Q&A with the artist
Exhibition runs September 12 to October 3rd
Gallery Hours: 12pm to 5 pm, Monday through Friday
Opening Reception on September 13 from 7 to 10 pm
Presentation by the artist at 8 pm
Olivia Chow: You talked about how your experience working in a cubicle really inspired the birth of this project. Can you tell us more?
Jeff Klassen: Actually I was working in an open concept office - no walls, just desks and monitors - but yeah, working in that environment definitely informed the project. Offices and office software offer a very specific way to produce, or be productive. I began the project by creating images within these restrictions. The work became about exploring these limitations, and how they might impact those who experience them.
OC: How did you come up with the exhibit title Work/Life?
JK: I associate the concept of work-life balance with managerial strategies of the 1980’s and 1990’s, which is also the time that personal computing entered the workplace. As computers moved from our work into our lives, the difference between the two became blurred. Activities like branding have become a personal pursuits, and social networking is now a professional undertaking. This technology has not only led us to personalized our work, but also corporatized our lives. The title Work/Life references a time when there was still a choice between the two.
OC: What is it about Clip Art that you are drawn to?
JK: Today everyone is an image producer. Everyone knows photoshop or can find an image online. To me, clip art represents this change - a moment when producing digital images first became incredibly easy and widely accessible. I’m drawn to clip art because it is commercial, functional, and un-pretentious. It’s the same thing I like about the Arial typeface. Arial isn’t a refined modernist creation, but it’s good enough. Clip art is provisional.
OC: How effective does Clip Art give language and meaning to its users?
JK: To find (and use) an image in a Clip art library, you first have to associate the image with its assigned keywords, and in the process internalize its assigned meaning. It’s a very tangible representation of the way language can work.
OC: How did you create your set of layered imageries?
JK: Instead of simply showing a collection of clip art, I used a process of collage to help interpret the images. I think collage can be used to deconstruct images much like poetry can be used to deconstruct language. The process is simple. A single keyword is searched in a clip art library (I used PowerPoint), then multiple images are selected from the results and inserted at their default size and position. An image is successful when it still looks like a single piece of clip art, yet exhibits meaning beyond that of it’s keywords.
OC: I heard that there is a special presentation at the reception, what can we expect?
JK: A PowerPoint presentation of course!