Over the course of a decade, Annie Dunning has explored the limitsof an anthropocentric environment through projects which combine curiosity and playfulness. Her sculpture and installation often includes audio and kinetic elements, amplifying modes of productivity that can be found in the behaviours of other organisms. For Air Time, she crafted flutes to be worn by homing pigeons and recorded their in-flight performance. In the recent body of works entitled Sapsucker Sounds, Dunning reinterpreted the marks made by a woodpecker as audio-kinetic sculptures. At the core of her work is the search for a form of communication that is independent of language, a form or agency that is not merely our own.
Echo / Locations marks the gallery premiere of Dunning's latest work. The title of the exhibition is a reference to echolocation - a form of wayfinding that is practiced by both humans and animals. It allows one to navigate through their surroundings by parsing echoes for crucial information about the objects in their vicinity. Independent of vision, echolocating can help one to understand scale, distance and risk, while also being a useful tool to communicate across distances and between species.
Central to the exhibition is Cochlea, an audio installation that draws from the experience of listening "to the ocean" by holding a shell to one's ear. The spiral of the glass shell mirrors the structure of the inner ear from which the work borrows its name. Along the surrounding gallery walls we encounter Spectre, another work which references hidden forms of living architecture. These images were made through a natural process wherein a mushroom releases spores from its gills in an effort to reproduce. Seen as a swirling mass of microscopic marks, the images suggest a ghostly form frozen in a state of becoming. In a sense, the mushrooms are drawing their beginnings rather than marking their deaths. In Cavities, we encounter a series of bird-made marks, otherwise invisible to the human eye. With each of these new works, Dunning introduces a poetic shift in material and a fresh perspective on the hidden spaces and habits of other species.
Crystal Mowry, Senior Curator
Annie Dunning maintains a multidisciplinary practice, based in sculpture and installation. Her practice also includes mail art, collaboration, book works, video and sound work. Dunning holds a BFA from Mount Allison University, NB and an MFA from the University of Guelph. With support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council she has produced and shown work across Canada and abroad. She lives and works in Guelph.
The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph.
View Annie's conversation with KWAG's Senior Curator, Crystal Mowry here
IMAGE: Annie Dunning, detail from series Spectre, Giclée print. Courtesy of the artist. © 2016 Annie Dunning