Peopled by the Unknown

Susan Dobson, Simulcast, still from single channel video, 2012

Matt Macintosh, Subject 2, inkjet print, 2012

Icon Device, installation view at G44, photo by Morris Lum

Icon Device, installation view at G44, photo by Morris Lum

Simulcast, installation view at G44, photo by Morris Lum

Peopled by the Unknown

Friday, September 13, 2013 to Saturday, October 12, 2013
September 13,
6:00PM to 8:00PM
About the Exhibition: 

This exhibition pairs Susan Dobson’s 2012 video work Simulcast, with Icon Device, a new series of photographs by Matt Macintosh. Each artist uses WWII era archival materials to create layered conceptual pieces. At the (unseen) margins of both artists’ works is a subject peopled by the unknown.


The video Simulcast was inspired by a lecture Dobson heard in Mexico City in 2005. Anthony Bannon, Director of George Eastman House, discussed photographic history and its evolution into digital and time-based media. He likened the uncertainty of what might come next for the medium to driving in a car late at night, with the headlights illuminating only a tiny strip of pavement at a time. The video footage, produced seven years later, was captured through the windshield of a moving car on paved and unpaved roads late at night. The only illumination comes from the car’s headlights and the occasional farmhouse or passing car. The visual is primarily black and white, and the camera remains stationary so that the windshield operates as a framing device. The audio component is an edited and condensed version of Orson Welles’ famous 1938 radio broadcast War of the Worlds, a dramatization of H.G. Wells’ novel in which aliens invade earth. Breaking news, bulletins, and interviews by scientists and eyewitnesses periodically interrupt what sounds like a regularly scheduled broadcast of dance music, lending the dramatization an air of veracity; so much so that the original broadcast was the cause of considerable panic. The crackling, analogue radio broadcast and the hypnotic rhythm and isolation of the car driving in darkness set the mood for the compelling narrative and facilitate imaginary projections -was that flickering light in the sky a plane, or was it a crashing meteorite? The loud digitized and disembodied voice of a GPS device, however, interrupts repeatedly, jolting the viewer back to the present. The two audio tracks refer to both past and present, questioning the veracity or absolute certainty of any information or technology.

Icon Device

This set of images takes away the object of people's work to reveal the type of attention we give to objects. In the case of posed documentary photographs of women producing medicine and munitions during WWII, it is the same attention that is appropriated by propagandistic and religious imagery. Macintosh is interested in the liberating value of images that show "rapture" that is aware it is being watched.

Essay by Francisco-Fernando Granados:

 Exhibition Essay - Peopled by the Unknown (pdf).pdf

File Suspending Frames of War with Susan Dobson, Matt Macintosh, Joyce Lau, moderated by Francisco-Fernando Granados

Artist Biography: 

Susan Dobson is an artist and educator based in Guelph. Her photographs have been exhibited in numerous countries and in photography festivals such as CONTACT (Toronto), Fotoseptiembre (Mexico City), Le Mois de la Photo (Montreal), Bitume/Bitumen (Brussels), and FotoNoviembre (Canary Islands). Her work was included in the 2012 Canadian Biennial Builders at the National Gallery of Canada, and in 2010 she was a contributing artist to the Vancouver Cultural Olympiad. Dobson is Associate Professor at the University of Guelph.

Matt Macintosh is an interdisciplinary artist interested in the ways models of personal emancipation fold into knowledge. Rooted in painting and conceptual art traditions, his practice explores abstraction as a method to re–organize encounters between disciplinary knowledge and identity development.

He is a graduate of the Master of Visual Studies program at the University of Toronto and has exhibited in Canada and the U.S.


Francisco-Fernando Granados is a Guatemalan-born, Toronto-based artist, writer, curator and educator. He has performed and exhibited nationally and internationally in galleries, museums and artist-run spaces including the Vancouver Art Gallery, Darling Foundry (Montreal), Ex Teresa Arte Actual (Mexico City), and the University of the Arts (Helsinki). His performative talks have been presented at The Hessel Museum (New York) and The Power Plant (Toronto). Curatorial projects include performance programs for the LIVE Biennial of Performance Art (Vancouver) and FADO (Toronto). He currently works as a sessional faculty member at OCAD University and the University of Toronto Scarborough.