What journey do we take to arrive at an idea? Artists Michel Gignac and Gorellaume chose to explore that pathway in their new in-situ work, Through the Thought Process, installed at Northlight Innovation Centre.
“We were really inspired by the space and all of the idea generation that goes on in the building,” said Gignac. “We wanted the work to be a metaphor for what’s happening in the space every day.” “We often think of an idea as something that comes out of the blue – that a light bulb just switches on – but in actual fact there’s a long thread, or unconscious process, that it takes to get to that light bulb.”
The work weaves through multiple rooms at Northlight.
“We just kept expanding,” said Gorellaume, laughing. “We started with one wall and as we worked we just kept pitching to Northlight that it would look better if we took more space.”
The finished product snakes in and out of walls and travels between rooms. “We let the building tell us what to do and we just kept branching out,” said Gorellaume. Through the Thought Process plays on the imagery of brain circuitry, with wires merging into an enormous mass as they travel through the building until they are eventually refined and they taper into a single strand that culminates in a light bulb, representing a clear, refined idea. It was important to the artists to seek out and scavenge previously used wire for the project.
“So much of the work that goes on in Northlight is technology-focussed, so we wanted to make reference to and remind everyone how technology impacts the land,” said Gignac. “One element of how we captured this was by reusing trash from the tech sector to create the work.”
The process of scavenging the wire was an intensive one. They sourced it from many places including the Mount Lorne Transfer Station, Computers for Schools and Midnight Sun Fireworks’ 2019 Rendezvous fireworks display. They then had to clean and trim the ends before attaching it all to the walls.
“Every single wire is super glued to the wall individually,” said Gignac. “We’d put glue on a six-inch section and hold it in place until it had set enough for us to move on. We probably left a lot of our DNA on the walls.”
The artists wanted to incorporate two-dimensional and three-dimensional elements throughout the piece, so Gignac’s sculptural wirework is coupled to Gorellaume’s drawings and paintings of animals following the tracks of the thought process along its length.
“I like to work with animals because we naturally anthropomorphize them,” said Gorellaume. “I can represent human emotion through their expressions while still leaving room for the viewer’s interpretation.”
The animals are spaced throughout the work, representing some of the attitudes or emotions associated with different stages of bringing an idea to fruition.
“For example the stout is keen, the coyote is considering, the fox is sleeping on it and the birds are picking away at it and narrowing it down,” Gorellaume said. “Depicting animals in the work was also very important to us as it served to remind the building’s users that everything they are creating in this space links to the world outside. Most people chose to live in the Yukon due, in part, to a connection to the wilderness and natural world, and we wanted to make sure that connection wasn’t lost in this space.”
The work continues to expand. The duo is now installing the second phase of the work in a space within the building occupied by Yukon College.
“While on the Northlight side of the building we were exploring how an idea comes into being, on the Yukon College side, we wanted to explore how you make that idea concrete to reference the work being done in that section to help people develop their ideas and make them happen in the real world,” Gignac added.
The two pieces of the work connect through the light bulb.
“If you take a bit more of an abstract view of it, the light bulb looks a bit like a drip of water,” said Gignac. “We use this as our catalyst for the second phase of the work, creating ripples for the idea to spread out from.”
In the second phase of the work, painted ripples spread out, breaking up ice made from salvaged foam. Painted fish can be seen jumping through the spaces created, leading towards other animals within a more structured, ordered space.
“Where the first half of the work really explores the process of an individual coming up with an idea, we hope the second half captures the support that individual draws from the community to make that idea a reality,” said Gignac.