Artist – Jenn E. Norton

Jenn E. Norton is a
Canadian artist currently at La Cité internationale des
, in Paris, France. Working with interdisciplinary
media including video, installation, sound and kinetic
sculpture, Norton produces performative, critically engaged,
works that play with the elastic qualities of digital
technologies. Norton’s practice is imaginative, kindled by
working intimately with technology in a DIY capacity,
marrying intuitive and formal processes.  In this, her
practice employs a personal approach to formal
explorations.  While her cast may be her cats, household
objects or multiple versions of herself, she presents small
moments that derive from her immediate experience to point to
a larger context.

What part of Canada are you from

Currently, I am not living in Canada, but
these days I consider Guelph, Ontario, my home base.  I
was born in Oshawa and attended the Ontario College of Art and Design
in Toronto, where I lived and worked until 2010.

Tesseract: 3D Interactive Video Installation

Fox Sister

What role do you play in the creation of

I work alone, so I guess I play all the roles I can muster,
using 3d animation programs like Cinema 4D and compositing
with After Effects and create soundtracks using a bit of

What is one project that you are proud to
have been involved in?

My current exhibition at the Art Gallery of
Hamilton incorporates a lot of computer generated imagery,
sculpture,  and
live action footage to address the shifting archival
processes of analogue and digital documents.  In the
main space of the exhibition, there are four large
projections on each wall of the room.   

Precipice – 2014

The projection is of a large archive,
black and glossy, that is submerged in water.  A lone
swimmer, presumably an archivist, moves about the archive, as
film strips ripple past her, flowing from a 16mm reel of an
unmoving projector.  Storage boxes move in the current,
floating amongst cassette tapes, CDs, papers
office stationary.  The four projections
give a truncated panoramic view of the space, and pans as
though shot from a tripod position in the centre of the large
room, causing a vertiginous sensation as the submerged
archive slowly rotates about the viewer.   In the centre
of the room is a cylindrical screen structure illuminated by
four additional projectors.  Underwater
footage of the floating debris from the archive (the office
stationary, cassettes, CD
s, files and legal storage boxes) are rear projected on the
8′ tall structure.  Viewers enter this space through a
4′ entrance, revealing the 
cylinder is in fact a spiral.
 An old office chair, illuminated with
a single 
incandescent light, sits in the centre of the space.  
When the viewer sits on the chair it begins to slowly
rotate.  This rotation directs the viewer’s gaze to
follow the projection of a
nother fully dressed
swimmer, who has swum into the scene, as he traverses the
length of the spiral.  This video is only activated when
a viewer sits in the chair.  The floating
objects he swims through, eddy in his wake, catch up with
him, and obscure the swimmer until he is completely lost in
the whirl.  This is one of three installations in the
exhibition.  One of the other installations is
stereoscopic, and plays stereoscopic imagery of water with
reflections and refractions.  

What inspired you to create

I have an insatiable appetite for looking at
animation, and draw tremendous inspiration from other
artists, but maybe I will focus on how animation crept up on
me as a creative impulse. 
Recently, I packed up my apartment to move to France for
an artist residency and in deciding what to discard or spare,
I had a chance to review my old notes, drawings and other
musings.  I particularly enjoyed seeing my old school
work, and felt at once a sense of sympathy for my young self,
and affirmation for my vocation.  I was a horrible
student – but such a prolific daydreamer!  The ledgers
of my textbooks, exams and homework assignments were
illustrated with fantastical cartoonish drawings.  The
negative spaces of texts were inhabited with mercurial,
morphing creatures and objects, that appeared to pour
themselves into one another.  Although I am certain I
did not know who these animators were, there was an Oskar
Fischinger meets Max Fleischer quality to the drawings,
a transformative technique that I am still drawn
to.  These imaginings seemed to be about the moment
of change, the in between, when something is no longer what
it once was, but not yet what it will become.  To me,
these graphite moments were not static, but were animated via
their liminality.

Sometimes the characters/creatures would
address the printed text on the page, a reaction to the
content.   Examples that come to mind are the absurdly
overbuilt cartoonish architectures I drew, that served as
structural supports to the weight of mathematical equations,
or charts.  I can only assume this addressed my ability
or inability to answer a question, based on what state the
integrity of the respective structure was; robust,
precarious, or crumbling.  These illustrations were
diagrams of discernment, how I rolled an idea over in my head
and then manifested it visually on paper.  

Video was something that I had experimented
with from a very early age, and used it for a diary, to enact
narratives, make goofy instructional videos, to document, and
to allow the impossible to occur through pixillation, like
every kid with a camera. It seemed inevitable that
drawing and video would somehow come together for
me. What remains today in my work as an artist, is how
liminal states function as a point of conceptual
rumination.  Animation occurs with the persistence of
vision, the in-between moments in a series of still images –
I guess I am inspired by the in between. 

No Place Thistle – 2012

Who is one of your favourite Canadian

I can’t just pick one!

What is one of your favourite animation

The Sharpest Point: Animation at the End of Cinema, by Chris
Gehman, Edited by Steve Reinke.

Who is a relatively unknown Canadian
animator that everyone should check out?

I wouldn’t describe these artists, who are all
multidisciplinary and enviably prolific, as unknown, but I
list them because I can’t wait to see what they will do with
their animations as they develop their ever growing body of

Are you involved with any animation
organizations in Canada?

To see more work from Jenn E. Norton, check out these

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