MFA student presents mixed media collection about the perception of light

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Photo courtesy of Emiliano Sepulveda.
Photo courtesy of Emiliano Sepulveda.
Photo courtesy of Emiliano Sepulveda.

Directed out the window following the light, the current exhibition at the School for the Contemporary Arts office, is an installation of mixed media assemblages by Emiliano Sepulveda, a first-year MFA student. The exhibition is based around the phenomenological perception of light, and is composed of elements such as photographs, contrast filters, mirrors, and hand-drawn text. Through the use of reflective surfaces and obliquely placed 4×6” photos, the installation creates a disorienting sensation within the context of the office space.

The Peak: In your artist statement for the exhibition, could you elaborate on your description of “the built environment as an active agent in creating perception?”

Emiliano Sepulveda: What we perceive is influenced by what we expect to perceive when we know we’re going to encounter a particular thing around a corner, what we actually perceive, what we think we perceive, and what we remember perceiving. It’s all constantly in flux and full of gaps.

P: Within the context of Woodward’s as an institutional space, how do you see your work altering the way in which the built environment of the office creates perception?

ES: It is easy to focus on how institutional spaces are oppressive, but I am more interested in trying to carve a nurturing space out of that, something that is more generous. A couple people have mentioned to me that they saw the piece working very strongly as institutional critique, which was heartening because it seems to me that there is a potential for creating a criticism of a space that leaves room for other experiences.

P: Because your work involves light, how would you describe the light of Vancouver?

ES: The light in Vancouver is definitely a very particular thing. It has its own personality and idiosyncrasies. It lends this soft focus to everything, even in the summer. All the glass condos downtown interact with it in a very imagistic way that turns so many things into a picture.

P: Your work incorporates material elements such as pink cord and foil emergency blankets that call to mind outdoor survival, or at least outdoor preparedness. Are you using these materials in reference to their intended purpose?

ES: The safety materials have a connection to well being, and maintaining health, and often materials that have this emergency or safety purpose also have a certain relationship to light. In the case of the emergency blanket, it literally reflects infrared light from your own body back at you to keep you warm. The common pink of the cord and the filters is something I find really beautiful. In my drawings I tend to only draw with black or magenta.

P: What qualities do you look for in the photos to include them within your work?

ES: I look at what sort of relationship to light they represent, for example, the visible flashes of light and light leaks. These are moments where the light does not behave as to how we intend it and becomes this sticky elemental and untamable power that resists our desire to order it. I like these photographs because they resist being images, which means functioning as narratives and they function more as objects. This is something I have been thinking about for a long time: how a photograph can exist as sculpture.

The SCA Office (GCA 2860) is located on the second floor of SFU Woodward’s. The current exhibition is open to the public during office hours until April 17.