Arriving at the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies building at UBC Okanagan feels a little bit like you’ve entered a world-class centre for the arts and the only limit to what you can do there will be your own imagination. Installations and exhibits line the walls and studios with art projects in every medium are in progress behind every door you pass. There are myriad spaces for artists within and beyond the walls of the building and you get the sense that Stephen Foster, who is the department head of Creative Studies, is quietly ensuring there’s a steady conversation going on between disciplines in order to feed the interconnected, multidisciplinary world that is Creative Studies at UBC Okanagan.
An established artist whose work similarly spans a variety of mediums from digital video to photography and interactive sound and video installation, Stephen brings a lifetime of experience to his work as a professor and director of the Summer Indigenous Intensive Program.
A: Celebrating Indigenous scholarship and art with world-leading scholars and artists. The Summer Indigenous Intensive is a unique opportunity to experience Indigenous scholars in a dialogue with each other as they work through some of most challenging and complicated issue facing Indigenous artistic and cultural practice. The impact it has on our students and faculty is profound and I look forward to the events associated with the intensive every year. It is my hope that in some way it will have a lasting and transformative effect on the University, local community and Canadian society in general.
A: My current work is most interested in interactive media that uses sound and video triggered in unsuspecting ways. It is about engaging the audience directly in the creation of the work through their own simple and direct but subtle interactions with the surrounding space or objects in the work. Sometimes the audience is not even aware that their presence has altered the piece. The idea is to create a living work that changes depending on how the viewer approaches the work or the choices they make when viewing the work. Each time the work is viewed it is transformed by the viewing.
A: I have been teaching digital media for over 25 years. The technologies of capturing image and sound have become increasing intuitive and portable not to mention more integrated into our daily lives. The way we interact with digital media has become more physical. The increase in quality and capability of digital technologies are obvious but it is the accessibility that has really been transformative not only for society in general but also for art-making.
The process of working with digital media has become more immediate, tangible and in some ways more ephemeral. What took weeks to accomplish with sophisticated and expensive computers can now be done my most smart phones in minutes if not seconds. The means of distribution have also changed radically over the years as well and we now have means to publish our instantaneously but this often seems to result in a short life span of some work and in that sense digital artwork has becoming fleeting and less permanent in the way it is consumed by its audience.
The increase in quality and capability of digital technologies are obvious but it is the accessibility that has really been transformative not only for society in general but also for art-making.
A: Remain open and experiment. Always experiment and don’t take a medium or format as a given. Art has the ability to transform society and that can start by a simple or subtle shift in an artist use or manipulation of technology or traditional medium.