For Edwin Janzen, the remote control isn't a handy gizmo that rules the entertainment centre, has an amazing knack for getting lost or calls to mind the Larry Sanders "no flipping" command. Rather it's "a murky place of hair and filth," says the Montreal-based artist/photographer, "almost a miniature ecosystem in its own right." In Remotes, opening today at ViewPoint Gallery, Janzen zooms in on various handheld household remotes to reveal what is usually sight-unseen.
By magnifying the controllers using a flatbed scanner, Janzen exposes the natural limits of human sensation. "We occupy a very narrow sensory range," he explains. "We cannot see infrared or ultraviolet light, or hear sounds that are too high or two low. Though we can sometimes build machines to help us, we cannot ourselves perceive objects that are enormously huge or infinitesimally small. We are stuck in the middle, and everything else in the universe is beyond our perception."
As he will doubtless describe in his artist talk Sunday afternoon, during a few years of interest in this project, Janzen collected about 50 handsets for old TVs, VCRs and DVD players. "To my mind, the sleek design of these objects is deeply rooted in military-inspired design aesthetics," he says. "I use a relatively small sensory shift to completely undermine the allure of these technologies."
Edwin Janzen: Remotes
April 7-May 1
Artist talk Sunday, April 10, 2pm
ViewPoint Gallery, 1272 Barrington Street