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posted on 10.30.09

Kimsooja, Mandala: Zone of Zero, 2003

The Power Plant: Universal Code

Curated by Gregory Burke, Director, The Power Plant.



I visited this exhibition twice during August of ’09, spending around 2 hrs each time. I discovered the show by chance as I was wondering through Queens Quay in Toronto on this particular weekend in August.  I hadn’t been to the Power Plant in a while, and I had a pleasant surprise upon entering the venue. Out of the 23 artists involved, there were three that stood out because of their unique use of sound, whether deconstructed, rhythmic or juxtaposed.

The exhibition ‘Universal Code’ is timed to coincide with the International Year of Astronomy, and presented responses from a broad range of contemporary artists to cosmology and ideas of the universal in our current information age, a time of significant scientific and technological development as well as rampant globalization. Works in the exhibition draw and reflect on scientific discoveries related to the universe and the nature of life, from the mapping of intergalactic space, through to research into the microcosmic world of DNA coding. However, the exhibition is not purely a celebration of scientific and technological advance. While many artists seek to engage the viewer in the awe and enigma of concepts of the universe, they are also concerned with shifts in the geo-political order brought on by the digital revolution, coupled with unresolved tensions that exist between differing belief systems.[1]

When I was younger I remember being fascinated with astronomy, obsessed with NASA and reading way too much science fiction. I was fascinated by this show because the artists involved chose to reflect on both the cosmological and ideas of the universal in such creative and myriad ways.


Tania Mouraud ‘La Fabrique, 2006’




This is a site that contains interviews with the artist.

On first encountering this multi-media installation, I was struck by the cacophonous sound and visceral images presented. The video was shot on location in Kerala, India at a carpet-weaving facility, and the images hone in on the workers’ faces and/or upper torso as they methodically work at their looms.  The clamorous, clattering and ultimately rhythmic soundtrack accompanies the repetitive activity of weaving, as the sounds from each loom are layered upon each other. The camera remained unmoving on the agitating workers: however, every few moments the weaver would look directly at the camera forcing the viewer to confront the particular, instead of the general humanity that we in the west far too easily look over. Mouraud is interested in the tension that exists between the individual and ideas of connectedness within humanity.  


Kimsooja ‘Mandala: Zone of Zero, 2003’

I loved this installation. The room is illuminated by three sculptural objects that are shaped like colourful, round jukeboxes reminiscent of Tibetan Mandalas, and from the speakers in each ‘jukebox’ emanated Tibetan, Islamic and Gregorian chants respectively. The Tibetan Mandala is a symbol for the design of the universe. I had the sense that Kimsooja was displaying or pursuing ideas related to the general human experience that explores human diversity (highlighted by the music of three spiritual traditions) that is also contained within a sense of the universal.

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