The Charles H. Scott Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Toronto artist Michelle Gay. Gay investigates relationships of language, the body and memory and the way in which they are mediated through machine technologies via a multi-disciplinary practice that includes computer projections, animations and drawing.
Poemitron is a software program Gay developed in collaboration with her brother, particle physicist Colin Gay. The program randomly selects a word in a text and replaces it with a synonym from the program’s database. This process takes place in real time. Gay’s work spampoet is a computer projection in which the artist collected spam, texts from junk email, and processed them using the Poemitron software. This creates a text that is continuously altering and results in surprising combinations of words, often creating unexpected poetic phrases.
stretchpoem is a projection that also uses custom programming. Here Gay takes promises made by Barack Obama and John McCain during the last US presidential race as her subject. This work includes a pressure pad that allows the viewer to manipulate the text. By applying pressure with the hand the projected text enlarges and appears to move towards the viewer, immersing them in the rhetoric of political slogans. When the pressure is released the words retreat into the projection.
Other works in the exhibition also utilize devices that the viewer can access to activate and engage with the work. Her most recent work Retrieval Pictures, uses a touch tablet that when stroked reveals images of newspaper articles of past events. Articles concerning war, disaster and politics are revealed then fade when the viewer stops touching the device. The work is a poignant statement about the workings of memory and the act of remembering and forgetting. Gay uses technology in a complex and critical manner to engage with language, poetics and politics.
Gay earned her MFA at NSCAD and her work has been shown in exhibitions and festivals throughout North America. She is represented by Birch Librilato in Toronto.