MWX2018 Vancouver – An Open Platform of Feature Artworks and Special Projects

Vince Dziekan, Monash University, Australia, Kate Hennessy, Simon Fraser University, School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Canada


Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg February 3 to May 6, 2018 Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg is a major retrospective exhibition of the monumental paintings of international art icon Takashi Murakami. From his early works to new, never-before-seen paintings and selected sculptures from different periods, the more than fifty works in this exhibition reflect Murakami’s exquisite level of craft, his insightful engagement with history and the consistent, universal themes that have guided his practice over the past three decades. Look for Facebook Messenger Codes throughout the exhibition, Takashi Murakami, to discover more about the artworks on display. Immersive VR experience: Respire (Featured as part of the MWX18 VANCOUVER curated exhibition) Respire is an Immersive Virtual Reality (VR), biosensing and Musical AI system that generates an affective sensory environment from breathing patterns. Created by artist/researchers Mirjana Prpa, Kıvanç Tatar and Philippe Pasquier, the piece draws upon mindfulness principles to refocus the user’s attention to their own breathing in order to create a reconnection with rich embodied experience that is often lost in our interaction with new and emerging technologies.


MWX2018 VANCOUVER – An Open Platform of Feature Artworks and Special Projects


Catalogue Essay


In the thick of it – A Curatorial “Underview” of MWX2018 VANCOUVER

by Vince Dziekan & Kate Hennessy


Cultural history is not the record of a merely fortuitous sequence of events…
Ultimately we must have recourse to the dynamic, human agents whose
creative inventions and insights as well as persevering determination is the
source of all cultur
al processes.” – David Bidney, Human Nature and the Cultural Process (1947)


“Within Indigenous contexts, contexts that are never properly ‘post-colonial,’ the sovereignty of the people we speak of, when speaking for themselves, interrupt anthropological portraits of timelessness, procedure and function that dominate representations of their past and, sometimes, their present.” – Audra Simpson, Ethnographic Refusal: Indigeneity, ‘Voice’ and Colonial Citizenship (2007)


Human culture manifests itself in systems of artifacts, social institutions and their symbolic forms of expression. Exhibition display, wall labels and didactic panels, the artist interview and the catalogue essay, all serve as stages that perform the curatorial (Lind 2012). As contributing parts of a discursive system, the act of curating becomes implicitly concerned with the effect of its own agency upon how we come to know the world and produce, communicate, circulate and share cultural knowledge with others within it.

In an analogous way to how an open platform in computing describes a software system based on open standards, the curatorial programme of MWX2018 VANCOUVER has been designed to accommodate a series of open-ended engagements that foreground the complexity of cross-cultural communication. Inspired by ecomuseology, critical heritage studies and cultural theory thinking, the museum has become a critically reflexive space. While the exhibition itself –re-imagined as an itinerary, a set of mobile and itinerant departures– serves as a sort of juncture that interconnects and channels different ways of knowing; and that, by doing so, carries along the promise for opening up spaces of meaning-making that function somewhere between theory and practice, reflective analysis and action.

The exhibited artworks and specially commissioned projects that comprise this year’s instalment of MWX demonstrate de-institutionalizing practices (artistic, interpretive, collaborative) centered around themes of cultural content and digital equity. As “event-structures”, they introduce ways of thinking about cross-cultural transformation and the emergent potential of collaborative, co-creative methods of knowledge production. In contrast to highly abstracted and authoritative forms of knowledge built upon empirical observation and claims of objective neutrality, this approach embraces forms of knowing performed through processes ‘grounded in active, intimate, hands-on participation and personal connection: “knowing how,” and “knowing who”’ (Conquergood 2002, p. 146).

In Vancouver, these dynamic relationships are exemplified in a number of distinctive ways. Mirjana Prpa, Kıvanç Tatar and Philippe Pasquier’s immersive VR work Respire relies on the user’s breath and biosensory response to generate a co-created experience.  Heiltsuk artist Shawn Hunt’s “state-of-the-art” collaboration with Microsoft challenges understanding of technological and cultural realities at the “cultural interface”, the contested space that exists between Western and Indigenous knowledge systems (Nakata 2007). The Museum of Vancouver’s Haida Now exhibition provides a transformative example of Indigenous curation and relationship building with Vancouver’s urban Haida community, leading up to the repatriation of cultural property to the Haida Gwaii Museum on BC’s north coast. Short documentaries featuring Haida artists and visionaries such as Jim Hart, Corey Bulpitt, and Miles Richardson were created by students at Simon Fraser University under mentorship of the curators to document the historic reconnection of Haida people with their cultural belongings. The associated ‘Repatriation Monologue’ public event presents an opportunity for extending these conversations beyond the Museums and the Web conference. Illustratively, these projects amplify different types of relationships that exist –and can still be brought into existence– between museums and communities, including “source communities” (Peers and Brown 2007).

