David Rokeby: Very Nervous System

January 4 to April 6, 2014


David Rokeby, Very Nervous System (1986-2004), Video camera, computer, custom software. Collection of Carleton University Art Gallery: Purchased in 2009 with assistance from the Friends of the Art Gallery, the Elizabeth L. Gordon Art Programme and the Canada Council for the Arts. Photographs courtesy of the artist.


Very Nervous System is an interactive sound piece that is triggered by the gallery visitor’s body movements. It was created by nationally recognized David Rokeby in 1986 and underwent re-inventions using more recent technologies, winding up in its current form in 2004. When people enter the interactive area of the gallery space (delineated by a spot-lit section on the floor) they will soon realize that sounds coming from two speakers in the room are caused by their own movements. Thus visitors experience the work each in their own way, and will create their own unique sound pieces. Rather than their bodies moving to music, visitors create sounds by moving their bodies. This inversion is termed a “transforming mirror” by the artist.

David Rokeby has been a leading-edge new media artist based in Toronto for three decades. He was winner of the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2002. Rokeby represented Canada at the Sao Paulo Biennial in 2004.

The exhibition has been curated by music composer and Carleton University professor Jesse Stewart. It is organized and circulated by the Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa.


Opening reception
Friday, January 10, 2014, 7 to 9 pm
This is a free event, open to members and guests by invitation.

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