Now on view at the MSVU Art Gallery 

XIA - A responsive system in which visitor’s presence triggers different emotional stages of a projected virtual character. XIA’s exhibit by Longpré questions the screen’s materiality, spatiality, and interactivity as influential factors in augmented bodily experiences of selected moving images. Since 1999, Philomène Longpré, an artist and multisensory media researcher, has been developing a series of screen-reliant art systems that translate body language and behavioral patterns while exploring intricate interactions between the physical and virtual world. 

In a darkened gallery space, on a luscious, luminous carnation ground, a velvety black charcoal bloom – like the dusky, polleny heart of a poppy – is both the setting and the trace of a captive’s struggle. The caught creature’s body is sheathed in pale pink; periodically a dark vermilion wing unfurls from the body or curls around it. In a state of rest, she appears to float weightlessly in her dusty den, but she springs into activity as the viewer approaches. Legs scrabble; head and arms jerk mechanically; hands reach out to either side as if to ward off something or someone sensed but unseen. But even as she writhes, slowly turns, or curls up into a foetal position, the near-weightless being remains trapped in her flowery prison. To the sounds of crickets, water, creaking wood, industry, and traffic, the life-sized figure’s identity oscillates between swirling dancer, suspended siren, and franticly fluttering bird or butterfly. Incalculable time passes as we watch. As she moves, the creature becomes more and more coated in black dust; her facial features disappear Under a velvet mask. At moments she vanishes, flickers out of sight; at others she freezes in strobe light. As though a microcosm enormously magnified, the figure in her radiant carnation snare seems like a close-up from a nature film. The tableau is beautiful and harrowing; we are captivated by this scene of capture.