The machine is a working system that functions to facilitate human life. As we influence machines through production they reciprocate by informing and influencing our daily lives. In the 1970s OCA (now OCAD University) was a catalyst in the development of new media and electronic art through the Photo Electric Arts Department. The students and faculty have employed an aesthetic that transcends time and unifies the work of students, professors and alumni from the 1970s until today. Influenc(Ed.) Machines celebrates a do-it-yourself mechanical aesthetic and a sense of liveliness inherent in the machine or mechanical object. The themes of this exhibition are inspired by Caroline Langill's seminal research into the early days of new media art in Toronto emerging in the 1970s. Influenc(Ed.) Machines has been curated by the students of Professor Jennifer Rudder’s class Criticism and Curatorial Practice: International Collaboration Studio; Robin Goldberg, Matt Kyba, Kate Murfin, Tak Pham, Treva Michelle Legassie, and Renée Stephens.
The exhibition Influenc(Ed.) Machines encompasses work spanning the period between the 1970s to today that have been produced at or by OCAD (OCA) faculty and students from the present and past. The works of Doug Back, Judith Doyle, Kate Hartman, Layne Hinton, Michael Page and Norman White represent a spirit of humanness as they move, project and engage with the viewer. Accompanying the work is ephemera that offers a visual narrative of the lives of such objects and the process of their creation and function. Influenc(Ed.) Machines borrows and subverts the title of the landmark exhibition curated by Jeanne Randolph for YYZ Artists' Outlet in 1984, Influencing Machines, in order to unpack a new relationship of machines to human subjects. The machine has agency and is influenced by the artist as much as the artist is influenced by it.