Should you find yourself meandering through the Plus-15 system downtown this winter, take a moment to check out the sections connected to the Epcor Centre. For some time now, the gallery windows in this portion of the Plus-15 have showcased work from emerging artists coming out of the artist-run centres and smaller public galleries in the city.
The Untitled Art Society’s current contribution to the space is Jennifer Akkermans’s intriguing, tongue-in-cheek installation Meet the Morphoids. Displayed in panel-style poster presentations, Akkermans’s fibre creatures are purported to be a newly discovered phylum, the subject of intense speculation and “study” by the Institute of Morphoid Research (IMR). She’s even obtained a PhD in cryptozoology from the online Thunderhead College to prove the seriousness of her endeavour.
Akkermans uses existing scientific nomenclature in naming her colourful monsters, and documents their life habits with photographs of her specimens “in their natural environments.” She even comments on their personalities — when observable and applicable. The website for the IMR — instituteofmorphiodresearch.com — has a video of Akkermans presenting her “research” at the New Pseudosciences Conference in a performance art piece at the Alberta College of Art and Design. When discussing one of the morphoids, the “pteropod,” Akkermans says that it “loves to cuddle.” Her creations look like an abstract production from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
Other notable displays in the Plus-15 include The New Gallery’s The Compassionate Eye by James Bannerman, which is a collection of photographic portraits of Calgary in various states of construction. Then there’s Remix, a collaboration between Truck Gallery and Telus Spark and which features scribblerbots — “lo-fi, high-tech devices that leave a mark as they skitter across paper.” The scribblerbots were previously created by visitors to the Telus Spark and have now been left to wander a ’60s sci-fi landscape to doodle their world.