In the TechLab at Surrey Art Gallery on Wednesday, artists Alex McLeod and Brendan Tang were busy setting up a video-projection system that involved "exploded" views of a ceramic vessel in an animated loop. Simultaneously, those who walked into the small room could see images of themselves on the large screen, via digital camera.
"It messes with the brain, no question," Tang said about the collaborative mixed-media installation, at the heart of the artists' new The Future is Already Here exhibit.
The gallery's latest art show opens Saturday, Jan. 19 along with two others focusing on contemporary Canadian ceramic art: Ornamentalism, featuring works by Clint Neufeld and Dirk Staschke, and Beyond the Vessel's Edge, a collection of ceramics from Surrey Art Gallery's permanent collection.
In the TechLab's Lovechild installation, digital images of Tang's vessel - covered in what appears to be grass and tiny trees, with bird-and cloud-like objects hovering - overlay the live video.
"This melding of the real and the virtual offers a new way for viewers to interface with an object in a gallery setting, without the need for a smartphone or other device," explains guest curator Rachel Lafo in an essay on The Future is Already Here.
In an adjacent gallery space, surreal environments are depicted in McLeod's computer-generated panoramic photographs, and Tang's "Manga Ormolu" ceramic vessels appear plugged in with cables otherwise used for guitar amplifiers.
The exhibit title is borrowed from writer William Gibson.
Writes Lafo: "The artists (McLeod and Tang) are time travelers who explore the fluid borders between cultural styles, juxtapose the historical with the contemporary, and suggest with their eye-catching futuristic works the growing interdependence between man and machine."
Saturday at the gallery, an exhibit opening reception involves a conversation with Lafo, McLeod and Tang, starting at 6: 30 p.m. Also planned, on Feb. 2, is a Lafo-led tour of the exhibit, followed on Feb. 7 by an Artist Talk event with Tang. For event details, call 604501-5566 or visit www.surrey.ca/arts.