EXPLORING THE HEART OF NEW MEDIA

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By Barry Hertz

Jennifer Myers nearly lost her sense of creativity two years ago. It took a Ryerson program she had never heard of to help her imagine again.

“I lost my best friend two years ago and I was going through a lot of grief, so it was a huge struggle to rise out of that angst and focus on my creativity and work,” Myers says. “But eventually through my work, I realized that you can reclaim your art through the grieving process. It’s about the journey you have to go through to reclaim it.”

Myers, a fourth-year new media student, has turned her emotional journey into one of the open installations being highlighted in this month’s Fuse exhibition, the showcase for the School of Image Arts’ new media graduating class. The exhibition is the first of its kind for Ryerson, finally giving new media students an opportunity to share their work with both the public and local media.

Myers, along with other new media students, is looking forward to finally showcasing her project, Taxidermy and Other Simple Things, even though four years ago she had no clue what new media actually was. “I came to Ryerson in 2001 for a diploma in arts, but I was interested in photography at the time and didn’t even know new media existed,” says Myers, who also balances class with graphic arts work on independent films and television.

“When I found out about the department and the digital revolution, I just fell into it.” Despite the popularity of the so-called digital revolution, Ryerson’s film and photography departments still get most of the school’s attention.

The new media department usually attributes its lack of notice to the fact that people still wonder “What the hell is new media?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple, as the program encompasses everything that uses multimedia, digitial media, computer technology, theory and advertising.

Even though Myers has done some work outside of Ryerson, such as designing bumper ads and titles for the Cinefranco festival, being featured in a new media exhibit is a new opportunity for her and her colleagues. “This is the first instalment of what will become an annual public presentation,” says Fuse representative Melissa Gullo, who adds that this year, for the fist time ever, the new media program will receive curators to guide viewers through the exhibitions, held at the School of Image Arts.

“This means that student work will be exhibited in a fluid space, complete with techniques to lead viewers through the building.”

Gullo notes that works being showcased at Fuse range from experimental audio and visual sculptures to full-on installations — specially designed rooms that combine video, music and audio to create a certain emotional reaction or theme. Myers’s project is a multi-disciplinary installation, which she hopes shines a light on several different media.

“When you enter the room, you get a feel for the elements that you have to discover on your own; it’s like stepping into a character’s own unique world,” says Myers, who combines elements of photography, video and art direction creating a sense of grief mixed with spirituality.

While other students are eager to exhibit their work for the first time, the opportunity is bittersweet for Myers. “I’m not sure if that many people are as involved in their pieces as me,” Myers says. “I wrote the story for over two years, just creating the story and creating the vision.”

And despite her initial lack of awareness for new media, Myers is proud to be a part of what students call the changing face for the arts. “Before, we just had a normal end-of-year show across the whole school, but didn’t have the chance to have more space or special consideration that were taken into account with all the other streams,” says Myers, who also plans to start her own company.

“This allows us to bring so much more awareness to both our program and specific pieces. We cross a lot of boundaries.” Fuse runs March 23 – 25 at the School of Image Arts, 122 Bond Street.

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