An “Open Platform” of Featured Artworks and Special Projects

Co-curated by Vince Dziekan and Kate Hennessy

About MWX2018 Vancouver

Museums and the Web has a long standing reputation as the leading international forum for museum professionals in the field of museum technology and its annual conference provides an important forum for tracking the latest digital advancements taking place across the cultural heritage sector. Until recently, those presentations have been supported by a traditional conference format, focusing on academic papers and presentations. Inaugurated in 2013, MWX provides an alternative platform for highlighting the state-of-the-art, by showcasing emerging and innovative practices by artists using creative technology through exhibition and other modes of engagement. The aim of MWX is to be inspired by and learn from work by artists using digital tools, platforms, and emerging cultural practices in creative and critically challenging ways.

This year’s instalment of MWX extends an invitation to artists and audiences alike to consider the ways and means by which cultural histories and heritage can (re)generate the shape of the future.

Co-curated by Vince Dziekan and Kate Hennessy, the curatorial programme of MWX2018 Vancouver has been designed to function as an “open platform” featuring artworks and specially commissioned projects that demonstrate de-institutionalizing practices (artistic, interpretive, collaborative) centered around themes of cultural agency and digital equity.

This ambitious program will intersect with the main conference program and occur at different times and places throughout the conference – opening at the Vancouver Art Gallery and continuing over the three-days of the conference at the Sheraton Wall Center. MWX2018 Vancouver has been realized in association with the Vancouver Art Gallery, Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology, and
Emily Carr University of Art & Design.

Acknowledgements: The curators wish to acknowledge the generous contribution made by the contributing artists, designers, educators and students towards this year’s MWX exhibition. Their committed involvement is an inspiring testament to how perspective on our historical and contemporary position can be gained by learning together–critically and creatively– at the cultural interface that exists between Western and Indigenous knowledge systems. We recognize and acknowledge, in turn, that this exhibition and conference is being convened on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.


In the thick of it –
A Curatorial “Underview” of MWX2018 VANCOUVER

Vince Dziekan & Kate Hennessy

“Cultural history is not the record of a merely fortuitous sequence of events… Ultimately we must have recourse to the dynamic, human agents whose creative inventions and insights as well as persevering determination is the source of all cultural processes.”
– David Bidney, Human Nature and the Cultural Process (1947)

“Within Indigenous contexts, contexts that are never properly ‘post-colonial,’ the sovereignty of the people we speak of, when speaking for themselves, interrupt anthropological portraits of timelessness, procedure and function that dominate representations of their past and, sometimes, their present.”

– Audra Simpson, Ethnographic Refusal: Indigeneity, ‘Voice’ and Colonial Citizenship (2007)

Human culture manifests itself in systems of artifacts, social institutions and their symbolic forms of expression. Exhibition display, wall labels and didactic panels, the artist interview and the catalogue essay, all serve as stages that perform the curatorial (Lind 2012). As contributing parts of a discursive system, the act of curating becomes implicitly concerned with the effect of its own agency upon how we come to know the world and produce, communicate, circulate and share cultural knowledge with others within it.

In an analogous way to how an open platform in computing describes a software system based on open standards, the curatorial programme of MWX2018 VANCOUVER has been designed to accommodate a series of open-ended engagements that foreground the complexity of cross-cultural communication. Inspired by ecomuseology, critical heritage studies and cultural theory thinking, the museum has become a critically reflexive space. While the exhibition itself –re-imagined as an itinerary, a set of mobile and itinerant departures– serves as a sort of juncture that interconnects and channels different ways of knowing; and that, by doing so, carries along the promise for opening up spaces of meaning-making that function somewhere between theory and practice, reflective analysis and action.

The exhibited artworks and specially commissioned projects that comprise this year’s instalment of MWX demonstrate de-institutionalizing practices (artistic, interpretive, collaborative) centered around themes of cultural content and digital equity. As “event-structures”, they introduce ways of thinking about cross-cultural transformation and the emergent potential of collaborative, co-creative methods of knowledge production. In contrast to highly abstracted and authoritative forms of knowledge built upon empirical observation and claims of objective neutrality, this approach embraces forms of knowing performed through processes ‘grounded in active, intimate, hands-on participation and personal connection: “knowing how,” and “knowing who”’ (Conquergood 2002, p. 146).

