Virtually Lit
(Matchbox open to reveal Matchbook)
Woodblock, Screen and Digital Print
Matchbox 4 x 2

This body of work was created in collaboration with Noelle Wharton-Ayer, a Quebec City based print media artist. In this collaboration we created two pieces that speak to the notion of redundancy in the modern age through element of fire, specifically matches. We live in a time where access to information is ubiquitous but this ubiquity has lead to a certain fragmentation both in the ways in which we remember and understand. In the novel White Noise, a teenage boy, Heinrich discusses this disjunction.

“It’s like we’ve been flung back in time, he said. “Here we are in the Stone Age, knowing all these great things after centuries of progress but what can we do to make life easier for the Stone Ages? Can we make a refrigerator? Can we even explain how it works? What is electricity? What is light? We experience these things every day of our lives but what good does it do if we find ourselves hurled back in time and we can’t even tell people the basic principles much less actually make something that would improve conditions. Name one thing you could make? Could you make a simple wooden match that you could strike on a rock to make a flame? (DeLillo, p. 147-148)

In effect this work began to speak to a prepared anxiety as we created a survival kit for the future with two incarnations of containers that hold the potential for fire, however they ultimately contain an artifice. Rather than any practical tool for survival the containers hold pieces that could never create fire, rather recreate fire though virtual representation. The match contained exists entirely in a virtual application (specifically an Apple App.) furthermore it represents a match in the process of being extinguished. In a contemporary context items such as matches and matchboxes have become nostalgic and redundant as their virtual or manufactured avatars have re-contextualized and replaced some of their initial functions. Matches have been replaced with lighters, which have been replaced by longer safety lighters, from which the fire was replaced altogether with light in the virtual apps, which supposedly take the ‘original’ matches place in any entertainment or spectacle venue. As a result of these different realizations the containment devices have also changed from a box or book to a micro thin glass plate of an iPod and as a result the older containers become items for containing memories and nostalgia such as collections, mementos and souvenirs.

In these pieces we are interested in the experience of both the natural and manufactured environment and the accompanying physical and mental reactions stemming from anxiety and insecurity in regards to the changes of these environments. In effect, we are interested in the ways in which this dynamic of environmental anxiety contributes to an understanding of the ways in which people interact with and make sense of the world.

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