A Glassiness to the Eyes
Billboard by Lisa Hirmer
September to November, 2017
A Glassiness to the Eyes was created during a residency with the Klondike Institute of Art in Culture in Dawson City and is based on the many stories of animal encounters told to the artist while she was there. In many of these stories the gaze that passes between human and animal plays an important narrative role, the moment when some form of communication passes from one species to another and the story progresses. This visual moment of eyes meeting though seemingly simple, actually belays the deep evolutionary entanglements we have with other animals. The human mind is incredibly adept at noticing eyes looking at it and though we can never be sure of what another creature is thinking, a rapid approximation of what an animal might be thinking could make the difference between surviving an encounter or not. A Glassiness to the Eyes began as a simple experiment to see if Google’s Artificial Neural Network (software being developed to recognize the content of images) could approach the human capacity to quickly notice eyes in a complex visual field. Surprisingly, the sophisticated software, confused by the patterns of leaves and light, saw eyes everywhere. The artist then combined this computer generated vision with the original photograph to create a wallpaper-like composite in which the machine’s reading turns an otherwise banal forest image into an uncanny scene teeming with the gaze of many beings.
Lisa Hirmer’s research and practice is included in AKA’s multi-year project Locals Only.
Lisa Hirmer an interdisciplinary artist whose work spans visual media, social practice, performance, community collaboration and experimental forms of publishing. Working under the pseudonym DodoLab, she explores the complicated nature of public opinion and the public life of ideas. In her photo-based work she studies the forces that shape and transform human relationships with the more-than-human world. She has shown her work across Canada and internationally including at Confederation Centre of the Arts, Harbourfront Centre, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Doris McCarthy Gallery, Peninsula Arts (U.K.), Blackwood Gallery (Mississauga), Nuit Blanche (Toronto), CAFKA (Kitchener-Waterloo) and Flux Factory (USA). She was recently commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario to create a new work in response to the sesquicentennial as part of the Every.Now.Then exhibition. Recent residencies include Time_Place_Space by Arts House (Australia), the Santa Fe Art Institute and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Hirmer is a graduate of the University of Waterloo School and is currently based in Guelph, Canada.