Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art is pleased to present:
Winter Institute 2024: Will It Work, How Does it Work, Is it Working
led by faculty Judy Radul
February 20 – 25, 2024
The core theme of the inaugural Winter session–titled Will it Work, How Does it Work, Is it Working–is experimentation. Its lead faculty is Judy Radul, the artist behind the solo exhibition Live Lecture Streaming Podium: I am Not a Cat at Plug In ICA February to April 2024. Radul’s show and the Winter Institute center on similar themes, questioning the digital materiality of performance, cultural techniques, theories exploring socio political intersections, and other related issues of contemporary practices of media and mediation.
The Summer Institute, with a longer period of research and sharing, allows for creative production. However, acknowledging the shorter time frame, the base activity for the Winter Institute will be conversation within the participant cohort. Each day will begin with viewing a lecture by one of our guest faculty members within the exhibition apparatus. These lectures which are in conjunction with Plug In ICA’s public programming, will be open to the public.
Following their talk, the speaker will become the daily guest faculty. Transforming from their prepared presentation—made somewhat performative by the “Live Lecture Streaming Podium”— they will join a less “staged”, more improvised session with the Winter Institute cohort. Within the cohort, a more intimate sharing of the speaker’s practice and discussion amongst the participants will shift into workshops that stretch the understanding of material presented.
This Winter Institute is an improvised assemblage based on negotiating the critical media theory oriented approach of the speakers (and the Live Lecture Streaming Podium itself) and the interests of participants, particularly as they intersect with ideas of performance, media technology, and cultural techniques. Cultural techniques are described by Bernhard Siegert as: “encompass[ing] everything from gadgets, artifacts, and infrastructures all the way to skills, procedures, technologies. Not only machines but legal procedures, sacred rituals, and so on.”
Winter Institute workshop activities will include conversation, reading, video viewing, and exploring the digital processes associated with the lecture performances presented.
Participants can expect an open-minded space where ideas and conversation are explored critically. A hopeful intention with the Winter Institute is that its truncated model will remove the pressure to produce a final product, allowing for focused contemplation and research within an empathic yet holistic space that can translate to artistic endeavors community-wide.
Each day, Guest Faculty members will present a unique talk through Radul’s lecture apparatus.
Cécile Malaspina, The 21st Century Material Intellect: Reflections on Social Dissonance | February 20, 2024, 10:30 AM
‘You can only be free in an authoritarian country,’ a Turkish philosopher recently said, in private. ‘Freedom–to the extent that it exists in an authoritarian state–stems from its inability to control all aspects of society and is therefore real.’ This is the freedom of flying under the radar of censorship and intimidation, or of opposing it outright, knowingly, and braving the consequences. Things are not so clear in a liberal democracy, where the Instagram-filtered freedom of the individual is an illusion hard to renounce. In this talk we will think about the paradoxes of the liberal individual in terms of what the philosopher and noise artist Mattin calls ‘social dissonance’ and we will do so through the lens of the long lost philosophical notion of the ‘material intellect’.
Tom Kohut, ‘Todestrieb’ and Recursivity: Collapsing the Organic and the Inorganic | February 21, 2024, 10:30 AM
In 1920, Sigmund Freud published Beyond the Pleasure Principle, notable in particular for his postulation of two connected psychoanalytic concepts: the repetition compulsion and the Todestrieb (strangely translated by James Strachey into English as “death instinct,’ when “drive” would have been more appropriate). As a drive, the “death drive” necessarily finds its satisfaction in its repetition, which connects it with the repetition compulsion that Freud located in shellshocked World War I veterans and small children. What Todestrieb names is a process by which the organic and the inorganic undergo a perpetual de-differentiation, explicitly explored in his related essay “The ‘Uncanny,’ in which repetition compulsion and its psychically disquieting effect are connected to situations in which the living (organic) and the mechanical (inorganic) become indistinguishable. In this paper, I will argue that, at a different level, a similar de-differentiation via repetition occurs technologically through a study of cybernetics and its own blurring of the distinction between the natural and the technical. Philosopher of technology, Yuk Hui, specifically notes the importance of recursivity in cybernetics and contemporary algorithmic technologies. What I will be suggesting is that there is at the very least a productive homology between these recursive algorithms and the psychoanalytic concept of Todestrieb in order to expand the field of consideration from the usual nature-technical/cultural to the larger issue of “life-death,” the eroding the organic and the inorganic. As Donna Haraway writes in “The Cyborg Manifesto,” “Our machines are disturbingly lively, while we ourselves are frighteningly inert.”