In Vancouver, these dynamic relationships are exemplified in a number of distinctive ways. Mirjana Prpa, Kıvanç Tatar and Philippe Pasquier’s immersive VR work Respire relies on the user’s breath and biosensory response to generate a co-created experience. Heiltsuk artist Shawn Hunt’s “state-of-the-art” collaboration with Microsoft challenges understanding of technological and cultural realities at the “cultural interface”, the contested space that exists between Western and Indigenous knowledge systems (Nakata 2007). The Museum of Vancouver’s Haida Now exhibition provides a transformative example of Indigenous curation and relationship building with Vancouver’s urban Haida community, leading up to the repatriation of cultural property to the Haida Gwaii Museum on BC’s north coast. Short documentaries featuring Haida artists and visionaries such as Jim Hart, Corey Bulpitt, and Miles Richardson were created by students at Simon Fraser University under mentorship of the curators to document the historic reconnection of Haida people with their cultural belongings. The associated ‘Repatriation Monologues’ public event at the Museum of Vancouver presents an opportunity for extending these conversations beyond the Museums and the Web conference. Illustratively, these projects amplify different types of relationships that exist –and can still be brought into existence– between museums and communities, including “source communities” (Peers and Brown 2007).

By coming together as an “open platform”, we hope that an engaging and interactive space is carved out within the conference where issues of cultural authority and decolonization can be freely explored and discussed. By inviting artists and audiences to speak for themselves, the featured artworks and participatory events instigate –in both direct and more open-ended, speculative and experiential ways– active process of “looking at”, “reading through” and (perhaps most radically) “making with” cultural representation. Departing from conventional protocols of display in order to better perform the practices of artists, designers, creative technologists, educators, researchers and students that find themselves congregating at the “cultural interface”, MWX2018 VANCOUVER prompts us to consider how cultural history and heritage can be (re)generated to shape new visions for our shared future.


Transformation Mask

Thursday, 19 April 2018, Exhibitors’ Reception @ MW Conference, Sheraton Wall Center
6:25pm – 8:30pm, Pavilion Ballroom

Shawn Hunt’s Transformation Mask marks a new trajectory for engagement and exploration of First Nations practice. Taking a step away from his recognized engagement with the handmade, the Heiltsuk artist created this interactive installation by using the Microsoft HoloLens to absorb the viewer in a holographic mixed reality experience of technology, sound and space. The piece appropriates the traditional aspects of metamorphosis (the transformation of the Raven and human) to point towards technology and innovation as aspects that expand traditional practices and open new avenues for engagement and interpretation.

Resulting from a collaboration between the artist and designers and engineers from Microsoft Vancouver’s in-house maker space, The Garage, Transformation Mask was first unveiled on June 30, 2017 at the Vancouver Art Gallery as part of FUSE: 2167.

Shawn Hunt was born in Vancouver Canada in 1975. He is an artist of Heiltsuk, French and Scottish ancestry. Coming from a family of artists (his father, Bradley Hunt, is a prominent Heiltsuk artist), Shawn’s work takes on a complexity of influence from both his training in traditional Heiltsuk design, wood carving, jewelry carving and painting and his engagement with contemporary questions of subversion, preconception and fluid meanings. From 2012-2015, he undertook an apprenticeship with Coast Salish painter Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, whose own interactive virtual reality environment, Inherent Rights, Vision Rights (1991-92), is recognized as the first VR artwork shown at the National Gallery of Canada.

Shawn Hunt is represented by Macaulay & Co. Fine Art, Vancouver; For more information, see:


Wednesday, 18 April 2018, Opening Reception @ Vancouver Art Gallery, 6:30-9:00

Respire (2018) combines an Immersive Virtual Reality (VR), and biosensing of breathing with a Musical AI system to generate an affective sensory environment from breathing patterns. Built upon mindfulness principles, the piece refocuses the user’s attention to their own breathing to create a reconnection with rich embodied experience that is often lost in our interaction with new and emerging technologies.

Mirjana Prpa, Kıvanç Tatar and Philippe Pasquier started collaborating in 2016. A shared interest in Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and art brought them together. Their collaborative research explores how embodied interaction brings the user’s focus back to lived experience. Their work with emerging technologies also draws upon principles of Musical Metacreation to create soundscapes that are produced from an ongoing exchange between living (human user) and artificial entities. Mirjana and Kıvanç are PhD students in the School of Interactive Arts+Technology (SIAT), and Philippe Pasquier is Professor and director of the Metaceation lab at SIAT, Simon Fraser University.

Visit for more information.

Respire (2018) from VANDOCUMENT on Vimeo.


Interpretive Media Documenting Haida Now at the Museum of Vancouver

Produced by Kate Hennessy and Aynur Kadir with students from Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology, in collaboration with curators Kwiaahwah Jones and Viviane Gosselin, Museum of Vancouver

In the Fall of 2017, students from Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology were honored to collaborate with curators Kwiaahwah Jones and Viviane Gosselin to produce seven short documentaries featuring local Haida artists for installation in the exhibition Haida Now: A Visual Feast of Innovation and Tradition, which runs from March 16th 2018 at the Museum of Vancouver. The videos show Haida artists and visionaries Corey Bulpitt, Jim Hart, Merle Wililams, Isabel Rorick, Evelynn Vanderhoop, Myles Richardson, Latash-Maurice Nahanee, and Kwiaahwah Jones sharing knowledge of the art works in the exhibition and reflecting on the role of museums in the reconciliation movement.

