Separation Point

Sean Caulfield & Royden Mills

Mainspace Exhibition
November 18 to December 17, 2011

Following from their critically acclaimed exhibition at the Glenbow Museum in 2010, Caulfield & Mills’ latest immersive multi-media installation will continue to explore themes of mutation, metamorphosis and the biological/technological dichotomy.

The Observed Moment

In the latest installation by Sean Caulfield and Royden Mills, an implied future meets an observed past. As if in a lab experiment, the moment is suspended and movement forward or back seems possible. The scientists – or were they artists? – have disappeared; the project sits in limbo. Rich visual evidence of biological and technological processes awaits discovery.

The artists – or are they scientists? – Caulfield and Mills have partnered previously to explore the uneasy exchange between technology and humanity. Their collaborations on this theme intentionally blur boundaries and question the value of such categorizations, such ‘separations.’ Up to this point, the artists’ individual works have remained distinct, with Caulfield’s drawings and prints and Mills’ sculptural works shown side by side to express a jointly conceived idea. For Separation Point their respective two- and three-dimensional voices combine to create a drawing/sculpture hybrid. Paradoxically, the artists have collaborated more fully than ever on this inquiry into disconnection.

The exhibit title also refers to the central piece in the installation. Flowing through the work’s core is a drawing-in-progress on a long sheet of translucent film. Neatly wound at one end, the encoded expanse extends horizontally to pass through a wooden boxlike structure. A set of magnifying lenses permeates the box’s top surface, allowing detached views of otherwise hidden, microscopic marks, marks that increase in complexity as the drawing advances on its course. Exiting the box, the sheet is pulled upward over a supporting frame then spills down toward the floor. Though the structure itself is static, it manifests an unmistakable impression of process. There is a sense that a force within the work is reaching out to something that moves in us as viewers. It hints at the potential for an organic transformation inside the machinery of science.

The title Separation Point suggests a finite moment, the exact position at which such a metamorphosis might occur. The installation is full of possible instants that might be so identified, similar to how personal defining moments register amid the randomness of life experience. The artists offer us a laboratory in which to pinpoint transition.

Additional works in the exhibition might be seen as products of the ‘machine’ or human attempts to understand our changing sense of self in relation to the tangled interface of biology and technology. The installation’s multiple lenses remind us that observation is a key process uniting the fields of art and science, of nature and technology. A macroscopic perspective acknowledges that once observation takes place, both the viewer and the object of her gaze are forever changed. Separation Point embodies the optimism and apprehension of this prospect.

– Linda Hawke


Sean Caulfield and Royden Mills have extensive independent careers exhibiting prints, drawings and sculptures nationally and internationally including: Recent Prints, Yanagisawa Gallery, Saitama, Japan; The Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art 2002, The Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton/ The Nickle Arts Museum, Calgary, Alberta; The 14th Seoul Space International Print Biennial, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea, and the Grounds for Sculpture, New York, U.S.A., among many others.

Linda Hawke earned a BFA in art education at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and has applied it for close to twenty years in public museums and galleries. Her fine art writing is an extension of this work. Recent projects include Celebration of the Bow River 2010 for The City of Calgary and exhibition essays for the artist-run centres Stride and TRUCK.