"Search Engine at the Esplanade Art Gallery" (2007):


(Essay © Joanne Marion, curator: Esplanade Art Gallery)


From April 27 to June 17 the Esplanade Art Gallery presents vibrant new oil paintings on canvas by Burnaby, BC artist Lisa Birke. Search Engine continues Birke's energetic, humorous and biting explorations into our popular culture, social norms and attitudes. Here, Birke presents the teeming, often bewildering digital environment and its impact upon us and upon our world.

The paintings in Search Engine are based on a plethora of images derived from Birke's internet researches via the popular search engine Google. Searching for common phrases and concepts which do not have any universal visual corollary such as 'beauty is skin deep', or 'a wolf in sheep's clothing', Birke obtained image results which are diverse, frequently bizarre and seemingly limitless. Her expressive, visceral paintings incorporate selected imagery into a highly coloured, densely populated and turbulent universe, one filled to overflowing with irony, tragedy, horror, and beauty.

The canvases are connected with computer cables and electronic parts, supplemented by keyboard sculptural elements and augmented by wry appearances of mice and mouse components. All serve to create an installation environment characterized by a sense of total immersion and entanglement in the furious, teeming, overwhelming energy of the digital world, a veritable Pandora's box available at the touch of a key.

all content © Lisa Birke 2015