitive. The computer is programmed to determine the viewer’s movement regardless of daytime or nighttime scenarios. Szoke/McDonald’s use of the Kinect sensor is so sensitive that it can select just one viewer in a crowd, and follow the movement of that viewer alone.

Conceptually, Briard sees one of the paradigms of interactive work is “button-pushing” taking on the role of “master and obeyer”. She sees such art as allowing the viewer to have subversive control, giving a feminist perspective to technology. In The Woōds, the viewer and the stop-motion animated puppet can see each other. The sensor permits the video puppet, “Celia”, to follow the viewer, while the use of a cell phone permits the viewer to communicate with the video puppet. “This structure provides a critique on domination and as such the viewer eventually realizes that their perceived control is not as authoritative as it may have first appeared.”

Richard Brautigan 1967 poem “and all watched over by machines of loving grace” is the source of the title for the Szoke/McDonald interactive video. The poem proposes a utopian relationship between human beings, nature and technology. The human component of “and all watched over by machines of loving grace” (AWO) is firmly present as the eyes follow the viewer. McDonald’s right eye was used for (AWO) and Szoke’s eye was used in Blink. In (AWO), rather than a right and left eye, it was decided to use two right eyes. They wanted it first to appear human, but implying machine vision. Szoke/McDonald seeks to question how much we value what is human in the face of widespread surveillance — which exists largely in the interests of property crime and security. (AWO) predates sensor-based gaming technology, and when it was first presented it unnerved many viewers.

Briard, Szoke and McDonald have diverse educational backgrounds ranging from MFAs, theatre/creative writing, dance and computer science. They rely on support from others with specialized technical skills. Briard worked together with Limbic Media (Victoria) and Szoke/McDonald have collaborated with renowned programmer Jim Ruxton (Subtle Technologies-Toronto). (AWO) was initiated when Szoke/McDonald met while taking a Max/MSP+Jitter workshop in Vancouver in 2004.

The complexity of technology demands that media artists reach out to others while creating their installations. The creative application of technology remains solidly within the artists themselves.

Jim Riley



Annie Briard is a Canadian artist holding a BFA(Concordia University) and a MAA (Emily Carr University of Art and Design). Her videos, animations, drawings and installations have been exhibited across Canada and in the US, Europe, Australia and China. Her work is represented by Joyce Yahouda Gallery.

Donna Szoke (MFA Simon Fraser University) & Ricarda McDonald (BFA: Emily Carr University of Art and Design, BA University of Waterloo computer science) have collaborated on media installations since 2004. Based in St. Catharines, Donna Szoke works with video, installation, animation and writing. Vancouver-based Ricarda McDonald’s practice comprises of computer mediated installations, video, sound and light.



Jim Riley (BA Brock University) is a Burlington, ON based video artist and independent curator. His art practice is a blend of documentary evidence, personal ideology, social commentary and artistic investigations. His recent exhibitions involve both public art and gallery video installations.