Mark Laliberte is a project-based, hybrid media artist currently working in collage, curation, design, language, and video, with an MFA from the University of Guelph. He has exhibited and performed extensively in galleries across Canada and the USA, and now resides in Toronto, where he is the managing editor and designer of Carousel. His latest curatorial project, WNDW, is a multi-site project that links a cross-section of Toronto’s independent street-level window galleries for the first time to explore how vacant windows in downtown cores are being transformed into 24-hour walk-by galleries. WNDW is the latest installment of the Carousel Exhibition Series; individual artist projects open this Thursday and Friday.
1. Skull collecting
Vita brevis breviter in brevi finietur / Mors venit velociter quae neminem veretur / Omnia mors perimit et nulli miseretur / Ad mortem festinamus peccare desistamus
Each day I remind myself of this at skullcollector.tumblr.com.
2. Looped animated GIFs
While I can still appreciate the wonderful formality of narrative film and the experiential arc of long-form video, I am quite simply hooked on the flickering beauty of the looped, animated GIF. These short clips fulfill some kind of undeniable desire within me; they are the bright light and I am the moth. The formula is so simple: cut out a bit of something that already moves with a larger purpose, isolate a singular moment and focus on it in order to intensify it and recontextualize it; lock it forever into a hypnotic ouroboros formation. A good looping GIF is a kind of visual exclamation mark / a perfect, eye-zapping couple of seconds / media eating its own tale.
I decided early on that words are as crucial as images, and have developed a fond affection for the creative manipulation of language and its component parts, particularly through wordplay. This means that I enjoy AAA phonebook listings, concrete/shape/visual poetry, crosswords, emoticons, experimental alphabets, font foundries, headlines, in-jokes, misspellings, paronomasia, punch lines, ransom notes, slogans, text-based art practices, wordscraping, and Z/endings.
"Let Down Your Avant-Garde!"
4. Piano sounds, bass frequencies, white noise
Music is a certifiable obsession with me. To put it in context: as of this writing, there are 82,982 songs —more than 251 days of music — in my carefully catalogued iTunes library, and it won't stop growing. With too much to choose from, one wonders how I decide what to play during the ten or so hours each day when I have music on. It's a collage of choices, each day is different from the last — but I have noticed a pattern. The mornings tend to start out soft, full of piano notes, vocals, more traditional instrumentation. By mid-day, the tempo increases, the patterns become more complex and the bottom-end rises dominant. "Bass" describes tones of low frequency or range, and I really do love its presence in my life. That warm, physical rumble is comforting. I think my body needs it, the way some people need coffee, which I never drink. This amorphous low frequency thumping adds energy to my day, rattles my skull towards new ideas (talk to me, wobble bass, you are an alien intelligence). Much of the day remains deeply upbeat. By nightfall, things tend to get more atmospheric, almost dusty with texture. That's when the more ambient, atonal parts of my collection come out, full of harsh tones, freeform structures, white noise. Often, I find myself going to sleep with the music on — and in the morning it starts all over again.
And yes, I realized long ago my neighbours must hate me : (
5. The charm of aging paper
The art world is terrified of showing its age. Terms like “acid-free”, “archival” and “pH neutral” are of material concern to anyone striving to capture even the thinnest sliver of immortality through artmaking. If this is your goal, lignin is your enemy. As we all know, paper is made from wood. Wood is, in turn, made of carbohydrates like cellulose and lignin. Lignin is a very complicated molecule that adds hardness to wood. However, in paper lignin breaks down over time due to exposure to air and sunlight, and forms phenolic acids, which are yellow in colour. In general, this is something artists want to avoid — it's an understandable obsession, but at some point the whole machine starts to seem a little too white. By embracing the reality that works can continue to change, I have learned to appreciate an acid-heavy colour scheme. Collagists find beauty in working with papers that, by their very nature, have revealed the varied palette of yellows that age brings. Unstable materials have a charm all their own; that's what makes old books so appealing.
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