An image from Jim Bizzocchi’s “Ambient Landscapes” video exhibit at Surrey Art Gallery. (submitted photo)

‘Ambient Landscapes’ merges nature with technology for show at Surrey Art Gallery

Jim Bizzocchi’s ambient video is ‘video intended to play on the walls in the backgrounds of our lives’

SURREY — The majesty of nature meets the power of technology at Surrey Art Gallery in an “Ambient Landscapes” exhibit featuring the work of artist Jim Bizzocchi.

Until Aug. 5, outdoor scenes can be viewed across a series of screens in Bizzocchi’s video work, which draws on his travels along the coast of B.C. and through the Canadian Rockies.

His multimedia installation, in the gallery lobby area, combines photography, video and computer technology to generate moving landscape imagery, with the use of video layering and image manipulation.

Bizzocchi, who lives in Burnaby, transforms these landscapes, allowing mountains, trees, rivers, snow, ice and rock formations to emerge and dissolve in a state of constant evolution.

Ambient video is “video intended to play on the walls in the backgrounds of our lives,” according to a post on Bizzocchi’s website (ambientvideo.org).

“In the spirit of Brian Eno’s ‘ambient music,’ Ambient Video must be, as Eno says, ‘as easy to ignore as it is to notice,’” he writes. “For my own work, I expand Eno’s dictum to three interrelated criteria that I want my own ambient video art to meet. First, it must not require your attention at any time. Second, whenever you do look at it, it must reward your attention with visual interest. Finally, because ambient pieces are designed to play repeatedly in our homes, offices and public spaces, they must continue to provide visual pleasure over repeated viewings.”

CLICK HERE to see video of Bizzocchi’s work.

Bizzocchi, an associate professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University, says the most well-known ambient video trope is the venerable “yule log,” which has been burning in video screens on television sets since its introduction at WPIX New York in 1966.

Unlike conventional television or cinema, ambient video rejects narrative, according to curators with Surrey Art Gallery.

“Instead, the artist chooses to focus on the minutiae of perception such as light, shadow, texture and movement. Computer software spontaneously generates the images you see on the screens, meaning that no two play-throughs are the same.

“Every visitor to Surrey Art Gallery will encounter the installation in a unique way. This software uses an algorithm to identify overlapping patterns across different images, allowing them to blend smoothly with each other. Another computer algorithm generates an accompanying soundtrack, which, combined with the tranquility of the images, elicits a relaxed viewing experience.”

Bizzocchi has worked in Surrey since the days of TechBC – the Technical University of British Columbia, the predecessor to SFU Surrey.

“I started in 2000,” he told the Now-Leader. “You can say I’ve been happy to work in Surrey – and Whalley – since the beginning of the century.”

Bizzocchi will discuss his “Ambient Landscapes” work, among other topics, during a public event at Surrey Art Gallery on June 2, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. The gallery is located at 13750 88th Ave., at Bear Creek Park. For details, call 604-501-5566 or visit surrey.ca/artgallery.

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