Wylie: From novelty to wonder

Whether it's hot or drizzling, escape to the Kelowna Art Gallery for a 3-D art show.

Stephen Foster

What could be more fun on a hot summer day than coming to visit a cool and darkened art gallery, putting on a pair of 3-D glasses, and then gasping as the images in the art suddenly pop into three dimensions, looming outward from the walls.

Once a visitor to Stephen Foster’s current solo show at the Kelowna Art Gallery has finished with this novelty aspect, however, the thinking and questioning will likely begin.

To backtrack, Kelowna-based artist Stephen Foster found some small plastic figures for sale online that made him think of 19th-century photographer Edward Curtis and his work documenting North American First Nations. Moving on from earlier work in which Foster used himself as a model, he began to work in the studio setting up shots of the small figurines.

Intriguingly, because the toys have been photographed with such detail, and then the images enlarged, some of them approach being life-sized, and we tend to read these as human figures, wearing lots of weird make-up, rather than tiny hand-painted plastic figurines.

Foster used a specialized stereoscopic technique to digitally photograph the toys and spent many hours with Photoshop to achieve his desired effects. The metaphor of the 3-D is for a more fully constituted way of seeing, especially when viewing members of a culture other than our own.

Plus, 3-D makes reference to popular culture, grabbing from that context, and bringing those references into the gallery setting.

The works are housed in commercially produced, framed back-lit lightboxes, as you see in hallways at airports, hotels, etc., generally containing advertising. This is another co-option from popular culture on Foster’s part, aping the look of commercial advertising hardware, but removing it from its normal place.

Visitors are provided with 3-D glasses in the exhibition, and will be amazed at how the foregrounds of the works seem to move out into their own physical space. Foster’s digital sleight of hand is admirable, for example in one piece, seamlessly merging single shots of the same toy to create a party on horseback, heading out over some real sand in his studio, into the Okanagan hills, that he has digitally put in place in the background.

As a person of combined European and First Nations descent, Foster is seeking a multiplicity of views in his work, reflecting the complications implicit in his own situation, and for that of many other people.

Although he grew up in British Columbia, Foster received his BFA and MFA from York University in Toronto. He has lived in Kelowna since the year 2000, and teaches digital media at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. He has exhibited widely, both still images and videos, across Canada and internationally.

Stephen Foster: Re-Mediating Curtis: Toy Portraits is at the Kelowna Art Gallery until Sept. 29.

Just Posted

Traffic ahead for commuters driving into Kelowna

A car accident has left one lane open for Northbound drivers

Rockets prepare for three-game series against Prince George

The Kelowna Rockets will be looking to Kyle Topping during the series

Okanagan rugby community raises funds for cancer services

The first ever fundraiser held on Sunday raised $14,000

Kelowna to be home of green self storage facility

The building will be the first of its kind in North America

One night raises more than $100,000 for Kelowna charity

Third Space Life Charity’s gala raised more than $120,000 for mental health programs in Kelowna

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

Okanagan College student population climbs

Enrolment up nearly 14 per cent

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

Coldstream supports Okanagan College Campus residence project

Project would see a 100-bed residence on the Vernon campus in Coldstream

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Okanagan show supports youth mental health, suicide prevention

Robb Nash will be performing Oct. 2 and 3 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre

Most Read