Annie Briard’s work explores the fragility of the real. Although the world we experience may give the illusion of being fixed, objective, impartial, it’s more fallible than that, an image painted impressionistically by the senses. It’s in this ambiguity that Briard finds inspiration – vision, perception, and where they diverge, in the form of hallucination or illusion. She works in video, photography, and installation to create works that explore how we construct our own reality, all with the hazy aura of a fading memory. 

Burrard Arts Foundation: Can you tell us a bit about your artistic practice and background?

Annie Briard: My practice stems from a curiosity with the process of visual perception. It’s focused on how vision shapes our understanding of the world, and by extension, of each other. The work I make tends to begin with video, taking different forms like moving images, light-based installations and photography, and has incorporated interactivity and public art. Lately, I’ve been digging up obscure perception theories which I’m comparing with findings in psychology and neuroscience, making images that play with how we see. For example, “Staring at the Sun” is an installation I presented in Montreal recently that used base tone vibrations and bright light to enable viewers to perceive “chimeric colors” – colors that aren’t physically there. Other works, like my 3D constructed images, seem more representationally based at first glance, but then offer different viewing possibilities that can make the representation seem more tangible than the referent image. I’ve been developing this research as a visual artist for several years, the last six of which I’ve spent in Vancouver, which I moved to from Montreal to complete an MFA.

BAF: Describe your project for Façade Fest 2017.

AB: For the festival, I wanted to bring in the idea of visible scales. Because of the monumental canvas offered by the VAG’s northern façade, and since the medium is video/ light-based, I created a piece that explores our perception of light and that pulls it apart into its visible composants – the visible spectrum of seven colors. The work begins with this idea of a prismatic scale to build the work through captured and simulated footage, analogue and digital video effects, altering the façade. Because I’m interested not only in physical vision but in its intersection with the imaginary, the scenes also bring in abstractions associated with psychedelia, visual phenomena and optical illusion. I haven’t worked with sound in a long time, but was interested in the idea of translating the visible spectrum to the musical scale, so the soundtrack – which I’m in the process of building as we speak – will riff off those ideas.

BAF: Have you ever worked in video art or projection mapping before? To what extent was working with this technology a new experience for you?

AB: Since video art is central to my work, this project fit in well with my trajectory. That said, I tend to favour more low-fi ways of working with video, like analogue or handmade techniques that come out of the stop-motion animation I did earlier in my practice, or ways of playing with the lens and editing as opposed to more technical shoots. So working in such a high resolution and at such a massive scale is new for me, and something I’m excited about. My invitation to participate in Façade Fest came at a serendipitous time because I was in the early stages of new projects that required projection mapping and I was considering how best to get into it. The team at Go2 Productions have been great at facilitating that.


BAF: Is your Façade idea an entirely new project or are you further developing existing themes?

AB: I developed a new work that links back primarily to a body of work I created last year during an art residency in Spain. For my Façade Fest piece, I shot video of the Vancouver Art Gallery with prisms from old optical apparatuses, and also generated some simulated imagery analyzing the visible colour spectrum, and video based effects important in my practice, like mise en abime.

BAF: Your work will be projected over the entire façade of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Have you ever worked in such a large scale before? What has been exciting, and challenging, about the process?

AB: The largest works I’ve made recently include a public art billboard and a projection in a city square. The façade of the VAG dwarfs those, and I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to produce work at that scale for the public in my own city. The challenges have included needing to alter my initial plans, which incorporated more photography of the façade and visual alterations, but weren’t possible due to the construction this spring/summer. I think obstructions can be beneficial to the creative process though, so the work developed in a less scripted, more exploratory way. I also considered how to best develop my concept while also keeping it simple enough that someone not seeing the work from start to finish could still have a generative experience. I look forward to watching the work in its final scale alongside the public!

See Annie Briard’s projection mapped artwork in Façade Festival 2017 – it will be shown from 7:30PM to Midnight on Friday, September 8th, as well as in the encore presentations on September 9th and 10th.