For his solo exhibition at the Arsenal (Montreal), English-born and now Vancouver-based artist David Spriggs has produced a new series of nine, large-scale works that speak of modern surveillance, colour, and symbols of power. Looking at various icons, structures and mechanisms of contemporary surveillance, Spriggs exposes the relationship between optics and mechanisms of surveillance that are omnipresent aspects of contemporary life.
Spriggs works are constituted of a succession of transparent acetate sheets on which he has hand-drawn shapes. When superposed these independent shapes recreate 3D volumes. Through this technique, the artist plays on the composition and decomposition of the visitors’ perceived reality, while playing optical tricks on them.
The exhibition title, PRISM, refers both to the optical apparatus and a US National Security Agency program. In optics, a prism is a transparent element with flat, polished surfaces that refract light, separating a beam of white light into the spectrum of colours that compose it. Whereas the US National Security Agency program is a mass electronic surveillance data mining program that was leaked to the world by Edward Snowden in 2009. The artist has thus become interested in different methods of surveillance from past to present: Panoptic architecture, video surveillance, digital scanners, etc. Through this new series of work, David Spriggs explores our relationship to authority and questions its control. A monumental work titled Regisole (Sun King) anchors the exhibition, the sheer size of this work immediately situates the viewer as a dominated and observed entity; a pawn in a much larger game.