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  • Exhibition
  • Visual Arts

Trailing by Alia Shahab and Michel Gignac

  • Past exhibition


March 2 - May 27, 2023

Installation of the Trailing exhibit.

A dense forest of fiber optic cables dangle from a canopy of wooden hexagons suspended ten feet in the air. Viewers/participants are invited to wander through the sculpture and immerse themselves in a warm aqua green light that is emitted from the strands as they move. Momentarily illuminating their path, the light flickers and fades in their wake. The twinkling light references the wondrous possibilities of bioluminescent phytoplankton. It has also evoked ideas around time, with a present that’s illuminated, a past that’s quickly fading, and a future yet to come into light.  

Opening reception for Trailing.

Each fiber optic strand is connected to a mechanical trigger that signals a tiny microcontroller to turn on its light emitter. The tessellation of hexagons above can be reconfigured to respond to the space the piece occupies.  
The concept for Trailing emerged in 2019, when the artists were commissioned by the City of Calgary’s Public Art Program to create a light-based installation. They exhibited an early edition of work as part of Contemporary Calgary’s inaugural group show “Planetary.” Trailing was later exhibited at cSpace King Edward in Calgary in 2021. That year, the duo received a grant from Canada Council for the Arts to make improvements to the durability and transportation of the work.  
This immersive sculpture endured the difficult beginnings of emerging in an existence where touch and interaction were prohibited by the Covid-19 pandemic. Shahab and Gignac are very excited to now have Trailing on exhibition at the Yukon Arts Centre. 

“As you walk through it, it’s kind of almost the opposite of a shadow. Where it’s actually creating a trail of light instead of a trail of an absence of light.”

Shahab and Gignac met in 2010 at the Alberta University of Art (formerly the Alberta College of Art & Design) in an Interactive Objects class. There, they developed an interest for art that encouraged physical participation. Beyond their collaboration on Trailing, they have created an interactive artwork called Ghost Carwash at Wreck City Collective’s “Demo Tape” in Calgary in 2015, and carved several snow sculptures together over the last 5 years. 
Shahab and Gignac continue their cross-provincial/territorial collaboration, with Michel living in Whitehorse, Yukon and Alia recently relocating from Calgary, Alberta to Crawford Bay, British Columbia.  

Read interview with Michel Gignac.

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