New media students unite the worlds of fine art and technology at META2017

From live tattoo inkings to vinyl record sleeves, a collection of selected new media artworks were accompanied by the wide smiles and excited chatter of some of Ryerson’s most talented artists. Taking place at Arta Gallery was this year’s annual new media art exhibit showcasing the talent of fourth-year new media students, META2017.

The Chronicles of Kanye by Gianluca Filipetti.

The annual META exhibition is more than an opportunity for young new media artists to break into the industry. For many, it is also a year-long learning experience to celebrate the end of the journey as new media students. Featured artist Fion Liu says, “[META] is very important to me as an artist because as a first-year student I always knew that META is my end goal in university.”

Conscious Content by Blaze Box.

All submitted artworks must first be approved by a panel of judges in order to take part in the show. “Making artwork and hoping to get in is challenging enough that it changes who you are as a person and changes your perception of what art is,” says Erik Babinski, another featured artist. For Babinski, getting into META has been a learning experience that made his fourth year fulfilling. As a new media art show, here are some of META’s featured installations that fuse fine art with technology.

LUCID—Aaron Labbe

Images Courtesy of Aaron Labbe,

With its vibrant glow, it was impossible to ignore Aaron Labbe’s immersive installation. Awarded for Best Code Based Piece at the 2017 The TARA Awards, LUCID brings its participants to a therapeutic and “dream-like” sensory experience. Inspired by his own personal battles, Labbe says, “There was a point in my life where a ‘lucid’ state of mind was just not at all within reach, day by day I would be at the extremities of mood meanwhile losing touch with reality entirely. It was the moment when I came back to reality that I truly valued what the feeling of lucidity is truly worth.” Hoping to provide others with that feeling of euphoria, Labbe aimed to replicate the relief he felt when coming back to “a lucid state of mind.”

Last Will & Testament Colouring Book (First Edition)—Fion Liu

Artist Fion Liu’s tattoo designs can be viewed on Instagram @sadstab.

On the other end of the gallery, Fion Liu’s Last Will and Testament Colouring Book (First Edition) captivated spectators as she performed live stick-and-poke tattoos. The project featured an entire wall of her tattoo designs, a colouring book for guests to draw in and the artist herself performing stencil tattoos on various volunteers. Recently winning a TARA for Best New Media Thesis Production, Liu says, “My last will—my wish—is to spread my art to everyone.” By giving out stick-and-poke tattoos, face stencil tattoos and stickers at META, Liu says, “Everyone can have a solid memory of me with my drawings.”

Discography—Erik Babinski

The complete collection of covers for Discography can be viewed here.

Erik Babinski’s Discography features a collection of album covers—but with a catch. None of the artists actually exist. The new media artist created convincing album covers for his conceptualized artists. Beyond Babinski’s designs, the piece contains an underlying message about superficiality in a digital era. “I wanted to illustrate how easy it is to pretend to be someone that you’re not. I could make an Instagram and pretend to be a completely different person that I am and only a very small amount of people would realize that I was faking it,” Babinski says.

Images courtesy of Jodie Quach.

The Struggles of a Retail Worker —Jodie Quach

For those who have worked in retail, The Struggles of A Retail Worker by Jodie Quach will hit home. This comic series depicts the common horrors that are experienced by those who work in the retail industry. The book is a compilation of brightly illustrated situations that workers often experience. Hoping to change the mindsets towards those working in retail, Quach’s piece also includes an installation that allows participants to step into the shoes of a retail worker.  

Escape Kit—Justice Walz

Justice Walz’s Escape Kit can be viewed here.

With its large eye-catching display, Justice Walz’s Escape Kit could not be missed. Featuring four escape kits, “each piece is a curated kit for when you feel anxious, you can grab and go and have a set of coherent directions and just simplicity that kind of contrasts with what you’re feeling”, says Walz. Stemming from her own personal struggles, Escape Kit revolves around the idea of escaping from the anxieties that come from everyday life.

Fading Rose of Tomorrow—Mcallister Zeller-Newman

Fading Rose of Tomorrow – Mcallister Zeller-Newman

With Mcallister Zeller-Newman’s Fading Rose of Tomorrow, participants step into a fully immersive installation that combines both traditional art with machinery. The inner walls of the installation rotate around the participant for a short period. “The idea of the piece is to break the rules of [viewing] paintings,” Zeller-Newman says. “Instead of the audience having control over how long they see the piece, or how they see the piece, I am removing that away from them by making a machine tell them how long they are going to see the piece.”

With Kathleen Pirrie Adams as the faculty supervisor, META was put together with a team of curators consisting of Liat Algranti, Raphael Angoluan, Mandy Chan, Joelle Dell’Erede, Jack Hsu, Caylee Kalisky, Elyse Langer, Andrew Soares, Lulu Tanenbaum and Stanley Tsai.