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Dissemination as an Integral Component of the Creative Cycle

August 04, 2014

For many artists, a gallery exhibit is the logical choice for displaying work. Artist Marlene MacCallum doesn’t feel that way.
“I have always had an uneasy relationship with the conventional forms of display such as galleries, museums and exhibitions,” said Ms. MacCallum, a visual arts professor at Grenfell Campus. “My work is very intimate and interactive in nature and requires a context where the viewer is able to handle the work and take time to read and view it. The formal nature of galleries/museums often presents a challenge to allowing access to the viewers.”
For two decades, Ms. MacCallum has been working with photogravure, a photo-mechanical process whereby a copper plate is coated with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue which had been exposed to a film positive, and then etched, resulting in a high quality intaglio print that produces the detail and continuous tones of a photograph. After that time, she was ready to challenge herself to explore new forms of print production.
 Ms. MacCallum embarked on a research project that considered the effect of distribution systems as well as the nature of the audience’s interaction when generating the work.
“We are working to identify ways in which artists can gain more creative control of the audience interaction with their artwork,” she said. “The creative cycle of a visual artist is generally assumed to consist of the research, development and production of art objects. Once the work leaves the studio, the artist is no longer involved and their work comes under the control of the display and distribution system. This removes the artist from the crucial stage where the public interacts with the work. More and more, contemporary artists are challenging this separation between production and dissemination.”
The expanded options for distribution of artists’ production are particularly important for artists living in remote locations where there is no easy or immediate access to conventional venues, she said.
In order to explore the impact of different methods of production, Ms. MacCallum has created a series of book works.
The first project was inspired by the experience of living in Corner Brook’s Townsite. Between 1924 and 1934, the Bowater pulp and paper mill built 150 homes to house the mill’s management and skilled labourers. MacCallum lives in one of these houses and has photographed several such houses.
This collaborative research project is funded by Social Science and Humanities Research Council and co-applicants are Grenfell faculty David Morrish and Pierre LeBlanc, and Clifton Meador of Columbia College Chicago.


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