I Caught it at The Movies

Have you walked out of a pandemic movie lately with the hair raised on the back of your neck? Elaine Whittaker’s, I Caught it at The Movies, is a mixed media installation of digital images, painting and live bacteria that blurs the boundaries between what is real and what is manufactured, what is animate and what is inanimate.

Elaine Whittaker: Movie - Infection (1)

Elaine Whittaker: Movie – Infection (1)

Have you walked out of a pandemic movie lately with the hair raised on the back of your neck? Not because of the throes of flesh eating zombies, but because the person who sat beside you was coughing the whole time? We are surrounded by microbes, composed of microbes and terrified of them. We live in a porous world in porous bodies. The possibility of being breached, infected and losing body integrity is always present. I Caught it at The Movies is a mixed media installation of digital images, painting and live bacteria that blurs the boundaries between what is real and what is manufactured, what is animate and what is inanimate. It brings together painted visualizations of ‘real’ microbes and diseases and digital photo stills of terrified individuals as found in the disease and pandemic movies of Contagion, 28 Days Later, Outbreak, Resident Evil, Andromeda Strain, Infection and others. These are overlaid with live cultured halobacteria that has crystallized. This installation asks viewers to explore their reactions and prejudices on living in a world that is shared with microbes. Ultimately, the images challenge viewers’ perceptions about their bodies, a site that has become trespassed, tainted, and contaminated by a popular culture that escalates social anxiety and terror of microbes by artificially creating a sense of bioparanoia.

Elaine Whitaker: Painted Microbes-Rabies
Elaine Whittaker: Painted Microbes-West Nile Virus
Elaine Whittaker: Painted Microbes-Meningitus
Elaine Whittaker: Painted Micorbes-Ebola
Elaine Whittaker: Painted Microbes-Cryptosporidium
Elaine Whittaker: Movie-Infection (2)
Elaine Whittaker: Movie-Contagion (3)
Elaine Whittaker: Movie-Resident Evil (1)
Elaine Whittaker: Movie-Andromeda Strain
Elaine Whittaker: Movie-Contagion (1)
Elaine Whittaker: Movie-Contagion (2)
Elaine Whittaker: Movie-Resident Evil (2)
Elaine Whittaker: Movie-28 Days Later

 

Elaine Whittaker: I Caught it at The Movies (installation)

Elaine Whittaker: I Caught it at The Movies (installation)

Elaine Whittaker: I Caught it at The Movies (installation left)

Elaine Whittaker: I Caught it at The Movies (installation left)

Elaine Whittaker: I Caught it at The Movies (installation middle)

Elaine Whittaker: I Caught it at The Movies (installation middle)

Elaine Whittaker: I Caught it at The Movies (Installation right)

Elaine Whittaker: I Caught it at The Movies (Installation right)

I Caught it at The Movies was the main installation within the fuller exhibit Ambient Plagues.

Artist Statement

As a Toronto-based sculpture and installation artist, my multidisciplinary works consider biology as contemporary art practice. I explore the biological forces that make us human, from the foundational processes and materials needed to form an organism, to exploring the microscopic world of cellular ecologies. My installations incorporate a range of diverse materials: from wax, paint, sound work, and photo-based imagery, to wire, mosquitoes, salt crystals, and live microorganisms.

Radical cultural critic Mike Davis contends that panic and an ecology of fear increasingly defines modern society. My artworks examine the cultural and social ecologies we inhabit as being transformed in unexpected, and often, uncontrollable ways. These transformations are often viewed through the lens of biology, the aesthetics of disaster, and the psychology of trepidation. It is an aesthetic in which art, science, medicine, and the environment overlap.

www.etwhittaker.com

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