Interview with... TRISTAN SAUER

Over the next two months, coinciding with the Remote Possibility exhibition at Whippersnapper Gallery, we'll be posting interviews with different members of Roundtable's 2020 and 2021 Cohorts, discussing their experiences doing an online Residency, and of making work during a global pandemic. Out first interview is with Tristan Sauer, whose work is currently on display at Whippersnaper's gallery space.

Please briefly describe yourself and your practice

I am an emerging media artist and curator interested in the global societal influence of the various intersections between technology and the human experience. Throughout my practice I work closely with physical computing, arduino, and wearable technology to create emotional experiences via seemingly neutral digital tools. I further explore these ideas through my identity as a mixed race Afro-Canadian, often working closely with the histories of afro-futurism and afro-pessimism. I am currently exploring the intersections of protest, technology, and capitalism through an upcoming body of work that will be completed in 2022.

Had you ever taken part in a residency before Roundtable?

No. The Roundtable residency has been my first residency experience.

Have you had any opportunities fall through as a result of the pandemic?

I unfortunately missed out on the opportunity to present my thesis project during the final year of my undergraduate program. This was especially disappointing as I had also been working as the Co-Project Lead of the show and was unable to show results from both my artistic and curatorial practice.

If so, how were you feeling about it during the time of the residency?

I have since moved on from this disappointment. The past cannot be changed and I am grateful for opportunities such as Roundtable that I now get to participate in. I think looking forward to what is to come and what I am doing right now is more important to me than dwelling on what could have been.

What about doing a remote residency was different than you expected?

I expected less consideration towards display, even though more consideration ended up being necessary.

What ended up being more challenging than you thought?

Something I had not given much consideration before starting the residency was how my work would be displayed and how I should optimize it for online viewing. Up until this point the majority of the work I have completed has been physical in form and must be viewed in person to fully experience. Choosing to work in a physical medium for this project made me consider how my project and documentation had to adapt for an online platform, something I had not expected to be as challenging prior to.

What ended up being less of an issue than you thought?

I found it easier than I expected to navigate the use of photogrammetry technology to scan my face.

Did working / exhibiting online have any lasting impact on your practice?

I am very interested in the world of net art, both as a fan and as a medium I would like to work in. Being able to work with the idea of online presentation in mind, while experiencing the work of my peers, gave me a plethora of insight into how my practice may evolve in a growing digital landscape.

Has the pandemic had any lasting impact on your practice?

The pandemic has exposed me to new realizations of how the systems that govern us in Canada have failed in many regards. My practice has always been politically charged and the results of the pandemic have only strengthened that aspect of my work.