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Contemporary Video Installation Features Public Internet Images of the ROM
Guillaume Cailleau, Creative Commons, 2010.

TORONTO.- Online social media, photography and their impact on one’s perception of reality come together in the new site-specific video-sculpture Creative Commons, presented by the Institute for Contemporary Culture (ICC) at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), as part of this year’s Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival. Berlin-based artist and filmmaker Guillaume Cailleau uses 18 TV monitors to create a kinetic collage of images of the ROM that were drawn from thousands of free-to-use photographs available on the Internet. Creative Commons will be on display free of charge in the ROM’s Spirit House in the Lee-Chin Crystal from May 1 to 31, 2010.

The installation is a video-sculpture constructed with approximately 18 television monitors, referencing the shape of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Each monitor shows a different video loop lasting 3 to 5 minutes. Each loop consists of free-to-use photographs of the ROM downloaded from the Internet, while each photo lasts 2 frames of the loop. Each monitor focuses on a different topic: exterior of the building, the interior, architecture, collections and more. All loops play simultaneously in a rather frenetic rhythm, creating on first view an overwhelming flow of pictures. After longer consideration, the flow is recognized as an organized and familiar view of the immediate surroundings: the ROM.

“Creative Commons examines an aspect of the hot-button topic of social media, which is viewed as an exciting opportunity by some people, and a frightening prospect by others. The ICC exists to encourage public conversations on thought-provoking cultural issues around the world, and this installation undoubtedly fits into this equation,” said Francisco Alvarez, Managing Director, ICC.

The installation reflects the artist’s exploration of websites that are centred on the sharing of photographic media, and their effect on the contemporary perception of photography. In researching this work, Cailleau performed a simple search on flickr, and found some 5,000 pictures of the ROM filed under the Creative Commons Licence, which means that one is free to share, copy, distribute and transmit them. Many of these images are similar but none are identical. By displaying these public-private photos in a public setting, they again become the object of another multi-personal private experience, open for further interpretation and may ultimately become the object of yet another set of images posted on the Internet.

In accordance with the Creative Commons License, a list of all the known authors of pictures used will be included. The artist’s aim is not only to question the notion of authorship, but also to potentially create an interesting situation where some visitors might find their name (login name) and may or may not recognize their own pictures displayed on the monitor. Far from being a collective work of art, this piece speaks of the multi-personal experience recontextualized by the artist, and finally becomes public.

Royal Ontario Museum | Institute for Contemporary Culture (ICC) | "Creative Commons" | Francisco Alvarez |

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