Disorienting encounters

David Yu’s exhibit, Other Random Encounters, bombards and confuses the senses

David Yu holds a BFA from Ontario College of Art and Design.
David Yu holds a BFA from Ontario College of Art and Design.
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David Yu’s exhibit at the Artel uses glass tables and coffee mugs to recreate chance encounters.

Inside the exhibit, Other Random Encounters, loud speakers play several conversations at the same time. You can’t make out what the people are saying.

It’s disorienting.

Inside the mugs are projections on frosted paper of the individual people having these conversations, with the slide changing every 45 seconds.

The use of mugs in different shapes and designs is a creative way to display the random encounters. They bring to mind a coffee house and the variety of conversations one might have there, all disconnected and isolated.

It’s clear the tables are separated to show random encounters occurring. But it’s unclear why the mugs are further separated — why not display the two people having a conversation together in the same mug? Yu ostracizes each figure not only from the viewer, but from all figures to create true randomness.

Other Random Encounters would have been better suited to a gallery with multiple rooms. If the tables were in different rooms with individual sound systems then the viewer could travel to different conversations.

Ambiguity is the main problem of this exhibition. Vagueness can often be justified by the idea that the viewer is inconsequential, that what matters is that the artist understands the point of his or her piece. But there’s a difference between ambiguity as a theme and ambiguity as a result of poor execution. Unfortunately Other Random Encounters suffers from the latter.

Other Random Encounters is on display at the Artel until Jan. 30.

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