Dave Biddle, Facing the Dis-integration of the Human Face | February 22, 2024, 10:30 AM
With reference to thinkers like Jose Ortega y Gasset, Michael Polanyi, Octavia Butler, Bernard Stiegler, and Alicia Juarrero, this lecture will examine the ontological status of faces in general, and of the human face in particular. Within the context of a technosphere which incessantly generates and circulates images of the human face, this lecture will pursue the following questions:
- Are we at risk of losing our ability to attend to faces as coherent integrations which bring into focus the inward experience of others?
- Have discreet facial features become more visible in contemporary life as a result of our degrading ability to recognize the tacit meaning of faces?
- What is the connection between recognizing faces and recognizing conspiracies?
- In what ways might the secondary functioning of eyelids shape our epistemology?
- Do plants see (faces)?
Dr. Harinder Aujla, Computational approaches to understanding language | February 23, 2024, 10:30 AM
Discourse analysis involves understanding how language use reflects and shapes human experience. The advent of computational techniques, including vector-space models and neural network-based large language models (LLMs), alongside the explosion of information available on the internet, have provided new opportunities to examine language on a large scale. I present approaches to extract both meaning and sentiment from online text sources and provide some examples of how this information can be used to help us understand communication.
All public events will take place at Plug In ICA. No RSVP required.
Judy Radul’s video installations often feature technical systems, including an original computer-controlled motion choreography and playback system for live and pre-recorded video. Recent exhibitions include: Dazibao, Montreal, 2023; Gwangju Biennale, 2021; Albertinum Museum, Dresden, 2021; Kunstinstitute Melly, Rotterdam, 2017. Her large-scale media installation World Rehearsal Court (2009) has been shown in Vancouver, Vienna, Seoul, Oslo and Moscow. She has published two books with Sternberg Press Berlin: A Thousand Eyes: Media Technology, Law and Aesthetics, 2011 co-edited with Marit Paasche, and This Is Television, 2018. Radul received a B.A in Fine and Performing Arts, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, 1991 and Master of Visual and Media Arts, Bard College, New York, 2000. She is Professor of Visual Art at SFU School for Contemporary Arts. She lives in Berlin and Vancouver (unceded Tsleil-Waututh, Skwxwú7mesh and Musqueam lands) and is represented by Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver. Learn more about Judy Radul at her website here
Dr. Harinder Aujla is a professor in the department of Psychology at the University of Winnipeg. He uses computational models of semantics to understand how different groups of people come to have different understandings of the same words.
Dave Biddle (being me) is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar (being a PhD candidate at SFU’s School for Contemporary Arts in Vancouver) who lives in the traditional unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. His (being my) current research project is emboldened by two (being 2) quotes from Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star (1977):
1) “I do not know why, but I do know that the universe never began.”
2) “So long as I have questions to which there are no answers, I shall go on writing.”
The first quote informs the content of my (being Dave’s) research project while the second contends with its form. Dave Biddle (still being me) is interested in how the many different forms of life on earth (being metaphorically different) are all oriented toward the production of new expressions of meaning (being what Erwin Schrödinger calls negentropic), and in this process some of those negentropic expressions of meaning emerge as something called an Artist Bio (being a reflexive expression). Working with text, sound, moving image, and performance, Dave’s scholarship (being indistinguishable from his art practice) synthesizes research in theoretical biology, philosophy of mind, and biosemiotics to produce pedagogical artefacts that evoke a new metaphysics of life (being the difference between lucid dreaming and losing sleep). At the time of writing this particular Artist Bio, Dave Biddle is (being was) sitting where he usually sits when studying the silverfish in his books (being being).
