It is in the context of Sporobole’s new cycle of activities (2021-2023), centered on the question of the porosity between the real and the virtual, that we present the exhibition The Spectrum of Objects, bringing together works by Shanie Tomassini, Martin Beauregard, Khadija Aziz and Philippe Internoscia.

The objects that surround us are rarely univocal. And if only because they surround us – and we project our perceptions onto them – we invest them with double meanings, if not multiple significations. Like the light spectrum, they decompose and diffract into ghosts of themselves before our eyes and the readings of the world they carry. What inhabits us necessarily follows us wherever we lay our eyes, and our understanding of each thing, when taken distinctly, seeks its grips under solid surfaces. 

The Spectrum of Objects focuses on how objects are reinvested with meaning. The porosity between reality and the virtual – whether tangible or metaphorical – and how it affects the perception of our immediate environment are at the heart of this reflection and the artworks that participate. Questions of familiarity and obsolescence of objects, as well as fragility and malleability of matter are also evoked. In echo with a certain neo-materialism, things and the perception they induce interact in a dynamic of reciprocity.

The digital duplication of the objects of the world is like a ghostly doppelganger whose presence veils and reveals reality at the same time. The intertwining of the tangible and the immaterial is no longer speculative: it accompanies us from now on in our daily lives. Few of our gestures, actions and thoughts are free from a rapport to the digital. We could say that it has become a permanent mental load, a perceptive spectrum: the materiality of reality on the one hand, its volatile counterpart on the other – between the two, a constant negotiation, a perpetual adaptation. 


Shanie Tomassini‘s sculptural installation Rosemary Screen (2021) emphasizes the impermanence and transformative potential of matter, as well as its resilience to embody and modulate itself according to the conditions imposed upon it. The use of incense as a material allows to realize this passage from a form to another, from a reality to its opposite : its image redoubled, reinvested and transfigured. Molded, dried, then burned, these objects made of rosemary, rose, cedar, white oak or coal, are then situated at a distance from their source reference. That is to say, cell phones, whose variety of models marks the passage of time and the obsolescence it generates. These models were not chosen randomly: they all belonged to the artist, underlining the personal dimension of any temporality and the tangibility with which it crosses our lives. As a micro-portal between reality and the virtual, the smartphone has become a multifunctional object whose importance allows us to measure the extent to which our reality is now deployed in the form of infinite redoublements in the digital world. Reducing reality to ashes cannot erase its parallel existence, its spectre of zeros and ones. Would the virtualization of the world have become the contemporary phoenix?


The question of the affectional  reinvestment of everyday objects is central to the intent of Martin Beauregard‘s CGI animated video Another Day After Eternity (2017). If Tomassini’s telephones go to ashes, the fragility and friability of the world is evoked here through digital “patterns” that act as extensions of objects of domestic life. Concretely, the latter are covered and augmented with formal or visual elements that refer, in filigree, to the tragic events of the attacks in Paris (2015), Brussels (2016) and Istanbul (2016). The work on sound adds to the whole by giving it accents of reality and strangeness, through the use – filtered and modified – of recordings related to these events. Sound is also materialized through a body of sculptural works. Sounding Trauma (2017), a series of objects presented in parallel to the video, echoes the digital manipulations of the image. Visual and formal results of sound wave impulses on 3D modeling elements, the material incarnations that emerge are inhabited by the trauma inflicted by a certain passage through the world. Aren’t our objects always redoubled by our experiences and our emotions?    


Khadija Aziz‘s stop-motion animation, Smocking a Smock (2021) – whose final form is an animated GIF – also speaks to us about the reinvestment of the object and its possible states through the intertwining of materiality and immateriality, the real and the virtual. The work shows the process of a textile stitching technique called “smocking”, which allows a fabric to stretch without elastics while giving it a particular dimensional design. The artist first created a simple smocking pattern on white cotton. This was then scanned flat, generating a slight visual glitch. The distorted image that emerged was then enlarged and digitally printed onto cotton sateen, resetting the original dimensional fabric. In this GIF, the artist uses thread and needle on the printed fabric to further distort the digital imagery by replicating the original smocking pattern. The work highlights how the hybridity between the real and the virtual modifies not only the object itself but also our perception of it. The repetition, the redoubling of techniques, and the superimposition of the digital on the material generate an effect of spectral splitting that blurs and enlightens the reading all at once.


Catalog (2021), Philippe Internoscia‘s CGI animation video, shifts our assumptions about the primary perception of objects in relation to their formal referent. At first sight, we think that we recognize a form, a function. Then quickly we see that we do not see – or perhaps we see ghosts? Our almost immediate reflex to put a layer of meaning on an object in relation to what it really represents, creates here a blurring effect, not optical, but metaphysical: what is our real knowledge of this object? It is our perceptual nostalgia that is working. A kind of promotional display of apparently functional objects, but which turns out to be useless in the end, Catalog plunges us in a contemplation of our collective emotional memory. The delirious formal assembly of these objects make them specters of a reality that is both recognizable and elusive – the whole being reinforced by the presence of an invented writing: an erased lost language or unthought future. What is also brought to the forefront is our consumerist and productivist relationship to inducing meaning and needs in our relationship to our environments and what composes them. What if what makes sense – to use an Anglicism that accentuates the idea of a certain fabrication – can be sustained by continually escaping us?

The artist wishes to thank the Canada Council for the Arts for its financial support.


Photo credits (left to right):
Khadija Aziz, Smocking a Smock, 2021;
Shanie Tomassini, Rosemary Screen, 2021 (crédit :  Jean-Michel Seminaro);
Philippe Internoscia, Catalog, 2021;
Martin Beauregard, Another Day After Eternity, 2017.







Exhibition’s photos credits : François Lafrance