By coming together as an “open platform”, we hope that an engaging and interactive space is carved out within the conference where issues of cultural authority and decolonization can be freely explored and discussed. By inviting artists and audiences to speak for themselves, the featured artworks and participatory events instigate –in both direct and more open-ended, speculative and experiential ways– active process of “looking at”, “reading through” and (perhaps most radically) “making with” cultural representation. Departing from conventional protocols of display in order to better perform the practices of artists, designers, creative technologists, educators, researchers and students that find themselves congregating at the “cultural interface”, MWX2018 VANCOUVER prompts us to consider how cultural history and heritage can be (re)generated to shape new visions of our shared future.

Acknowledgments – The curators wish to acknowledge the generous contribution made by the contributing artists, designers, educators and students towards this year’s MWX exhibition. Their committed involvement is an inspiring testament to how perspective and understanding of our historical and contemporary position can be gained by learning –critically and creatively– together. We recognize and acknowledge, in turn, that this exhibition and conference is being convened on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.



Bidney, D. (1947). Human Nature and the Cultural Process. American Anthropologist. Vol. 49 No. 3, July-September 1947, pp. 375-399.

Conquergood, D. (2002). Performance Studies: Interventions and Radical Research. The Drama Review, 46, 2, Summer 2002, pp. 145-156.

Lind, M. (2012). Performing the Curatorial: Within and Beyond Art. Berlin: Sternberg Press.

Nakata, M. (2007). The Cultural Interface. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education. Vol. 36, Supplement 2007, pp. 7-14.

Peers, L. and Brown, A.K. (2007). Museums and Source Communities. In S. Watson (ed.), Museums and their Communities. London: Routledge, pp. 519-537.

Simpson, A. (2007). Ethnographic Refusal: Indigeneity, ‘Voice’ and Colonial Citizenship, Junctures: The Journal for Thematic Dialogue, no. 9, pp.67-80.


Featured Artworks


Transformation Mask


Thursday, 19 April 2018, Exhibitors’ Reception @ MW Conference, Sheraton Wall Center

Shawn Hunt, Transformation Mask (2017). Holographic mixed reality installation.

Shawn Hunt’s Transformation Mask marks a new trajectory for engagement and exploration of First Nations practice. Taking a step away from his recognized engagement with the handmade, the Heiltsuk artist created this interactive installation by using the Microsoft HoloLens to absorb the viewer in a holographic mixed reality experience of technology, sound and space. The piece appropriates the traditional aspects of metamorphosis (the transformation of the Raven and human) to point towards technology and innovation as aspects that expand traditional practices and open new avenues for engagement and interpretation.

Resulting from a collaboration between the artist and designers and engineers from Microsoft Vancouver’s in-house maker space, The Garage, Transformation Mask was first unveiled on June 30, 2017 at the Vancouver Art Gallery as part of FUSE: 2167.

Shawn Hunt was born in Vancouver Canada in 1975. He is an artist of Heiltsuk, French and Scottish ancestry. Coming from a family of artists (his father, Bradley Hunt, is a prominent Heiltsuk artist), Shawn’s work takes on a complexity of influence from both his training in traditional Heiltsuk design, wood carving, jewelry carving and painting and his engagement with contemporary questions of subversion, preconception and fluid meanings. From 2012-2015, he undertook an apprenticeship with Coast Salish painter Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, whose own interactive virtual reality environment, Inherent Rights, Vision Rights (1991-92), is recognized as the first VR artwork shown at the National Gallery of Canada.

Shawn Hunt is represented by Macaulay & Co. Fine Art, Vancouver. For more information, see:




Wednesday, 18 April 2018, Opening Reception @ Vancouver Art Gallery

Mirjana Prpa, Kıvanç Tatar and Philippe Pasquier, Respire (2018). Immersive Virtual Reality (VR), Biosensing and Musical Artificial Intelligence (AI) system.

Respire (2018) combines an Immersive Virtual Reality (VR), and biosensing of breathing with a Musical AI system to generate an affective sensory environment from breathing patterns. Built upon mindfulness principles, the piece refocuses the user’s attention to their own breathing to create a reconnection with rich embodied experience that is often lost in our interaction with new and emerging technologies.

Mirjana Prpa, Kıvanç Tatar and Philippe Pasquier started collaborating in 2016. A shared interest in Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and art brought them together. Their collaborative research explores how embodied interaction brings the user’s focus back to lived experience. Their work with emerging technologies also draws upon principles of Musical Metacreation to create soundscapes that are produced from an ongoing exchange between living (human user) and artificial entities. Mirjana and Kıvanç are PhD students in the School of Interactive Arts+Technology (SIAT), and Philippe Pasquier is Professor and director of the Metaceation lab at SIAT, Simon Fraser University.

