"Shiver" Links to Reviews

Unsettling Blood – by Glendon Mellow

Symbiartic – Scientific American Blog October 31, 2014

Fine artist Elaine Whittaker is challenging us to see ourselves through the eyes of one of humanity’s greatest killers. Take a close look. The Swarm, a work made up of encaustic and over 1500 mosquitoes shipped from bug zappers in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, is meant to unsettle. Whittaker says, “If you stand long enough and contemplate the work, do not be surprised if you start to feel a sting on your skin. Remember how you felt the need to slap the spot and had to look down. Recall the horror in that moment of slapping: there, on your skin, a squished mosquito in a sea of your own blood.” Is it a revenge scenario against the little beasts? Can the mosquitoes be seen as mere vials for our blood? The Swarm is part of a tremendously intriguing show on now at the Science Gallery in Dublin, Blood: Not for the Faint Hearted. The show, on now through 25 January 2015 contains 25 works by different fine artists is fascinating right down to the curators.

Glendon Mellow is a fine artist, illustrator and tattoo designer working in oil and digital media based in Toronto, Canada. He tweets@FlyingTrilobite and is on Instagram. You can see Glendon's work-in-progress at The Flying Trilobite blog and portfolio at www.glendonmellow.com. Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

link to article in Scientific American: Symbiartic or download pdf here

Ambient Plagues Unleashed–By Glendon Mellow

Scientific American Blog - September 12, 2013

Ambient Plagues have been unleashed upon my fair city of Toronto by Elaine Whittaker at the Redhead Gallery.

The show opened September 4th, with the reception tomorrow, Friday the 13th if you’re inclined to mix superstitious luck with scientific microbial nightmares.

Whittaker is a sculptor, encaustic painter and mixed media installation artist here in Toronto, and one of the preeminent sciartists in the fine art scene.

About the show, from the Redhead Gallery exhibition listing:

Have you walked out of a pandemic movie lately with the hair raised on the back of your neck? Not because of the throes of flesh eating zombies but because the guy who sat beside you was coughing the whole time? We are surrounded by microbes, are composed of microbes, and we are terrified of them. We live in a porous world, in porous bodies.

Through sculpture, photography, microscopy, and live bacteria, the artworks blur the boundaries between what is real and what is manufactured, what is animate and what is inanimate. Ultimately, they challenge viewers’ perceptions about their bodies, a site that has become trespassed, tainted, and contaminated by a popular culture that escalates social anxiety and terror of microbes, by artificially creating a sense of bioparanoia.

"Bioparanoia". I like that.

Bioart is the future, people! Go see this show and witness a fine art movement at its roots...


gordongroup is proud to sponsor visual artist Elaine Whittaker

Ottawa, May 23, 2012.

gordongroup is proud to sponsor visual artist Elaine Whittaker and her new installation, entitled Cc: me, at The Red Head Gallery in Toronto. Looking through the lens of biology, and using live bacteria, insects, wax and petri dishes, Whittaker examines the aesthetics of social and cultural disaster and the psychology of trepidation.

Whittaker infuses her passion for biology into contemporary art practice and this new installation speaks volumes about her craft and ingenuity. Running from May 23 to June 16, the installation includes drawings, live bacteria and sound together with the use of recycled facsimile thermal transfer carbon rolls, Bioart, wax boards, sheets of mylar and petri dishes. This graphic use of the carbon rolls of yesterday is complemented by sound and poetry.

For several years gordongroup has worked in partnership with Whittaker to create marketing and promotional pieces for her installations. For Cc: me, we designed a three-fold brochure and invitation, which were inspired by her use of recycled and biological materials. We used language, typography and creativity to communicate her newest work and entice her audience. It was important for us to make use of the facsimile and choose typography that depicted Whittaker’s transfer of carbon paper documents into artwork. We then pulled colours from the live bacteria in the petri dishes to complement the overall look and feel of this installation.

Cc: me can be seen and experienced at the Red Head Gallery from May 23 to June 16, 2012. Whittaker will showcase her work at the opening reception for Subtle Technologies Festival on Thursday, May 24 from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. And the official Cc: me opening night reception—Friday, June 1 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.—will also feature ambient sound works by Tom Auger and poetry readings by Jim Johnstone, Julie Roorda, Ruth Roach Pierson and Larry Sulky.

The Red Head Gallery is located at 401 Richmond Street West, Suite 115, Toronto, ON M5V 3A8, Tel.: 416-504-5654.

gordongroup marketing & communications

334 Churchill Ave. N.

Ottawa, ON K1Z 5B9



Blog by Roberta Buiani for Subtle Technologies

May 25th, 2012

…and so it begins, a steamy evening in Toronto, at The Read Head gallery, the remotest space at the back of the 401 Richmond Street building…

CC: me by Elaine Whittaker borrows the title from the pre-computer fax machine nomenclature “Carbon Copy” where carbon is also one of the materials featured in this mixed media installation. In this work, carbon is interspersed and mixed with live bacteria in a way that reminds us of how technology and biology come to intersperse in our body by means of signs (drawings), words (poetry) and sound. Carbon comes from the chemical mixture contained in the thermal transfer rolls of our old fax machines, which the artist collected over a span of 10 years; the colorful (pink) colonies of live bacteria originate from Halobacterium sp. NRC-1, a non-pathogenic bacterium living in a high salt environment, sealed in petri dishes. Both carbon and bacteria are disseminated in a seemingly volatile, inscrutable and rather infectious way, the former thanks to the fax machine, the second through division, multiplication and proliferation.

Carbon and bacteria are linked in a variety of ways. Our bodies are made of carbon and bacteria (materially, since they are both part of our metabolism), as well as of technology and biology (we use them to communicate with each other and to the outside world). Both carbon and bacteria are in their own way means of communication. In order to accentuate the coexistence of carbon and bacteria, technology and biology, Whittaker has manipulated used thermal rolls from the Toronto Environmental Alliance, the organization she works for.

Old fax imprints of environmental political campaigns and useless commercial messaging are transferred onto a variety of supports, from wax boards, to sheets of mylar to petri dishes (sometimes combined with the bacteria colonies). The messages, jammed together, are contained into identical figurines reminiscent of human bodies but treated differently, creating a general sense of external homogeneity, as if these bodies were soldiers parading in front of the audience: they appear alone, they form alliances, they surround or are surrounded by bacteria. Yet, their “guts” are always different and jammed in different fashions. Whittaker says that the rolls so prepared “..become shadowy iterations of the body, images of mutable histories, degraded texts and transformative ecologies.”

..Whittaker’s elegant installation gives a non-didactical, yet very precise sense of the mutations of the myriad ecologies that infect each other thanks to the noise and the imperceptible changes of their surrounding environment made of sound (created by sound artist Tom Auger) and spoken words (the poetry by Julie Roorda, Jim Johnstone, Ruth Roach Pierson and Larry Sulky, who performed for us tonight). Here is an excerpt of the poetry reading Of note was the sound by Tom Auger played during the opening: a composition with motifs of replication, generative degradation and “infection”. You can listen to it and download the whole piece here.