Lively Objects Artworks

Myles Constable's picture

Lively Objects brings together artworks that vibrate with mechanical, digital, and magical forces. Installations hidden throughout the Museum’s history galleries awaken our fascination with objects that come to life. The following works will on display through October 12, 2015.


Phone Safe 2 (2015) by Garnet Hertz

Phone Safe 2 is a custom-built safety deposit box that invites people to publicly and voluntarily deposit mobile phones for a set period of time. In doing so, they commit to a short separation from their ubiquitous digital companions.


Topographic Table (2013) by Germaine Koh

Topographic Table recreates the contours of the mountains north of Vancouver. Sensors and Internet-connected electronics embedded in the table’s frame cause it to tremble in response to nearby vibrations and news about earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest. This piece of furniture models the geology and the psychic condition of living near the Cascadia fault line.


Silent Spring (2008) by Wendy Coburn

Silent Spring is a bronze replica of a pesticide sprayer that Coburn found in her neighbourhood. The artist has etched the names of loved ones on the sprayer – a found object re-cast as weapon, monument, and talisman. The sculpture takes its name from Rachel Carson’s 1962 text Silent Spring, which warned of the dangers of synthetic pesticides.


Fable for Tomorrow (2008) by Wendy Coburn

Silhouettes of insects swarm over the imploring bodies of two Victorian ceramic babies. This poignant work by Wendy Coburn is named Fable For Tomorrow after the first chapter of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring – an allegory describing a rural village that falls prey to a strange silence as white dust covers the countryside.


Phantom House (2010) by Judith Doyle / Technical assistance: Ian Murray

After the sudden death of her mother and father, Judith Doyle began building models of her family home in game engines and virtual environments. Phantom House is a ghostly suburban dwelling, constructed in SecondLife. The luminous structure is suspended somewhere between real and virtual, remembered and forgotten, inhabited and abandoned.


Splish Splash One (1974) by Norman White

This prototype for a large light mural commissioned for the foyer of CBC’s Vancouver offices simulates raindrops falling on the surface of a pond. It is an early example of an artistic exploration of the complex effects that emerge from the simple lifelike system of a cellular automaton – a light/logic grid in which each cell is programmed to switch on or off in relation to its neighbours.


Go Go Gloves (2005) by Kate Hartman

Put these gloves on and, like a digital puppeteer, you will be able to control the movement of the dancers on screen. With images drawn from 1960s McCall Needlework & Crafts magazine, Go-Go Gloves pays homage to the history of women’s “handiwork” and draws attention to the ways in which the female body is manipulated through fashion.


End of Empire (2011) by Simone Jones and Lance Winn

Andy Warhol’s 1964 film Empire is a single shot of the Empire State Building that lasts eight hours and five minutes. In End of Empire Simone Jones and Lance Winn revisit this iconic film post-9/11 and the 2008 financial collapse. A custom-built machine projects a video image of the Empire State Building onto the gallery wall, eventually revealing its disappearance from the Manhattan skyline with an eerie, mechanical neutrality.

Device for the Elimination of Wonder (2012-) by Steve Daniels

This simple kinetic system is obsessed with quantifying its environment. A metallic bob takes measurements, which the device renders in grey scale, continuously dropping pages of data to the floor below. This single-minded machine inhabits the gallery with a useless intensity.


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