“Haida Now is a glimpse into the Haida Nation’s artistic and cultural legacy that we continue to write. These are the stories we can use to help build better relationships for the future, and create a greater cross-cultural understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.” Kwiaahwah Jones, Guest Curator, Haida Now.

Acutely aware of the role public institutions have played in upholding colonial power and of colonialism’s devastating impact on First Nations, the Museum of Vancouver, alongside other museums across the country, is invested in repairing and renewing relationships with First Nations. This means revisiting how we collect, let go, interpret and display collections of Indigenous belongings. It means treasuring relationships with individuals and communities over objects.

A collaboration with the School of Interactive Arts + Technology (SIAT) at Simon Fraser University helped the museum document the building of new relationships between members of the Haida community and MOV. Students produced a series of short documentaries for inclusion in the exhibition. They largely feature visits by Haida artists, performers and scholars at the museum where they met the curatorial team and reconnected with the collection of Haida works. A few other interviews speak to the long-lasting relationship between the Haida, the local host nations and the city.

–Viviane Gosselin, Director of Collections and Exhibition at MOV

Institutional collaborators: Kwiwaah Jones, Viviane Gosselin, and Sharon Fortney

Student Producers: Aynur Kadir, Sumeet Kaur Anand, Joyce Caroline Aquino, Minsi Chen, Jin Du, Dawn Li, Salathiel Wells, Quinn MacDonald, Mike Hofer, Jessica Fan, Alex Fung, Eric Cheng, Gordon Huang, David Yeung, Ricky Chen, Snow Liu, Wendy Parng, Yu-Chieh Tseng, Brandon Hoare, Bohan Li, Mengran Song, Reese Muntean, Jay Tseng

Video Gallery

Memory Institutions in a Digital Age: Provocations for the Future

Coordinated by Hannah Turner with students from the Centre For Digital Media at Simon Fraser University

As part of the Spring 2018 course at the Centre For Digital Media called “Museums and Art Galleries in a Digital Age” students interviewed five local institutions about the issues, challenges, and opportunities of digital technologies and made five short films of these interviews. The questions raised by the students explore the histories and theory of memory institutions, and the shifts enacted by the use of new media to organize and exhibit physical and digital collections. From the digital preservation of archival collections, to the use of digital storytelling platforms in libraries, to the display and preservation of new media art in galleries; these short interviews highlight the individuals who are doing important work in the local community on a daily basis.

In addition to screening the resulting video interviews at the conference, an interview studio was set up as part of the MWX OPEN PLATFORM where conference attendees were invited to shed light on issues they are experiencing in the digital museum field. Provocations for the future include questions such as:

  1. Are Augmented and Virtual Reality enhanced museum experiences here to stay?
  2. What are public libraries doing in the digital age to engage their communities?
  3. What does community engagement mean for art archives now?
  4. Does digitization improve access for Indigenous communities?
  5. how does a New Media gallery curate and exhibit Art that is alive?

See all of the videos we recorded here!

Institutional Collaborators: Hanna Cho (NGX Interactive); Sarah Joyce and Gordon Duggan (New Media Gallery); Gerry Lawson (Indigitization, Museum of Anthropology, UBC); Dan Pon (Grunt Gallery); Cecily Walker (Vancouver Public Library)

Master’s Student Facilitators: John Bondoc, Sherlaine Lau, Nancy Kwong, Julie Puech (Centre for Digital Media); Darren DeCoursey; Emily Leischner (University of British Columbia); Maggie Poirier (Simon Fraser University)

Mitja Jakaipianen, Finnish National Gallery, Finland from Kate Hennessy on Vimeo.

Video Gallery

When is a Museum?

Coordinated by Gillian Russell with Pete Fung and Samein Shamsher, and Nova Olson (Emily Carr University of Art & Design)

When is a Museum? 
Studio work, exhibition and performance
When is a Museum invites you to bring in a personal object and tell us its story. From treasures to trinkets each item will be temporarily collected, archived and reproduced as part of the collection, honouring the personal and the everyday. 
While exploring how a museum can be collectively imagined, performed and discussed, the mobile museum will travel to various locations throughout the conference, gathering stories and objects while inviting visitors to watch as selected artifacts are recorded and reproduced gaining new significance as souvenirs. 
Once the museum is dismantled, participants can recover their objects with the added option to pick up a museum shop exclusive inspired by the temporary collections and created in collaboration with local designers.

