When Tradition and Technology Collide
The recent Sakahàn exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada is an amazing collection of contemporary art created by Indigenous artists from around the world. Installations, photographs, sculptures, videos, paintings; there is something for everyone. What about new media? Well, there is some of that too!
Tlingit artist Doug Smarch is a conceptual artist whose piece Lucinations (2010) is one of the many amazing projections on display in Sakahàn. What is intriguing about this piece is that the materials combined are near polar opposites of each other; both natural and technological elements. The ‘screen’ used for Doug’s work is made up of hundreds of white feathers, while the video projection is a collection of various computer-generated images, done through the computer program Maya. His piece tells the story of a man, looking for a lost relative, and asking for help from a medicine man. After being turned into a fox by the medicine man, the protagonist of the legend finds his relative in the next village, but also a dark cloud above the village, an omen. This omen became known as the Alaskan Highway.
In a way, the materials specifically reference the legend. The feathers, a natural material often featured in traditional art and regalia, can be seen as a symbol for life before the highway, while the juxtaposition of a new media projection can be seen as the highway, paving over the traditional way of life. taking over it.
If you would like to see his work for yourself, Lucinations (2010) will be on display at the National Gallery until the 2nd of September.
If you’re interested in other works found in the Sakahàn exhibit, please read my fellow A&SJ writer Lea Hamilton’s post on another video piece, currently on display at the National Gallery.