40-Tonne Viewfinder (in progress) by Mark Preston

The 40-Tonne Viewfinder is a reclaimed grain bin extracted from an Ontario farm. This Westeel-Rosco bin, now obsolete due to the increasing scale of farming, is in the preliminary stages of being modified to create a mobile, stand-alone audio/visual environment.

The 40-Tonne Viewfinder at Factory 163 in Stratford, On. (2018)

The 40-Tonne Viewfinder at Factory 163 in Stratford, On. (2018)

Land/Line by Mark Preston

Art Gallery of Guelph

January 17 to April 29, 2018

With urban encroachment, farmland in Ontario has dropped by 1.6 million acres since 1991, while the population has grown by 3.5 million. The same period has also seen a transformation of the rural work force, technology, machinery, crops, food science, and of course, the land itself. With Land/Line, the Stratford-based Common Collective presents an interactive installation that combines new media and analog technologies to explore social and environmental changes witnessed in rural environments in Ontario over the past half-century.

Incorporating 4K videography, stop motion and digital animation, aerial and archival footage, field recordings, found objects, and hand-built elements, the project examines the dramatic transition away from traditional subsistence-based farming systems towards increasingly mechanized, large-scale commercial farming and the complex impact this has had for rural lands. Land/Line explores our contemporary landscapes and the social values, economics, and changing technologies that have shaped them, themes that are prominent in a diversity of research and teaching programs at the University of Guelph as well as the Art Gallery of Guelphโ€™s ongoing Land Studio program, currently featuring Phoenix-based artist Matthew Moore whose socially-engaged art practice focuses on farming and food activism through community-engaged practice.

The Common Collective includes Simon Brothers (cinematography, video editing, tech support), Luke Mistruzzi (cinematography, animation, tech design), Nick Kuepfer (sound design, composition, sound installation technologies), Mark Preston (video editing, animation, set design), Jeremy Cox (building, set design, tech, installation design, tech design), and Jim Ruxton (technical advisor). The collective is grateful for the support of the Ontario Arts Council in the development of this project.

This project is organized by the Art Gallery of Guelph with the support of the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.