where the senses fail us

New works by Jeanette Johns and Clint Enns
Curated by Kerri-Lynn Reeves
Opening: Sunday, November 29, 2009 from 2 till 6
Show: Sunday, November 29, 2009 till Saturday, January 30, 2010
Gallery 803
803 Erin St.

Jeanette John’s Artist Statement:

As an artist I am continually excited to process and translate ideas and concepts into works on paper. I am dedicated to investigating my artistic interests and eager to research new themes as they emerge. Observation is my initial inspiration. Viewpoints I like to observe from are seeing from afar and above, like looking out of an airplane window, or examining how objects with a structure are put together, like the pattern of a knitted mitten. I begin to see patterns and look for purpose in all components, and find a logic that was perhaps hidden from me. I look for order in apparent chaos by both stepping back and seeing the larger picture and taking a closer look at the inner workings of a system. I explore the relationship between observation and aesthetic experience by constructing and layering imagery of maps, diagrams, graphs and geometric patterns.

I try to translate the beauty of order into my work. Sometimes it comes out looking like a diagram or graph. Map imagery is very important to me because it renders the essential of what needs to be represented in the form of symbols. The languages of landscape and geography are appealing because they are often quiet and unassuming, giving the impression of holding hidden truths about place and time. The visual systems I create repeatedly hint at the scientific and seem to retain a sense of usefulness or of presenting factual information, holding themselves with certainty in the concepts they are presenting. It is also vital that I hint at human weakness and the reality of our imperfect existence by considering the implications of a hand drawn line.

I would present myself as a printmaker, meaning I am the most comfortable having the print process, whether silkscreen, etching or less traditional methods, between me and the finished work. The process is exciting because it allows me time to achieve detail by focusing on technique but also gives time to get lost in the repetitive and seemingly mundane method. The printed quality is integral to the work because it enhances the impression of a diagram or document. It removes the immediacy that a pen or brush suggest. Printing also allows repetition and permutation of marks which permits for playing with layers, building multiples that can result in thematic variation, each aspect of the process informing the other. Printmaking therefore can give opportunity for intuitive work that is conscious of a certain set of restrictions or a decided set of boundaries to work within.


Circling the Image: Sharing π with A. K. Dewdney
Written by Leslie Supnet

Clint Enns’ Circling the Image brings to life the structuralist film Alexander Keewatin Dewdney had always wanted to make, but never did. Dewdney, a Canadian mathematician, computer scientist and philosopher, was an influential experimental filmmaker in the 1960s, during his time as a bored graduate student in the US. “There has to be more to life than math and science.”1 While completing his Master’s thesis in mathematics, Dewdney began experimenting with rapid-fire moving imagery and single frame animations. He made six films during this time, including the pre-structuralist The Maltese Cross Movement (1967) and Malanga (1967). While Dewdney’s filmmaking career was short, it left an indelible impression in the history of independent American cinema. In Wheeler Winston Dixon’s survey of American experimental cinema, The Exploding Eye, Dewdney discusses how his teaching career in computer science left little room for him to pursue filmmaking, as well as an idea for a film he never completed:

The movie I always wanted to make, but never did, was an animation involving real objects. Take a circle. You can find circles in a lot of places, like hubcaps, shower heads, pupils of eyes, door knobs and so on. Shoot, say, two frame of each circular object and make sure that each new subject has its circle in the same place (or nearly so-therein lies the art). The effect would be stupendous! 2

Circling the Image, Enns’ new animation, uses Dewdney’s original idea as a starting point, creating a hyper-fast work which plays with Galileo’s idea that “Where the senses fail us, reason must step in.” Since our eyes cannot keep up with the speed of the imagery, our brain must fill in the data.

Much like Dewdney, Clint Enns began his experimental film explorations while a graduate student studying Mathematics at the University of Manitoba, which he is currently completing. Enns made his first experimental film in 2007, and since then has created over 20 short films and videos, and has screened his work internationally at festivals, at galleries, and at microcinemas. Specifically, Enns is currently working with video from a perspective coined by John McAndrew as destructural video and defined as “an art movement of video and moving image artists who aestheticize the exploration of medium specific flaws which perpetrate themselves as visual and/or audible glitches in their work.” 3

1Wheeler Winston Dixon, The Exploging Eye: A Re-Visionary History of 1960s American Experimental Cinema, (State University of New York Press, 1997) 49.

2Ibid.

3John McAndrew, Destructural Video, 2009, <http://destructuralvideo.blogspot.com/>

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From Uptown Magazine December 21, 2009

Imposing order
Jeanette Johns and Clint Enns represent two sides of system-based art production

A mathematician and a print maker have an art show together. It’s not the set-up for a joke; rather it’s the result of an insight into the role of reason at work in both Clint Enns’ and Jeanette Johns’ artistic practices that led Gallery 803 curator Kerri-Lynn Reeves to this unusual artistic pairing.