Tom Kohut is a writer and theorist presently living in Winnipeg. Among his other work, he is the co-editor of Marshall McLuhan and Vilém Flusser’s Communication and Aesthetic Theories Revisited, and is currently working on psychoanalysis and contemporary Canadian media art.
Cécile Malaspina is Visiting Fellow at King’s College London and the University of the West of England. She runs programmes for the Collège International de Philosophie and the New Centre for Research & Practice. An Epistemology of Noise (2018). Trans. Simondon, On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects (2017).
Olanrewaju Victor Abiola (b. 2000) is a multidisciplinary visual artist hailing from Ibadan, Nigeria. His practice escalates across various mediums, from pencil drawings to digitally projected installations. Abiola’s experimental approach enables the dissection of domestic dialogues into simpler representations using illustrated metaphors, while reorienting the meaning of those familiar occurrences. Abiola’s practice has been greatly influenced by his constant collision between the metropolitan and rural districts of Ibadan, one of the largest cities in west Africa. He completed his post secondary education at the School of Art, University of Manitoba, receiving a BFA. The artist is a recipient of multiple provincial awards in Manitoba and Ontario with solo and group exhibitions.
Cullen Bingeman is an artist and educator from Winnipeg. He graduated from NSCAD University in 2019 with an MFA in Drawing and Painting. Cullen’s most recent work examines how meaning emerges from improvisational drawing grounded in movement and gesture. The work touches upon the themes of tacit memory, exploring notions of landscape ranging in scope from small drawings to large scale works.
Madeline Bogoch (she/her) is a writer and ﬁlm programmer based in Treaty1 territory/Winnipeg whose work is focused primarily on experimental moving-image practices, online subcultures, and feminist art histories. Her writing has been published in Public Parking, C Magazine, Peripheral Review, Galleries West, and others. Madeline is the Director of Media Collections and Distribution at Video Pool Media Arts Centre, Co-Director of the Winnipeg Underground Film Festival (WUFF) and has additionally curated screenings with Vtape, VUCAVU, and Video Pool Media Arts Centre.
Kristiane Church is an artist based in Winnipeg, working in a variety of mediums: filmmaking, photography, installation, garment making, and performance. Her practice centers around image worldmaking under the umbrella term cinema, and is particularly interested in the camera and its relation to body, voice, perception, as well as the possibilities of time-based media. Although the work often takes the form of analogue still or moving images, there is a recurring uneasiness of the crystallized image, and a lot of attention leading up to its creation.
Madelyn Gowler is a queer, film-based artist focused on materiality and experimental processes of image making. They are currently residing in Treaty 1 territory and received their BFA from the University of Manitoba. Gowler explores themes of gender, queerness, film as subject, and the relationship between nature and constructed spaces. Their films have been screened locally and internationally at ‘Engauge Experimental Film Festival’ in Seattle WA (2023), and ‘Experiments in Cinema v18.4’ in Albuquerque, NM (2023).
Annie Kierans is a visual artist originally from Kjipuktuk/ Halifax, Canada. She holds a BA in Art History from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland. She has contributed to community-based projects from the Subarctic to the Atlantic with organizations including the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, Jimmy’s Place Artist’s Collective, Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, and the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative. Between pixels and paint, she aims to stretch out time through a disruption in laws of physics and perspective. Currently, she is investigating the tension and symbiosis between algorithmic intelligence, embodied experience, and shifting weather patterns.
Mathew Lacosse (1990) is an artist living in Oslo, Norway, raised on Treaty One Territory, in Gimli and Winnipeg, Canada. He works with sculpture, text, images, and performance, offering minor alterations and embellishments of his surroundings. Central to this work is a critique of the conditions and expectations governing labour, respectability, and property. Lacosse has a BFA from the University of Manitoba and MFA from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. Selected exhibitions include Heerz Tooya (BG); Guttormsgaards Arkiv (NO); Kunstnernes Hus (NO); and Platform Centre for Photographic and Digital Arts (CA). He has been artist in residence at ARV.International (BG), PRAKSIS, Oslo (NO) and held mentorships with Shep Steiner and Jenifer Papararo.
