The new exhibit at the DHC Art Foundation opened on January 18th. The installation consists of the  animations and photographs of artist Thomas Demand. The gallery is filled with five short stop-motion animations, as well as two floors of photographs. Demand works in at a life size scale, and in paper medium.

The DHC is located at 451 and 465, rue St- Jean in Montreal’s Old Port. In the first building the viewer is greeted by a reel to reel tape deck with a short repeating musical score that plays a haunting yet lovely tune. Finally a set of banal escalators (Escalator 2001) run up and down on the second floor. As it plays through an exposed 35 mm projector, squeaks and chugs of the machine working fills the space as the animated loop plays.

The third holds Yellowcake (2007), several images of the inside of a building, one of which is an elevator with the green ‘up’ light constantly illuminated. On the top floor the visitor is confronted with Embassy (2007). This series of photographs represent the scene of a break in at the Niger embassy in Rome that was later tied to the excuse used by George Bush for the invasion of Iraq.

The next building features a minute long animation called Pacific Sun (2012). The short re-models a youtube clip captured of a cruise ship during a storm. The details are immaculate. Each component featured is an exact replica of those in the clip, down to the straws and ketchup bottles that slide across the floor. In the same room in the opposite corner, an animation of a security camera (Camera (2007) is projected. The details are so well composed that you can even catch the reflection of the imagined floor in it’s screen as the camera does it’s rounds.

The final animation exhibited is Rain (2008). In this Demand recreates the sound and visual of rain falling. The piece is meditative and entrancing, I stayed with it for the longest of all the pieces. Each droplet is made up of individual candy wrappers, and the noise is eggs frying. It is a piece so simple in it’s concept, yet so complex in it’s construction.

Demand’s work echoes the outdated idea of art for art’s sake, in the most positive and innovative way. In the 21st century, contemporary art is too often dismissed if it does not take on a commentary or motive that addresses social or political concerns. The work Embassy does indeed do this, but the majority of the artist’s creations allow for a simpler, more accessible message. While his works have a philosophical element that questions our perceptions, they remain beautifully banal. In the case of rain we are urged to examine how we perceive the world around us. It functions as a trompe-l’oeil, as we examine what seems like such a everyday occurrence, we realize it is far from what we presume it to be. The simple fact that these realistic works are entirely made of paper is enougThomas demandh of a commentary in itself.

As we enter further into what is being deemed pseudo-modern times, art for art’s sake is becoming more obsolete. Unlike some, I believe that the techniques being used in new media art have the right to be explored like previous artists explored the dimensions and boundaries of painting and sculpture. It is not always necessary for art to have an underlying commentary, I feel like the honest admittance of the exploration of a medium is completely just reason for creation. Especially with the boundaries between art and science becoming more blurred, there is so much room for innovation. In this age of contemporary art, I am starting to long for more art for art’s sake.

Lamp show

This past week Café Zosha played host to a different type of DJ set. Upon entering the space, nothing seemed odd or unusual. The narrow café was decorated with the usual cozy décor, with the addition of a lamp on each table. Together there were 12 domestic style lamps creating ambient light through the space. Some look like the one’s in your grandparent’s house, while others are seemingly generic like they were found in a Home Hardware decor section.


Lamps lined benches and perched on armchairs while some spilled over onto the floor. Within the first few moments of entering, the audience became aware of a technological presence. The light of the side lamps faded slowly in and out, creating high and low light. The pulsating lamps soothed and calmed as we all settled in for a peculiar type of orchestral experience.

Music for 12 Domestic Lamps is an installation and improvisational performance project created by Adam Basanta, Julian Stein and Max Stein. The three artists work as composers and media artists. For this particular event the trio control the behaviour of the 12 lamps from behind their laptops. The lamps emit sound and light as a reaction to the actions of the artists controlling them. With the use of digital mixers and programming interfaces, these mundane objects are turned into objects of fascination. Through the artists manipulation, the environment is altered by controlling the expressions of the items within.

When the trio got behind their digital mixing boards, the atmosphere changed and the audience’s attention focused. The audio and visuals start slowly and subtly, then become more aggressive and pronounced through the duration of the piece. The light being emitted from the 12 lamps function as a visual representation of the audio waves being pumped through the loud speakers.

music for lamps
Adam Basanta, Julian Stein and Max Stein, photo by Adrian Kornelsen.


The improvised composition is made up of sound bytes that range from jarring to tranquil. Among many, you can pick up the creaks of poorly oiled doors, a jingle of coins, and the soft sounds of breathing. A ringing phone in the distance is represented by short bursts of light, the crackling voice of the operator that follows is a less intense visual, and then the dial tone beeps the lamp’s glow on and off. The performance lasted for approximately half and hour, and though at times it was agitating I thoroughly enjoyed it. As the three settled in, the digital orchestra became less scattered and more rhythmic as they tapped their feet and bobbed their heads.

Music for 12 Domestic Lamps has been in production for a year now, with the initial performance having taken place in April of 2012. The Café hosted the second and third performance of it last Monday and Tuesday night. The next happening will be on March 2nd at the Goethe-Instut here in Montreal. Take a look at the video from the last exhibition.