The Force at work / La Force en action

The Force at work / La Force en action
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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Embodied narrative - Sensory Stories of the digital age 14.06. > 21.08.2016 Phi Centre

Penny Mancuso, Charles Melcher Photo © Lena Ghio, 2016

What a great way to start the week, visiting the latest exhibition at Phi Centre in old Montreal. In all there are 13 new exhibits including the mysterious film Seances from a collective that brings together Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson and the National Film Board. Sample it here.

The new chairs are excellent for the VR experience because you are secure in your seat and as you spin in the chair your virtual world spins with you. Very COOL! There are technicians everywhere to assist you and ensure that you get the best immersive tour. Photo © Lena Ghio, 2016.

I stayed in the exhibition for 2 hours and got to experience 6 artworks. My first was Notes on blindness: Into Darkness by Arnaud Colinart, Amaury La Burthe, Peter Middleton and James Spinney. I found this experience, based on the life of John Hull, a writer who became blind while still a young parent, terribly moving and inspirational. It's his voice you hear as you experience his disintegrating vision expressed as a dark space where forms are outlined by luminous electric blue contours. I loved the segments I chose, rain, wind. You are in this man's space perceiving an exact replica of his porch as he sees with raindrops and wind chimes.

I fell in love with Nomads: Sea Gypsies by Felix & Paul Studios. It is a very short film but suddenly you appear in the midst of these rare human being's lives right on the blue sea of Borneo. It is simply amazing! You go fish with one man, you cook with the women, you feel the motion of being on a boat. I loved it!
Frederik Duerink from Sense of Smell beside the Famous Death crematorium. As you can see the photograph I took of the artist is slightly ghoulish. The containers beside M. Duering hold the various smells that will be injected inside the box.
Photo © Lena Ghio, 2016 
Famous Deaths by Sense of Smell is a daring installation that I was not at ease experiencing. The artist I spoke with, Frederik Duerink, is brilliant and well spoken but I could not bring myself to slide down a crematorium conveyor belt into a dark space. Those that were brave enough to go in told me it was quite cozy even pleasant. The concept is to recreate in sound and aroma the last moments of life of two famous people who died tragically, John F. Kennedy and Whitney Houston.

The Phi Center still offers its Sensory Stories free on the first floor next to their really cool boutique but this exhibition requires tickets. There may be line-ups to your favorite art works but it is really well worth the wait! Enjoy your journeys.

-LENA GHIO 

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