For more information, see:


Open Platform Projects


Interpretive Media Documenting Haida Now at the Museum of Vancouver

Produced by Kate Hennessy with students from Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology, in collaboration with curators Kwiaahwah Jones and Viviane Gosselin, Museum of Vancouver

Video still (Corey Bulpitt). Interpretive media produced for Haida Now exhibition , Museum of Vancouver (2018).

In the Fall of 2017, students from Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology were honored to collaborate with curators Kwiaahwah Jones and Viviane Gosselin to produce seven short documentaries featuring local Haida artists for installation in the exhibition Haida Now: A Visual Feast of Innovation and Tradition, which runs from March 16th 2018 at the Museum of Vancouver. The videos show Haida artists and visionaries Corey Bulpitt, Jim Hart, Merle Wililams, Isabel Rorick, Evelynn Vanderhoop, Myles Richardson, Latash-Maurice Nahanee, and Kwiaahwah Jones sharing knowledge of the art works in the exhibition and reflecting on the role of museums in the reconciliation movement.

In the words of Guest Curator, Kwiaahwah Jones, “Haida Now is a glimpse into the Haida Nation’s artistic and cultural legacy that we continue to write. These are the stories we can use to help build better relationships for the future, and create a greater cross-cultural understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.”

Institutional collaborators: Kwiwaah Jones, Viviane Gosselin, and Sharon Fortney

Student Producers: Aynur Kadir, Sumeet Kaur Anand, Joyce Caroline Aquino, Minsi Chen, Jin Du, Dawn Li, Salathiel Wells, Quinn MacDonald, Mike Hofer, Jessica Fan, Alex Fung, Eric Cheng, Gordon Huang, David Yeung, Ricky Chen, Snow Liu, Wendy Parng, Yu-Chieh Tseng, Brandon Hoare, Bohan Li, Mengran Song, Reese Muntean, Jay Tseng


Memory Institutions in a Digital Age: Provocations for the Future

Coordinated by Hannah Turner with students from the Centre For Digital Media at Simon Fraser University


As part of the Spring 2018 course at the Centre For Digital Media called “Museums and Art Galleries in a Digital Age” students interviewed five local institutions about the issues, challenges, and opportunities of digital technologies and made five short films of these interviews. The questions raised by the students explore the histories and theory of memory institutions, and the shifts enacted by the use of new media to organize and exhibit physical and digital collections. From the digital preservation of archival collections, to the use of digital storytelling platforms in libraries, to the display and preservation of new media art in galleries; these short interviews highlight the individuals who are doing important work in the local community on a daily basis.

In addition to screening the resulting video interviews at the conference, a small interview booth will be set up as part of the MWX Open Platform where conference attendees will be invited to shed light on issues they are experiencing in the digital museum field.

Institutional Collaborators: Hanna Cho (NGX Interactive); Sarah Joyce and Gordon Duggan (New Media Gallery); Gerry Lawson (Indigitization, Museum of Anthropology, UBC); Dan Pon (Grunt Gallery); Cecily Walker (Vancouver Public Library)

Master’s Student Facilitators: John Bondoc, Sherlaine Lau, Nancy Kwong, Julie Puech (Centre for Digital Media); Darren DeCoursey; Emily Leischner (University of British Columbia); Maggie Poirier (Simon Fraser University)


When is a Museum?

Coordinated by Gillian Russell with Pete Fung and Samein Shamsher (Emily Carr University of Art & Design)


Imagined as a liberated act of (re)locating, collecting and translating, When is a Museum? looks into ways in which cultural institutions (new and old) come to reflect, embed, and create value and meaning in our everyday lives. Celebrating the construction of the relationship and dramaturgy allowed to be developed through engagement with the audience, the project brings to light these questions, while attempting to generate new ways of understanding the fractured past, present and future functions of museums.

Samien Shamsher and Pete Fung’s studio practice spans formats and scales from the domestic and public realm, images, objects, spaces and exchanges. Their work investigates through real life projects, the shifting roles of the designer in complex social systems while crafting experiences that generate topical conversations and engaging diverse communities. Since 2015, the duo has worked with Centre A, Living Oceans, Discourse Media, Vancouver Public Library, and Simon Fraser University. Produced in partnership with Gillian Russell.




The curators wish to acknowledge the support of Museums and the Web, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Olson Visual and the Australia Council for the Arts; and their respective institutional affiliations with Monash University and Simon Fraser University.

Cite as:
Dziekan, Vince and Hennessy, Kate. "MWX2018 Vancouver – An Open Platform of Feature Artworks and Special Projects." MW18: MW 2018. Published March 22, 2018. Consulted .