Samsung Canada Q&A with Alex McLeod, Canadian visual artist and finalist of Samsung The Wall X Niio Art Awards
In 2020, Samsung partnered with Niio, the premium platform for new media art, as part of a global art competition to discover the most inspiring digital art from around the world. Artists competed for a chance to be exhibited internationally on Samsung’s The Wall, a luxury, large form multi-purpose 4K MicroLED digital art canvas.
“Samsung’s dedication to bold innovation has enabled us to offer users new technology with the power to transform experiences and challenge the limits of digital displays in commercial and residential spaces with premium content,” said Mary Peterson, Vice President, IT & Enterprise Solutions, Samsung Electronics Canada. “Samsung’s partnership with Niio is a celebration of the arts community and the convergence of both artistic and technological exploration through next-generation digital art creations, all showcased on The Wall.”
The collaboration with Niio was driven by Samsung’s commitment to visual display in all forms, while also supporting creativity and the arts. The competition demonstrated just that commitment, with the artworks of carefully selected winners set to be displayed on Samsung’s The Wall at select locations worldwide, including the Samsung Experience Store at CF Toronto Eaton Centre – bringing to life every detail of vivid and vibrant imagery.
“Our mission at Niio is to make art more accessible to people who crave meaningful artistic experiences, while retaining the scarcity and integrity that makes it valuable to collectors and artists,” said Rob Anders, Co-founder and CEO, Niio. “We were thrilled to partner with Samsung to offer artists a chance to share their artworks on the iconic and prestigious large-scale canvas, The Wall.”
The competition was open for entries in early 2020 under the theme, ‘Digital Realism’, to show digital arts moving beyond the limits of artistic expression using the innovative display technology of The Wall. The open call received 494 artwork submissions from 59 countries that were then judged by a judging panel consisting of professional art consultants and Samsung representatives.
In July 2020, Samsung was delighted to announce the winners of its competition with Niio. Among the winners was Alex McLeod, a Toronto-based visual artist who creates work about interconnection, life’s cycles and empathy using the computer as a medium. Alex claimed third place for his moving image artwork, ‘The Gallery’, which allows the viewer to experience an environment that at first appears as an art exhibition, revealing something else in its display through pace and audio cues.
Samsung Canada recently had an opportunity to connect with Alex McLeod about his artwork and learn more about his experience as a part of the Samsung The Wall X Niio Art Awards.
Q: What is your artistic practice, background and direction?
A: I make all my work on the computer – virtual environments that span from tactility to abstraction. I did my undergrad in drawing and painting at OCAD, but always had an affinity with working digitally. Once I graduated, I taught myself 3D software and I’ve been making art ever since. I’m interested in the unseen interconnection between matter and energy. The molecules that made up worlds before us make up our world; the air we breathe has passed through countless lungs. There is something special about considering that. It’s like opening a portal into our own world.
Q: How was your experience with the Samsung The Wall X Niio Art Awards?
A: I never win anything, but also, I never enter anything. Niio has been such an incredible supporter of time-based new media works so when I saw the call in my inbox, I felt like maybe this was the right opportunity for me. I certainly didn’t expect to win. I’ve been doing this kind of art for over a decade now, and back then there weren’t so many folks out there. Now there are such incredible people making mind-blowing things. It was truly an honour to have been selected.
Q: How do you see joining international open calls like the Samsung The Wall X Niio Art Awards bringing opportunities or positive impact to shortlisted artists?
A: I think in a couple of ways it certainly helps legitimize the artist’s practice. Whenever an artist wins an important award, it’s listed in the first line of their bio. Another way this is helpful is placing the work in the eyes of the public and especially jurors. It’s increasingly hard to make an impact by sharing content that we make; there are so many amazing content creators, but how could we all possibly be seen? International calls afford an advantage as the jurors are required to watch your submission. Even if your work isn’t selected, it may be more appropriate for something later down the road.
Q: How does technology like The Wall from Samsung impact digital art?
A: Video artists were once confined to small Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) and videotapes. Now, large screen TVs are often more economical than printing and mounting work traditionally. The Wall reduces the gap even further between creator and viewer. Presenting digital work on a large scale used to require projections and a dark room, which is not ideal. We are in the early stages of equalization of digital and analog, and that’s exciting.
Q: Can you share some background about your artwork, ‘The Gallery’?
A: Yes, I made it after my exhibition, Ghost Stories. I was thinking about place, the role of the exhibition, and how to expand that. A handful of people outside of Toronto or Montreal were able to fly or drive in to visit the show in real life, however, recreating aspects of it virtually allowed for anyone with an internet connection to experience it. Of course, my sculptures didn’t come to life as they do in the video piece and that’s why this media is so wonderful; you can tell the viewer you are somewhere familiar, then take them somewhere magical one moment later.
Q: How do you feel that digital art engages an audience emotionally, especially during the global pandemic?
A: I used to have the privilege of travelling often. I’ve been watching so many videos on the internet of people walking through their streets or forests. It’s a super wonderful trick that only video and digital art can provide. It’s transportation without leaving your seat.
Q: How do you think display technology such as Samsung’s The Wall and new media art platforms such as Niio can inspire by providing seamless access to gallery quality moving image art to people everywhere?
A: By providing seamless access to contemporary digital art, we are not only creating an equilibrium between the digital and analog experience, but also charting a course for future creators to think without boundaries. Our virtual world can be whatever we can imagine.
Alex McLeod’s winning artwork, along with the artwork of the competition’s first and second place winners, will be exhibited at The Wall showcase locations around the world. Each piece of art will be brought to life on Samsung’s The Wall, the next generation of premium display technology, redefining what it means to deliver an immersive, luxury viewing experience.
To learn more about The Wall, please visit samsung.com/ca/business/microsite/the-wall, or to experience a virtual product tour, please visit displaysolutions.samsung.com/showcase/virtual-experience/the-wall.
Niio is the world’s premium digital art platform, connecting over 4,000 artists, galleries and collectors to art professionals and art lovers. Founded in 2014 by Rob Anders and Oren Moshe, the company’s mission is to empower media artists and inspire people everywhere through seamless access to high-quality moving image art.
With its secured patented technology, art professionals are able to safeguard, showcase, publish and distribute their multi-format works. Collectors, consumers and corporations alike can discover, trade and display thousands of moving digital works on-demand, on any type of screen or digital canvas.
Niio is headquartered in Tel-Aviv, with operations in the US, Asia and the UK, and customers in more than 40 countries. Get the Niio app on Android, IOS, Samsung Smart TV and on Niio.com.
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