We love digital artists (check out our Digital Artist-in-Residence program) and so does Equitable Bank. Last month, they awarded Toronto-based multimedia artist Colin Rosati with the inaugural Emerging Digital Artist Award (EDAA) of $5,000. His winning entry, titled “Autocidal After-Image” is a “video animation that explores the structure of digital and online space through user-generated data.”
“Autocidal After-Image” is the first new media addition to Equitable Bank’s modern and contemporary artwork collection. Rosati, a graduate of OCAD University, creates work with 3D modelling, Max MSP, single and multi-channel video and interactive installations. The other shortlist candidates for the EDAA include Santiago Tavera, Yi Xin Tong, Brianna Lowe, and Zinnia Naqvi (who all received $1,000).
Studio Beat caught up with Colin via email to discuss his art, his parents, the internet and what he plans on doing with his prize money.
Studio Beat: Hi Colin! How would you describe your digital flavour?
Colin Rosati: I would describe my digital flavour as being aware of network media, global politics, neoliberalism and the effects of digital tools in mediating our communication and relationships. That being said, I approach my work with a degree of humour while being informed by political environments. I allow the digital tools I use to exert a sense of agency or show the digital media specificity. Fragmentation, appropriation and randomness come with the tools that I use.
Can you describe your journey to digital art? What type of art did you start with? How did it come to this?
I remember when I was young I would play with Lego and Lego Robotics. Maybe this simple robotics informed how I approach playing and art making. I came to digital art from a painting background. I used to embed digital media awareness into my paintings, informing the painting process, mark making and colour choice. I found as I started working with more digital tools I felt less of the need to put this digital context into my paintings. Although I feel the painting context is always part of my digital media practice, informing how I compose digital media with a sense of off-handedness, process and humour. A more direct influence was this first year class at OCAD called Art and Code, where we learned processing and Arduino as well as learning history of Video Art and New Media also inspired me to push my practice.
Do your parents understand what you do?
My dad is an engineer so I can talk to him about programming and electronics more so then I could with paintings. My mom knows to call my work New Media art which is nice and I commend her for using that term, even though I’m not sure I know much of what I do or where my practice is going.
Would you recommend a young artist to become a digital artist?
Absolutely, I feel it is extremely important for young generations of artist to be aware and critical of the digital tools that mediate our lives. I think the artist role is one of the only roles that can offer a filter or way of looking and engaging with our world that is oversaturated in content to make some sort of sense out of things- or at least just aestheticize our world. I feel like artist that work with more traditional media and don’t acknowledge digital media is acting a little like a hopeless romantic lost in the nostalgia for the past.
What happens to your art if the internet disappears?
I don’t really make much internet art. My practice won’t be too affected although my online presence would be lacking. Also I feel like I would make use of more libraries and archives for my research.
What are you going to do with your prize money?
Business, party and eat lots of dark chocolate…I’ve been planning on buying some tech equipment for installations and save it for other pipe dreams.
Do you ever miss touching something real?
I think lack of physicality is sort of a misnomer of in digital practices. It really depends what kind of work artist engage with. I am working on an electronics project that involves tracking and reacting to inflatable sculptures. The physicality of inflatables is real funny and real. That being said I do miss the haptic processes of painting.
What do you wish you could make the internet do?
It would be nice if the internet wasn’t such a privatized space. In certain new media art there is the risk of obsolescence for the work. Painting and sculpture don’t become obsolete they just have a lifespan.
Unrelated to that I would love if Google was better organized, like the search capabilities of a library database. I’ve been waiting for some surprising wonderful apps that don’t feed into commodification or social isolation- so make the internet function better.
Do you have a beloved website that we should all know about?
Visit Colin Rosati’s website here.
Read more about the Equitable Bank Emerging Digital Artist Award here.