Reid Shier: Glow House #3 (exhibition brochure) The Power Plant. April 2005

Kelly Mark’s Glow House #3 is a project set in a Toronto residence, a typical detached urban house, where a number of television sets have been distributed throughout the interior. All the televisions are tuned to the same channel, and when the house is viewed from the street at night, the effect of each small flicker of light from every CRT is compounded, together becoming a vivid “pulse” of light emanating from its windows. As the television program scenes change, the windows flash in sync, and the pronounced hypnotic effect grows with the sensation that the house interior may be filled not with many lights but with one large, palpitating source.

Mark’s ambitious installation is characteristic of her works in a variety of media that employ commonplace items in subtle, imaginative acts of redisplay. The compelling effect of many of the artist’s projects grows from her continuing fascination with and attention to the mundane and overlooked. In a series based on Letraset, for example, she uses the plastic sheets of typefaces from this now-obsolete lettering system to create abstract drawings. Notable for their formal elegance, these works have additional significance because of their dated and arcane material associations.

Another instance of the artist’s engagement with the everyday is her series of video “collaborations” with her cat. In one, Mark plays an assortment of pop and rock songs by musicians from Black Sabbath to Beck—loudly—on speakers next to her sleeping feline. Generally the animal registers little interest or reaction, rendering temporarily absurd the idea that popular music heard at high volume must have an energizing effect. In another series, Mark offers the cat an array of items to sniff, which it does with limited enthusiasm before going back to sleep.

Typified in these pieces, Mark’s humour enhances her ongoing reflection on the ordinary, the habitual. Her inventive recontextualization of a wide range of everyday objects and situations rekindles our perception of what usually melds into the background or goes unnoticed at the periphery of our awareness.

Reid Shier, 2005