Proximal Spaces
Jan 21
Jan 31 2021
exhibition online

‘Proximal Spaces’ is a multi-modal exhibition that explores the environment at multiple scales in concentric circles of proximity to the body. Inspired by Edward Hall’s 1961 notation of intimate (1.5ft), personal (4ft), social (12ft) and public (25ft) spaces in his “Proxemics” diagrams, the artworks are an interpretation for this current time – this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In Fall 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, a team of international Bioartists collaborated on a montage of microscopic images of their everyday environment. The resulting images and discussions explored a heightened awareness of the microbiome on and around us. ‘Proximal Spaces’ was originally designed as an exhibition at the Toronto International Design Centre as part of the 2021 DesignTO Festival.

This installation, now viewable online, presents visualizations based on original microbial drawings and Petri dish samples by the Bioartists. Each of these diagrams is a montage of microscopic and sub-microscopic images of the everyday environment as experienced and nurtured by us. In addition, an AR-enabled application explores the invisible environments of computer generated bioaerosols suspended in the air of virtual space, bringing the visuality of these previously invisible organisms into our living environment.

This work visualizes the variegated response of the biological environment to unprecedented levels of physical distancing and self-isolation and recent developments in vaccine design that impact our understanding of interpersonal and interspecies ‘messaging’. What continues to thrive in the 6ft ‘dead spaces’ between us? What invisible particles linger on and create an biological archive through our movements through space? The artwork presents an interesting mode of interspecies engagement through hybrid virtual and physical interaction.


Artistic Directors: Joel Ong, Elaine Whittaker // Original Drawings: Elaine Whittaker // Graphic Design Programming: Natalie Plociennik, Bhavesh Kakwani // AR development: Sachin Khargie, Ryan Martin // Bioartists: Roberta Buiani, Nathalie Dubois Calero, Sarah Choukah, Nicole Clouston, Jess Holz, Mick Lorusso, Maro Pebo, Felipe Shibuya // Video Editor: Nada El-Omari // Sound designer: Michael Palumbo // Web: Lu Zhouyang



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