Johns’ maps of ancient Lake Agassiz are literal treasure maps, embellished with crinkled skins of gold. The prints trace the profile of the lake as it expands, shrinks and distorts over the millennia.

Her gilded maps mark for us a spot long since vanished. For Johns, it seems, map-making is about the unique visual order maps impose upon the world, rather than the need to create useful and coherent information.

A straightforward reading is further frustrated by a swarm of orderly slashes, joined by more slashes and some dashes. Together they create interlocking triangles and a dizzying optical effect – the pattern arranges itself in rows of triangles that mysteriously shift to become umbrellas, stars or cubes. The printmaker’s craft reveals no stray lines, no poorly matched corners and no gaps in this ordered meeting of lines.

Despite its regimented neatness and sharp corners, the pattern seems too perfect to be man-made. It’s as if the pattern has made itself, replicating itself across the terrain of the paper. Miraculously, the composition never appears haphazard or crowded.

The clinical effect of all this geometric precision is mediated by meandering contour lines and a light wash of a particularly ethereal shade of azure. (I noted that the cushions on the sofa in the furniture show room that doubles as Gallery 803 were gold and pale turquoise.) The overall effect is tranquil – the way each map creates and restrains disorder – with a touch of glacial chill.

There is a large work, splotched with transparent colours, by Johns on another wall, but it is anomalous to the series and better left undiscussed.

Enns’ energetic video Circling the Image can be found at the back of the gallery, its strobing images wisely not allowed to intrude on John’s dainty cartography.

A mathematician and self-taught new media artist, Enns’ body of work also displays a fondness for an orderly, system-based approach to art-making.

Following master filmmaker A. K. Dewdney’s prescription for the film he always wanted to make but never did, Enns has created an animation focused on geometry.

The concept is one of elegant simplicity – photograph circular objects so that they always appear the same size in the same area of the screen. Two images should be placed side by side.

The result is a fascinating slice of our visual culture. Twin images appear for fractions of a second: a blue painted manhole cover, the lid to an Aquafina bottle, an ashtray. The mundane is suddenly fascinating – the uniqueness of each object underscored by the common motif of the circle.

Again, the theme of ordering the world around us emerges, proving that where the senses fail us is not such an oddball matchup after all.

– Sandee Moore

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From The Uniter January 13, 2010

Mathematics is the universal language
Winnipeg artists Clint Enns and Jeanette Johns join forces to assault the senses

Opened at the end of November, Where the Senses Fail Us combines the talents of artists Clint Enns and Jeanette Johns, with the help of curator Kerri-Lynn Reeves.

The exhibit contrasts the work of the pair of talented Winnipeggers, whose projects are as different as the mediums they have chosen. Surprisingly, it’s math that these artists have as the common denominator, a connection made apparent by Reeves as curator.

While Enns uses a continued circle to piece together a mesmerizing stop animation video, Johns uses maps, diagrams and printmaking to create beautiful and calming images using geometric patterns.

Enns, who is currently completing his Master’s in mathematics at the University of Manitoba, is a prolific filmmaker and also a member of Video Pool.

His piece, entitled “Circling the Image,” was inspired by the words of filmmaker Alexander Keewatin Dewdney, and is both hypnotic and chaotic. Finding circular objects of colourful things like labels, logos, dials and even a clown’s face, Enns sends them all flipping passed at lightning speed in stop animation form.

The remainder of the exhibit showcases the work of Jeanette Johns, a fellow U of M grad who currently works at the Manitoba Print Makers’ Association and at Martha Street Studios. Her processes vary from traditional printmaking techniques, like silkscreen and etching, as well as paper marbling, gold leaf and digital printing.

Johns’ work in the show starts with a series called “Retreating Agassiz,” a group of prints based on the movements of the glacial lake Agassiz that uses maps and printmaking.

“The language of landscape holds hidden truths about time and space,” Johns said via e-mail while on her honeymoon.

Another piece entitled “No Monument is at all Comparable to Virtuous Actions” is an inkjet print on marbled paper that is also very map-like but doesn’t incorporate any maps; rather, the swirly areas of colour resemble continents or islands. Graph-like lines quiver across the piece, making it look like a map of an unknown place or perhaps one from the past, which ties in with Johns’ interests.

“I attempt to translate a certain comfort that comes from looking back at our shared past and reveal the mystery of attempting to keep records of passing time,” Johns said.

“Observation is my initial inspiration. Viewpoints that I like to observe from are seeing from afar and above, like looking out of an airplane window,” she added when asked about the inspirations for her work.

But her keen observations also like to focus on patterns, like finding the beauty within a knitted mitten.

“I’m not only attracted to the colors and patterns but also the history of documents and how people carry them and hold onto them as if it gives them some strange sense of security.”

– James Culleton

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~ by cineflyer on November 19, 2009.

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