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What's trending at Ryerson META 2012
James Fowler
March 20, 2012

META 2012 curitorial team member, Jordanne Pavao, at The School of Image Arts, Ryerson.        Photo by David Pike

I’m always on the lookout for bright new stars and what better place to find them than at art school exhibitions. Recently, I met a few of the up-and-comers behind META, Ryerson University’s annual showcase for fourth year new media students. This year there are about dozen artists in the exhibition. It takes place March 29 to 31 at Airship37 in the Distillery District.

Jordanne Pavao is one of META 2012’s curatorial team. She’s a bright-eyed pixie with poise that has her sights set on the Art Gallery of Mississauga after graduating this year. She took me on a tour of the student lab space where participants were putting the last touches on their work and gave me the lowdown on what to expect this year, offering a fresh take on what’s trending for some promising young new media artists.


Can you give us a backgrounder on the META 2012 exhibition?

META 2012 will mark the fourth annual exhibition held under Ryerson University’s New Media program. It will feature artworks created by graduating New Media students who have devoted their final year of study towards designing a thesis artwork inspired by theoretical notions that have been critically analyzed and researched throughout the duration of the four year program. In addition, META 2012 will mark the first time we have an accessible showcase. The curatorial panel has been working hard to ensure that accessibility is seen not as a privilege, but a right for all individuals living in today’s society. We believe that new media is an exemplary art form for addressing questions of accessibility, as the affordance of a multi-sensory experience transcends the notion of physical boundaries or limitations.

Tell us about some of the artists involved this year.

Ashley Lewis is one of the many talented artists whose work will be featured at the exhibition. She's known for specializing in experience design, physical computing, and sound technology. Her desire to create interactive user experiences stems from her aspiration to work in children’s media production in the hopes of creating content that highlights and promotes cultural diversity. In the four years that I've known Ashley, I can definitely say that she has worked hard for all of her achievements. Her previous project won her the Editor's Choice award at the Detroit Maker Faire for her interactive soundboard The Obama Board - it was even posted on Barack Obama's web page! It was pretty cool to see the level of response that she received from people around the world for that particular piece. Ashley's newest piece, which she plans to unveil at META 2012 has some pretty poignant political undertones to it as well. I am definitely looking forward to seeing the way that the audience interacts with her installation.  

Danielle Bossio is another unique artist that you can look forward to meeting at this year's show. She's notorious for creating work that deals with metaphorical analogies, which she likes to illustrate with a pinch of twisted humour. Her art aims to ostracize idealism and perfection. She creates oxymoronic spectacles that accentuate atypical beauty from unconventionally attractive subjects and situations. Her artwork always proves to be incredibly clever, and I think that her newest piece for META 2012 will really leave the audience awestruck.



Xhensila Zemblaku's Zoetropic Daedalum.                                                   Photo : David Pike

Maria Galaxidas'  #embodiment sculpture uses twitter crowdsourcing.      Photo: David Pike

What about some of the projects. Can you tell us what we can expect at the exhibition?

There will be over a dozen pieces unveiled. Without giving too many details away, the exhibition explores a number of different media, including interactive installation, kinetic sculpture, interactive performance, animal-generated art, audio sculpture, and video installation. 

Are there any common themes?

Some pieces analyze the Freudian notion of the subconscious mind and human behaviour, others explore the relations and disparities between the natural vs. the digital world. You'll also see a variety of cultural themes regarding social, political, and environmental issues.   

And what about the technology? What tech is at play behind some of the works?

You can expect to see game design, digital animation, augmented reality, robotic performance, and “tweetjects” (objects that tweet), to name a few.  

How does curating a new media exhibition differ from other exhibitions for you?

The process of curating a new media exhibition really pushes you to think beyond the realm of conventional art gallery displays and exhibition design. It's important to configure ways of optimizing the user's experience when it comes to new media. There's a shift in the aspect of design functionality, I suppose. The idea of "interactivity" is integral to new media art, so the process of creating an experience for the user is just as focal as the artwork itself.

What trends are you seeing in new media?

Combining physical objects with the Net as a platform for communication is a trend that’s become popular. Tweetjects are just one example of this.

Where do you see the future of new media in the next few years?

That’s a tough question. Technology is constantly redefining the notion of mobilization, specifically in regards to defying conventions of physical space and time to, instead, exist digitally/virtually. I think this technological framework will really be experimented with in the next few years as the hybridization of technology continues to develop. Being able to interact with an object that is not within physical reach is something that is currently being explored, but the ability to “exist” outside the restriction of physical space leaves a lot to be discovered. 

There has been some debate about gaming as an art form. How would you weigh in?

If we’re talking about gaming as in game design – absolutely. Having studied new media for the past four years, perhaps my opinion is biased, but I believe that the process of creating an experience between technology and a user is undoubtedly an art form.

Lastly, what are you hopes for this exhibition?

As far as the public is concerned, I hope META 2012 will broaden the scope and demographic of the emerging new media art form. Discussing the topic of new media seems to raise more questions than answers. I hope that through viewing the vast variety of new media artworks a lot of these questions will lead to new discoveries. In addition to that aspect of the show, I am excited for the artists to be acknowledged for their work among the arts industry/community of Toronto. This exhibition is an incredible opportunity: it provides a public platform for Canada’s next generation of artistic visionaries.  We have some incredibly talented artists which will be featured at this year's show, and I am looking forward to celebrating their success at our grand opening night. 


In addition to finding out about her about META 2012, I asked Jordanne ten rapidfire ART+TECH questions:


Favourite exhibition from 2011: Jack Chambers: Light, Spirit, Time, Place and Life at the AGO. I think the exhibition design was brilliantly executed.    

A future technology you are most excited about: I’ve been hearing/reading rumours about the i-Phone 5 and I hope they are all true. I really need to breakaway from my dysfunctional Blackberry (sorry, RIM). 

An Artist using new technology you think is interesting: Beatriz DaCosta’s blogject The Pigeon Blog is something I find extremely fascinating. It was created a couple years ago but the technology used is (surprisingly) still considered "trendy". It is essentially a pigeon that is hooked up to GPS tracking devices/ environmental sensors that serve to trace the amounts of pollutants the bird has flown through. 

A tech gadget you would like as a gift: A FAIL-PROOF GPS navigator...has that been invented yet? (I'm directionally challenged.) 

Given an unlimited budget, an art project would you like to initiate: I’d love to develop an interactive digital wall display at each subway platform in Toronto. It might just make those early morning commutes a little less miserable for us Torontonians. 

Favourite social media platform for personal use: I could spend hours reading blogs - but the irony is, I don't have a blog of my own because I don't seem to think that I have the time.   

A social media trend or behaviour you find irritating: The endless amount of three letter acronyms and abbreviations that have been invented as a result of social media. It's impossible for me to keep up.  It makes me feel old and outdated. That’s supposed to be my dad’s job.

The first command you would give to a personal assistant robot: Hmm, my first command would have to be: Teach me how to dance “the Robot.” Might as well learn from the best. 

Coffee or Tea: Tea, always!

Three things you love about your job: Meeting new people, exploring new technologies & discovering new ways that they’re being used, and being given the opportunity to answer questions like these. :)



You can follow META on Twitter @RyersonMeta2012. Hashtag: #META2012



James Fowler worked in public relations with organizations in various industries to achieve their communications goals and streamline their media messaging, monitoring and metrics. James currently maintains a fulltime studio practice in Toronto and has taken a keen interest in social media and eMarketing. He joined Akimbo last spring as Social Media Director.


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