See documentation of the project outcome at

When is a Museum will be collecting your objects and stories (you will get them back!):

Wednesday April 18th             VANCOUVER ART GALLERY
7:00pm – 9:00pm

Thursday April 19th                 MWX, Sheraton Wall Centre
11:00am – 3:00pm

Friday April 20th                     MWX, Sheraton Wall Centre
10:00am – 3:00pm

Saturday April 21st               MWX (Objects returned and Souvenirs for pick up)
9:00am – 12:00pm

Samien Shamsher and Pete Fung’s studio practice spans formats and scales from the domestic and public realm, images, objects, spaces and exchanges. Their work investigates through real life projects, the shifting roles of the designer in complex social systems while crafting experiences that generate topical conversations and engaging diverse communities. Since 2015, the duo has worked with Centre A, Living Oceans, Discourse Media, Vancouver Public Library, and Simon Fraser University. Produced in partnership with Gillian Russell.


Thursday MWX Afternoon and Evening Special Events 

1. MWX Session: Presentations about the MW18 exhibition, MWX18, by the artists and curators.
Thursday, April 19, 2018: 2:00pm – 3:20pm
Sheraton Wall Centre, Parksville Room

This session will provide an overview of MWX2018 VANCOUVER and include a panel discussion with contributing artists and invited commentators from local institutions that will respond to important issues relating to digital cultural heritage, cultural citizenship and Indigenous knowledge. The panel will feature presentations by Shawn Hunt (rep.Macaulay & Co. Fine Art), Philippe Pasquier (SFU), Kwiiahwah Jones (Museum of Vancouver), Ashlee Conery (Vancouver Art Gallery), and cheyanne turions (Vancouver Art Gallery), with Vince Dzeikan (Monash U) and Kate Hennessy (SFU).

Human culture manifests itself in systems of artifacts, social institutions and their symbolic forms of expression. Over the past five years, MWX has complemented the main program of the Museum and the Web conference by exhibiting “state of the art” practices of artists pushing the boundaries of new technology. Departing from conventional protocols of exhibition, this year’s instalment extends an invitation to artists and audiences alike to consider how cultural history and heritage can be (re)generated to shape the future. The curatorial programme of MWX2018 VANCOUVER –developed by Vince Dziekan and Kate Hennessy– has been designed to accommodate a series of open-ended engagements for exploring the museum as a space that foregrounds the complexity of cross-cultural communication. The exhibited artworks and specially commissioned projects will demonstrate de-institutionalizing practices (artistic, interpretive, collaborative) centered around themes of cultural content and digital equity. Through composing an engaging and interactive “open platform”, we hope to carve out a space within the conference where the contested issue of cultural authority and “decolonization” can be openly explored and discussed.

Acknowledgments – We wish to acknowledge the generous contribution made by the contributing artists, designers, educators and students towards this year’s MWX exhibition. We recognize and acknowledge, in turn, that this exhibition and conference is being convened on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Bidney, D. (1947). Human Nature and the Cultural Process. American Anthropologist. Vol. 49 No. 3, July-September 1947, pp. 375-399.

Lind, M. (2012). Performing the Curatorial: Within and Beyond Art. Berlin: Sternberg Press.

2. Repatriation Monologues: Panel Discussion
Thursday, April 19th, Museum of Vancouver, 7:00-8:30 (Purchase Tickets here)

Join us for our upcoming panel discussion exploring the changing perspectives in museum curatorial practices with respect to repatriation and reconciliation. Moderated by Kate Hennessy (SFU), panelists Lucy Bell (RBCM), Sharon Fortney (MOV), Kwiaahwah Jones (Guest Haida Curator for Haida Now), and Bruce Granville Miller (UBC) will share stories and engage in conversation around the importance of repatriating ancestral belongings and intellectual property to Indigenous communities. Panelists will explore possible strategies and unanswered questions, including addressing the relationship between technology and museums, and the role that digital experiences play in facilitating repatriation — in an effort to address how museums can become better places in the future for communities to share knowledge.

Date: Thursday, April 19

Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Admission: $14 Early Bird, $19 General Admission, Free to MOV Members & individuals who self-identify as Indigenous

**Early Bird ticket sales end April 18th at 5pm.

Note: Event ticket includes FREE admission to Haida Now (reg. $19). Please arrive early with your event ticket to view the exhibit.


The curators wish to acknowledge the support of Museums and the Web, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Olson Visual and the Australia Council for the Arts; and their respective institutional affiliations with Monash University and Simon Fraser University.