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14 Mar 2012

Mark Soo, Neither Camera nor Companion at Blanket Contemporary Art

Mark Soo
Video still
Digital video (5min)

Mark Soo, Neither Camera nor Companion
Blanket Contemporary Art Inc


Opening reception:
Friday March 16, 2012 6-9pm Gallery hours:
Wed - Sat noon - 6pm

Natlaia Tkachev

Blanket Contemporary Art
560 Seymour St
Vancouver, BC V6B 3J5

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Blanket is pleased to present 'Neither Camera nor Companion', an exhibition by Mark Soo with a selection of new works that include photo, video and object-based works. This is Soo's first solo exhibition with the gallery, which opens March 16 and runs through April 21.

Soo's work often engages specific moments of culture and history, and their interdependence on notions of perception, technology, and modes of representation. Concerned with ongoing changes in photography and the circulation of images, Soo explores new themes in the series 'Madame Guillotine'. These works depict historical reproductions from the French Revolution, such as coloured etchings and lithographs, which have been re-photographed from library books with a mobile phone then enlarged in a darkroom. During printing, Soo further creates a photogram on the surface, thereby juxtaposing photographic histories that date from its earliest moments to that of its contemporary use. Co-existing as a single exposure, each work is a compression of multiple modes of fidelity, material, and metaphor that oscillate between the etching and the printed page, the indexical and the virtual, and a collective understanding of public images to the limits of a single photo. Reflecting this transition between regimes of image production are elements of the profound changes that transformed the monarchy of the Ancient Régime to the uncertain modernities of a new republic.

An accompanying video mediates upon the history of the guillotine, and creates a distorted exploration of image and sound, language and colour. Depicting three superimposed videos of a figure chopping garden vegetables, each video corresponds respectively to the red, green, and blue hues of additive colour mixing. On screen, colours are split and unstable, revealing a subject and image in the process of continual re-assembly and transition. An unsynced voiceover, culled from found text and digitally warped, muses anecdotally about the 'final cut' and the relationship between the human body and its mind.

Also on view are a series of clock-based sculptures, which juxtapose two notions of temporality. In these works, institutional time-pieces have been altered so that the face of the clock physically rotates backwards at the same pace as the second hand, effectively suspending the perception of forward movement. Wrapped around the casing of the clocks are images featuring the aggressive graphics of energy drinks commonly found in convenience stores. Marketed as an energy stimulant, these drinks are consumed, in some senses, to sustain, extend or intensify the present tense.

Since graduating from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2001, Soo has exhibited at venues including the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery, Vancouver; the Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver; Or Gallery, Vancouver; Galeria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo; Western Bridge, Seattle; Galerie Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; Nasher Museum at Duke University, Durham; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Antwerp; Johann König, Berlin; and Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris. In 2011, Soo completed the Kunstlerhause Bethanien, an artist residency in Berlin which acts in partnership with The Canada Council for the Arts. Soo was the recipient of the Shadbolt Foundation VIVA Awards in 2009.