Sunday, December 17, 2017

Victoria’s Robert Youds uses everyday items to explore time

November 15, 2017 by Adam Boyle, staff writer

Victoria-based artist Robert Youds took a different approach than most artists to his new exhibit. Youds, who is also a Visual Arts professor at UVic, spent a year on his new exhibit, For Everyone a Fountain, which he describes as a blend of architecture, art, and landscapes; it consists of many objects that we use in our day-to-day lives.

“In a way, the piece references architecture—it’s a sculpture that wants to be a building that wants to be a landscape,” says Youds. “It’s all built out of sawhorses and tabletops, although the materials are all metal. The tables make a structure out of that, and then there is also a light component that are task lamps, like the kind you use on a desk. These have been programmed to talk to a computer through a string of code, which then photographically reads images, and, in turn, the lamps light up with different colours.”

Local artist Robert Youds is examining time in his new exhibit, For Everyone a Fountain (photo provided).

The idea of For Everyone a Fountain stems from Youds wanting to explore the idea of what consciousness is and how humans view the world around them.

“I’m interested in urbanism and how we live; I also wanted to explore consciousness and what it is, where it resides, and how we accumulate knowledge,” he says. “I also wanted to explore the kind of objects we collect as memorabilia and the way we look at both new and old buildings as a kind of measure of time.”

Youds hopes that viewers spend the time to take in the experience of his piece. He also says that he’d like people to question what it is that they value in their lives but don’t fully appreciate. He feels that the piece will allow people to reflect on themselves a bit.

“The piece invites a kind of experiential condition around it, with the allure of watching something change before your eyes. It also questions what we take advantage of in our society, such as things like cellphones as a form of communication, which some people arguably might say are extensions of ourselves,” says Youds. “So it sort of questions where that sense of self is, how artificial intelligence is changing how we understand consciousness.”

Youds says that the exhibit’s name has many meanings; one is a nod to a piece of 20th century modern art called The Fountain, which Youds describes as “a urinal [the artist] put in a gallery context… It changes the way we perceive everyday objects in the sense of art.”

Youds says that his exhibit is also an opportunity to think about time.

“The tables stacked are my idea of a measure of time,” he says. “I always tell people that no matter where you go, the first thing you do is always set up, and you usually do it in the simplest form, and that’s a desk and a lamp. I used these tabletops stacked on each other as a sort of measure of someone’s life: the number of times you move, change homes, that type of thing.”

For Everyone a Fountain
Until Saturday, December 16
Free, Open Space
openspace.ca

A previous version of this story said this exhibit was running at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; it’s at Open Space. We apologize for the mistake.

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