Monday, December 11, 2017

UVic prof uses video games to challenge art

January 4, 2017 by David McEwan, contributing writer

Megan Dickie’s motivation to become an artist came early: her father worked in architecture and construction, and her mother was a schoolteacher. Dickie—who is also an assistant professor of visual art at the University of Victoria—always created things as a child and, she says, had a hunger for drawing, which continued into her adult life.

“After I finished my undergrad degree I had other creative jobs,” she says. “I worked as a graphic designer; I worked for a commercial gallery. It was at that point that I just realized that I would prefer to do my own work and work for myself instead of doing creative work for other people.”

The purpose of her artwork is to cause the viewer to be critical of our society, but, she says, it’s not always as serious as that sounds.

A still from one of Megan Dickie’s pieces in One Way or Another (photo provided).

“My art practice is about questioning things, maybe trying to look at certain modes of being and trying to subvert those things,” she says. “I’m fascinated by those moments in human behaviour where the logic of our minds or maybe the social norms that we’re used to are pushed to the wayside and we experience things more in a humorous way or in a light-hearted way.”

One Way or Another, an exhibit of Dickie’s artwork at Open Space, employs video games as a means of questioning the competitive structure of contemporary art and our enduring fascination with watching human struggle. The project consists of sculptures and a video trilogy that takes inspiration from 1980s video games.

“The project uses 1980s video games as a visual platform for the works; those are the video games I grew up with, like Donkey Kong and basic Atari games,” she says. “So I’ve used that as a visual strategy for a project, but it has the look and feel of a video game and the character’s constantly failing and dying, then [the character] pops up on the screen again and tries again.”

An older work of Dickie’s was based on a complex math equation regarding how five circles can come together; for the piece, she kept building the circles in modes of five until they started to make a sphere. She took that form and made it into a giant playful piece, The Jiggler. It’s an example of a serious idea with a fun delivery.

“I see people looking at my artwork. It’s a slight moment people choose to almost go to a child-like state and embrace something fun,” she says. “I find that people are very guarded, especially in gallery situations. You see people in the gallery with their arms crossed in front of them and then, all of a sudden, they see that something is playful.”

One Way or Another
Friday, January 13 to Monday, February 20
Open Space
openspace.ca

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