INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

GEOFFREY PUGEN

 WRITTEN BY: OLGA BERGMANS

Ritchie Park, 36x24, Archival Pigment Print, 2023
Ritchie Park, 36x24, Archival Pigment Print, 2023

Q+A

What are some of the defining goals you have for people who consume your art? In addition- is there anything that stands out that you’d like people to take away? 

“My art aims to provoke a re-evaluation of our interactions with technology and nature. I hope to inspire viewers to see technology not merely as a tool but as a medium that can enhance our understanding of the natural world and contribute to harmonious coexistence. Projects like “Utopics” have explored these themes by using metaphors such as humans transforming into animals to comment on technology’s role in revealing our deepest desires and connecting us more profoundly with nature.”

Malware, 4k Video Still, 2022
Malware, 4k Video Still, 2022

Can you talk about some of your early inspirations in your career- specifically the use of technology in your art?

Utopics played a pivotal role in shaping my artistic practice, serving as an exploration into the relationship between humanity, technology, and nature. This early work was inspired by the metaphorical potential of technology to both expose our primal instincts and forge deeper connections with the environment. It reflects my belief that through understanding the mechanics of nature and physics, humanity can utilize technology to foster a more harmonious world. To actualize this project I started working with docu-fiction, a technique I’ve employed to weave documentary and fiction, transforming authentic stories into compelling narratives. This approach allows me to create stories that resonate on an authentic level while navigating the boundaries between truth and perception. Additionally, my work with photo collages serves as a medium to dissect and reassemble the natural and technological worlds, offering a unique perspective on their coexistence and mutual influence.”

Morning After, 40x40, cprint, 2009
Morning After, 40x40, cprint, 2009

How do you think social media has impacted the way we showcase art? 

“I think social media is a way to communicate with your community and just say I’m here, let’s have a conversation. If you wanted to make a job out of that, it would be something else, and not something I personally do. You’d have to maybe make some memes or something. If you’re going to create content it has to be fashionable, or a vlog with some kind of commentary so everyone is kind of contributing to the conversation that’s happening online. I think Vision Pro and all this mixed reality will change the social media we have now. When we get into the 3rd-dimensional world, it might even give people a space to express themselves that we haven’t even seen yet.”

Reference Library, 48x32, Archival Pigment Print, 2023
Reference Library, 48x32, Archival Pigment Print, 2023

What is a personal favourite project of yours?

“My personal favorite project is “Weather Room,” which is an exploration into the speculative future where humanity has vanished, allowing machines to thrive. I think that body of work was one of my breakthroughs. This project, blending video, photography, and sculpture, delves into themes of hyper-sublime and apocalyptic visions, utilizing art-historical traditions to speculate on post-human narratives. It’s a contemplation on the legacy of human existence through the lens of data persistence, presenting a world where human presence is digitally erased, inviting viewers to reflect on our impact and the enduring nature of our digital footprints.”

Mushroom Plastic, 32x32, C-Print, 2009
Mushroom Plastic, 32x32, C-Print, 2009

Moving forward, what is a project you are excited about right now?

“I’m particularly excited about the continuation and expansion of the ‘Ecosphere’ series. This series explores the intricate relationship between digital environments and our ecological concerns, bringing to light the potential for technology to foster a deeper understanding of and connection with our natural world. What excites me most about continuing this series is the opportunity to delve deeper into the symbiotic relationship between technological advancements and ecological consciousness, focusing on how nature constructs biomes and ecosystems. With each new installment, I hope to challenge and expand our understanding of how digital landscapes can serve as a medium for critical ecological awareness and action, inviting viewers to engage with and reflect on their role within the natural world.”

E-Sphere 2 (Image 1), 2022
E-Sphere 2 (Image 1), 2022
E-SPhere 2 (Image 2), 2022
E-SPhere 2 (Image 2), 2022

Can you expand on the idea of the theme ‘conflicts between the virtual and the real’ in your art? 

“The theme of conflicts between the virtual and real in my art seeks to explore the tension and interdependence between these realms. Through my work, I investigate how virtual experiences shape our perceptions of reality, identity, and community. This theme is a reflection on the contemporary human condition, navigating an ever-evolving digital landscape that both mirrors and distorts our physical world.”

Cloats and Jossger, 20x30, C- Print, 2007
Cloats and Jossger, 20x30, C- Print, 2007

You’re a lecturer here at TMU, can you share some of your favourite mediums to teach and how this has impacted you as an artist? 

“Teaching film technology, storytelling, 3D modelling, and animation at TMU has profoundly influenced my artistic practice. These disciplines offer a palette for creative experimentation, allowing me to share with students the potential of technology as both a narrative and visual tool. The reciprocal nature of teaching and learning has been incredibly rewarding; this dynamic exchange not only enriches my work but also reinforces the importance of exploring new technologies and techniques in both artistic creation and education.”

Geoffrey Pugen

Geoffrey
Pugen

Geoffrey Pugen is an artist experimenting at the intersection of technology and nature through video, photo and installation. Thematically, Pugen contemplates speculative futures, transhumanism, the impact of nature on society and conflicts between the virtual and the real. His most recent sculptural work integrates video screen technology into architectural forms, creating spatially-synced multi-screen installations. His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto, Transmediale, Berlin, WRO Biennial in Poland,  Bienal De La Imagen En Movimiento, Buenos Aires,  Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Rotterdam Film Festival.  He is a recipient of the K.M Hunter Award for Interdisciplinary Art.

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