Gerald Pratley Lecture: Artist-Run Centres + XR Media: How Canadian Artists are Making Tech Accessible
The Gerald Pratley Award was established in 1991 in tribute to Gerald Pratley‘s (1923-2011) contribution to the advancement of Canadian film studies. The Gerald Pratley Lecture is presented by a graduate student undertaking innovative research in cinema & media studies that will contribute to the understanding of Canadian/Québec cinema both within this country and elsewhere.
The 2023 Pratley Lecture will be delivered by Caroline Klimek of York University. Klimek is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Cinema and Media Arts Department at York University. Her SSHRC-funded dissertation focuses on how Canadian cultural institutions are incorporating XR media by examining how film festivals, artist-run centres, and legacy institutions are including virtual and augmented reality into their mandates and how that affects their exhibition practices. She is currently a sessional instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Toronto Information School and at York University. She is published in the Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Shameless Magazine with three book chapters in forthcoming anthologies and two peer-reviewed journal articles to be released later in 2023.
"This presentation, which is drawn from my larger project called “Granting Gold: Funding and Exhibiting New Media Technologies at Canadian Cultural Institutions” explores the role of Canadian artist-run centres (ARCs) in responding to the emergence of the XR, or Extended Reality, industry, with a specific focus on Trinity Square Video (TSV) and Inter/Access in Toronto. ARCs serve as vital community centres for artists across Canada, providing opportunities for exhibitions and events, and facilitating workshops. However, their role in Canadian cultural heritage is often unnoticed or misunderstood. My research examines how TSV and Inter/Access have responded differently to the XR industry: TSV has concentrated on building infrastructure and democratizing technology for their community, whereas Inter/Access has supported emerging artists and marginalized communities through exhibitions and workshops. In the project, I have employed a mix-method approach, examining cultural policy, expanded cinema scholarship, and ethnographic research. I have conducted interviews and attended exhibitions at TSV and Inter/Access over several years, providing an intimate understanding of the factors that shape how these institutions respond to the needs of their artistic community. Case studies of virtual and augmented reality apps and exhibitions focus on experimenting with software, hardware, and content, highlighting the ARCs' willingness to embrace failure and build and promote their artists’ digital art skills while also addressing the barriers of access and questions of technological obsolescence. My work aims to draw attention to the important role that ARCs play in the Canadian art ecology and examine what larger cultural institutions can learn from community-run art organizations' approach to the XR industry."