Rebecca La Marre is a queer, neurodiverse artist based in Saskatoon / Treaty 6, with a writing, making, and performance practice. She uses clay, text, and the human voice to give form to questions about what it means to be a person in the world. Her activity is driven by what she reads and a need to test how ideological structures, trauma, language, and ritual can shape bodies. The first person to teach her about clay was her grandmother Ellen La Marre, who displayed her work in domestic settings and craft markets. She holds an MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London and has taken lessons from ceramics artists including Marie Coté and Ken Wilkinson, and mentored with Rob Froese. In 2023 she attended a 3-month residency at Medalta International Centre for Ceramics. Her work is exhibited and published internationally. Venues include the Serpentine Gallery, MOMA PS1, The Western Front, and the Darling Foundry. Her writing has been published in journals like the Happy Hypocrite and Organism for Poetic Research. She is the former editor and publications coordinator for Remai Modern, and an emeritus editor for E.R.O.S. Journal in London, UK.
With a Masters Degree in the field of Comparative Literature and international experience as a researcher and speaker, Alicia Lawrence shares her knowledge of digitally mediated arts communication strategies, approaching the dialogue through a gender and culture sensitive lens. She is a practicing artist, with illustrations published in Discorder Magazine, and a recent Canada Council for the Arts funded digital exhibit through Emily Carr University of Art and Design Showcase, titled “Mapping Switchboard”: https://www.ecuad.ca/showcase/mapping-switchboard.
Sylvia Matas is an artist living on Treaty One Territory in Winnipeg. She received her MFA from the Chelsea College of Art in London, England. Her practice combines images and language resulting in videos, books, texts, and drawings. Recent videos were made with found photographs from the internet from sources like surveillance cameras, satellite photos, and online archives. She is interested in questioning habitual ways of seeing and the ways in which technology can alter how we perceive reality. Her work has been exhibited at Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Gallery 44, YYZ Artists’ Outlet, Mercer Union (Toronto), The Maclaren Art Centre (Barrie, ON), The Winnipeg Art Gallery, Plug In ICA, School of Art Gallery (Winnipeg), Truck Contemporary Art (Calgary), and the Art Gallery of Regina.
I’m an artist, a writer, and an educator born in Cape Breton, NS, and while the experience of growing up in a rural place alongside the ocean has been something that I’ve often considered alongside and as part of my work, I’ve yet to reconcile with what it means to leave, a place, anyplace.
I’ve studied at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick and after completing a BA I moved to Vancouver, BC where I cleaned houses and carved waterfalls and piranha tanks while completing a BFA at Emily Carr University, and a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria. I taught photography at the University of Victoria in 2017 and 2018, and I’ve since been teaching fulltime in the School of Art at the University of Manitoba where my focus is: drawing, darkroom photography, digital editing platforms and more expansive introductory courses focusing on the development of plastic arts for first year students.
I work between disciplines that include photography, drawing, installation, sculpture, and writing. Often, I mix these disciplines into installations that encourage viewers to engage directly, often physically, with the artwork in a way that focuses on the architecture and place and explores how the body surrounds and composes the work.
Currently, my sculpture is part of the city of Morden’s public art program placed alongside Lake Minnewasta in Manitoba, and as recently as 2022 I worked with Leah McInnis to create a show Club Assembly at ARTsPlace in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.
We are on Treaty 1 Territory. Plug In ICA is located on the territories of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and the National homeland of the Red River Métis.
Our water is sourced from Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.
Plug In ICA extends our heartfelt gratitude to our generous donors, valued members, and dedicated volunteers. We acknowledge the sustaining support of our Director’s Circle. You all make a difference.
We would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Johnston Group for sponsoring this program.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council, the Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council. We could not operate without their continued financial investment and lobbying efforts.
Plug In ICA relies on community support to remain free and accessible to all, and enable us to continue to present excellent programs. Please consider becoming a member of Plug In ICA and a donor at https://plugin.org/support or by contacting Caitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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