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KT Blogspot: Artist has been seeing and sharing the light since 1999
Andrew O’Malley’s light-inspired art reflects community and diversity
Story and photos by Tony Martins
UPDATE: Andrew O’Malley won the Bronson Avenue Renewal Project Public Art Competition. His proposal, Community Channel, will be installed at the exterior entranceway of the Bronson Centre, 211 Bronson Ave.
Technology-inspired artist Andrew O’Malley has been blogging since before it was cool or prevalent—even before the appearance of the popular Blogger web application that so many online scribes use. In those days, around 1999, it wasn’t even called blogging. O’Malley refers to what he was doing as maintaining a “regularly updated personal website.”
But being ahead of the curve is nothing new for this Carlingwood resident who is raising his 15-month-old son with his wife Deborah.
“I really like how enabling technology is,” O’Malley says. “I’m also fascinated with combining building blocks from various technologies—electronic sensors and lights or hardware interfacing with software or websites—into new systems and experiences.”
One of those experiences came to life locally in a very public way in September during the one-night Nuit Blanche art festival. O’Malley’s weather data-driven projections at the Irving Greenburg Theatre Centre graced two parts of the building and included fly-by text contributed by interested Tweeters.
“It captured people’s attention but I don’t think it was immediately obvious to people that it was interactive,” said O’Malley about his project. “That was OK though, since it was driven by Twitter data people were passively interacting with it all night.”
While O’Malley is also a noted DJ and has maintained a painting practice in recent years, his current focus is on interactive and data-driven lighting.
“For the lighting portion I’m using both physical lights like LEDs and digital or computer content via projectors,” explains the tech enthusiast. “I collaborate with my wife. We work as The Latest Artists, doing lighting, music mixed with video, and performance art.”
Amazingly, O’Malley still finds time to maintain his blog (technoetc.net/blog/), where most of his posts of late are technical in nature, something that he says has not hindered readership.
“I get lots of comments from readers as well as commissions for art projects,” says O’Malley.
“Currently I blog primarily about the process behind my art, particularly the technical aspects,” O’Malley says. “I also am active on Tumblr and Pinterest, where I post art, projects and music that I find inspiring.”
He also notes that writing about the technical aspects of the art helps create useful but informal documentation that others can learn from “and I can refer to later when I need to refresh my memory about details useful for current projects.”
Recent O’Malley blog posts have followed the developments of his “Community Channel” proposal that was shortlisted in early November along with six other projects in the Bronson Avenue Renewal public art competition.
The artist’s vision is for a group of life-sized, illuminated silhouettes depicting a range of community members—men, women, and children—standing atop the main entrance to the Bronson Centre building.
“Each one is individually illuminated from within, programmed with seasonally shifting colour palettes that in the short term gradually fade in and out of phase with one another,” the artist explains. “When the colours are out of phase, the sculpture broadcasts ideas of diversity, while once in phase, the sculpture illustrates community.”
The winner of the Bronson public art commission is to be announced in the latter half of November.