March 2 – April 30, 2021
Curatorial Assistant: Jung-Ah Kim
Imagine you’re driving through the hot desert passing by the same landscape of trees. The sun is glaring through the window and your mind wanders off as your surroundings become more and more hazy. How do you know you’re seeing trees? Is it light that reflected off the trees, entered your eyes, and created the image in your brain? Could it be your psychological desire that materialized the trees?
Many depend so much on visual perception to interpret surroundings, and yet visual perception is fallible and deceptive. As much as we gain knowledge about the world from the visual, our knowledge of vision remains puzzling. Annie Briard’s solo exhibition Second Sight reflects on the problematics of perception by taking the viewer on a road trip through the high desert, where the seen eventually breaks apart and the limits between physical reality, head trips and visions from beyond become blurred. Joshua Tree is seen through disused military optics or prisms, responding to an ancient theory claiming that we see the world as a result of minuscule crystals within our eyes. As military optics frame perspectives towards specific ends, so too might the eye and its crystalline components. The exhibition presents a video installation alongside sculptural holograms and sound.
Second Sight is generously funded by the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund, Queen's University, with thanks to the Provost’s Advisory Committee for the Promotion of the Arts.
Vision and its affect drive my work. Using lens-based media, light and the moving image as starting points, I explore how visual perception shapes our interpretation of the world and of each other. Results become reflective surfaces for the viewer’s own vision of their natural surroundings and psyche through immersive video, interactive installation and simulated imagery.
I am interested in how perception paradigms differ within psychology, neuroscience and film theory, finding space for creative experimentation within these gaps and intersections. Our sensorial system—physically fallible and influenced by memory, mood, ideology – mediates what we know of our surrounding reality. Sometimes, the limits between our ideal and physical visions become blurred. How, then, does what I see compare to what you see? How does this perception animate our way of being in the world, of encountering wonder, of understanding and communing with one another?
My practice confronts our understanding of what we see by comparing phenomenological experience of the physical to that of the simulated. In order to reach these two poles, in turn, I regularly undertake extreme perceptual activities such as long-haul backpacking trips throughout the North American landscape, or sensory deprivation situations.
By complicating the seen through optical illusions, constructed imagery and explorable scenarios, I create viewing experiences that investigate the layers of perception. These experiences open up spaces to question the problematics of misperception and méconnaissance, advocating for communication systems and processes that are crucial to evolving the way humans relate to the world and each other within a spirit of love.
Annie Briard is a Canadian visual art and media artist whose work challenges how we make sense of the world through visual perception. Creating lens-based and light-focused works, she explores the intersections between perception paradigms in psychology, neuroscience and existentialism. Her moving images, media installations, expanded and print photography works have been presented in numerous solo exhibitions, including Second Sight at AC Institute (New York, 2019), Within the Eclipse at the Burrard Art Foundation (Vancouver, 2021), Staring at the Sun at Joyce Yahouda Gallery (Montreal, 2016), as well as group shows, festivals and fairs internationally, including at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Three Shadows Photography Centre (Beijing), the Lincoln Film Centre New York, Matadero Madrid, the Switzerland Architecture Museum, among many others. Recently, she presented large-scale public art projects for a number of commissions in Canada. Sourcing inspiration from the affectation of new and/or altered sights, she regularly undertakes art residencies, which have included working in New York, Los Angeles, Spain, Iceland, and others, as well as long-haul hikes across the North American back country. Annie Briard’s work is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the British Columbia Arts Council.
Briard holds a BFA from Concordia University and an MFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, where she currently teaches. In conjunction with her practice, she occasionally curates exhibitions and public programs in relation to her research interests.
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