The sample can be an aspect of scientific objectivity or part of ecological ethics of connection—allowing artists to explore what experimental film historian Kim Knowles calls an “aesthetics of contact.” Through formal and material interventions, images can represent fluid agencies of non-human natures linking the surface of a photograph to a site that supplements and complicates the representational image. Addressing the role of photography in modern scientific paradigms of vision, the artists invite microbes, plants, fungi and other critters to render their images in unexpected ways.
Curated by Laurie White
For more information read Aesthetics of Contact: An Eco-Materialist Photography, an essay by curator and writer Laurie White.
Víctor Ballesteros is an artist and filmmaker based in Vancouver. Through ultra-high-definition video, photography and writing, his current work explores materials used in the architecture of museums and galleries—such as plywood and drywall—and their relation to art display, colonial history, geopolitical competition and financial investment in North and South America. Ballesteros studied art and art history at Emily Carr University of Art + Design and the University of British Columbia and has received support from the BC Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Ramey Newell is a filmmaker, photographer and artist based in British Columbia and Oregon. Newell holds a BFA in Photography from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Visual Art from the University of British Columbia and has shown work in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. Newell was awarded the Stellar Award at Black Maria Film Festival in 2018 and won the Symbiosis competition at Imagine Science Film Festival in 2022. She teaches film studies, video production, and documentary film at the UBC Okanagan.
Tara Nicholson is a photo-based artist whose practice explores ecological activism through a more-than-human lens. She has exhibited across Canada and internationally, funded by the BC Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. Nicholson attended an eco-art residency at the Banff Centre in 2019 and was awarded the Künstlerhaus Dortmund Artist-in-Residence Award in 2017. She teaches at the University of Victoria and holds degrees from Toronto Metropolitan University and Concordia University. Nicholson is completing a PhD at the UBC Okanagan, which documents Arctic extinction and permafrost research—considering the role of storytelling in enacting change.
Deb Silver is a multimedia artist living and working on S’ólh Téméxw. Silver holds an MFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design and a BFA from the University of the Fraser Valley. Silver’s art practice draws attention to the interconnection between Coast Salish Cultural Knowledge and Western science research. Silver has exhibited at The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford, The Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver and was a finalist for the 2021 Philip B. Lind Emerging Artist Prize.
Laurie White (she/her) is a curator and writer based in Vancouver, unceded territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and səlilwətaɬ First Nations. Her research explores ecological methodologies in art and theory—curating exhibitions and programs at Or Gallery, grunt gallery, Griffin Art Projects, the fifty fifty arts collective and Documenta 14. Recent publications include “Every Being is a Score for Another” in Wetland Project: Explorations in Sound, Ecology and Post-Geographical Art). She holds an MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies and is pursuing a PhD in Art History from the University of British Columbia.
Karen Zalamea is a Filipino-Canadian artist, educator and cultural worker based in Burnaby, on the unceded and ancestral territories of the Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking peoples. Her interdisciplinary practice is rooted in photography and critically considers methodologies, materiality and modes of presentation. Zalamea’s work has received support from the Canada Council for the Arts, The BC Arts Council and Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. Zalamea has attended artist residencies in the Philippines, Iceland and Canada and was the recipient of the 2023 Prefix Prize. Zalamea holds an MFA from Concordia University and a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design.