Douglas Coupland, Welcome to the Twenty-First Century

26 January - 7 April, 2012

“ I want to explore how it feels to be inside the 21st century brain as opposed to the 20th century brain,” says Coupland of his new show, one that examines how art and technology can decode the spirit of our age. Coupland’s fusion of paint with contemporary codes, vector graphics and text-based slogans challenge us to investigate how technology has advanced our lives while leaving us feeling empty. Simultaneously poignant and irreverent, Coupland’s work in this show meditates on the human condition and the natural world on many levels.

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  • Sworn to Fun, Loyal to None, 2011
  • Installation view of Welcome to the Twenty-First Century, 2012
  • Thomson Pine Experiment, 2012
  • Arctic Landscape Fuelled by Memory, 2012
  • A Deep Meditation on Plastic, 2011
  • The Exhausted Landscape, 2011
  • Installation view of QR Barcode, 2012
  • Installation view of Welcome to the Twenty-First Century, 2012
  • Sixteen Slogans for the Early Twenty- First Century, 2011
  • Harris Green Mountain, 2012

The work analyses sensations created by information technology that are nearly universal in the western mind. At the same time it discusses our yearnings that are eternal to all of humanity, couched in the form of imprecations and pieties addressed to people living at this century’s beginning.

In the past two years, QR barcodes have become a seductive way of obtaining information instantly with a single touch of our Smartphones, and completely eliminating the task of searching the Internet for more information about a product or service. As a commentary on this new technological phenomenon, Coupland presents us with large scale elegantly painted QR barcodes that function when scanned by a mobile device. While the viewer may anticipate a direct link to a website, statements about life and death created by Coupland emerge instead.

“I began writing messages I would send to a person who died just before I was born, or to a person who will be born right after I die. How do you compress thoughts about life on earth into 250 ASCII characters? Ultimately they morphed into poems and pieties. They draw our attention to the past, the present and the future we may face.”

Known for his cheeky yet eloquent diction, the text promises both humor and melancholy, presenting the possibility to slowdown even as the viewer is being transported to virtual life. Each of Coupland’s paintings, sculptures and graphics proudly invite viewers to launch themselves into the 21st Century, for better or worse.

Douglas Coupland lives and works in Vancouver. He is a graduate of the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, as well as the Hokkaido College of Art and Design in Sapporo, Japan and the Instituto Europeo di Design in Milan, Italy. Coupland’s work has been exhibited in numerous group shows internationally, most recently at the ART LABOR gallery in Shanghai, China as part of By Sea, Land and Air, We Prosper: New Art From Vancouver, Canada.  Coupland has also had successful solo shows across Canada, including most recently Twenty-First Century at Trepanier Baer in Calgary, Alberta. Coupland has completed numerous public commissions such as the Terry Fox memorial in Vancouver and Monument to the War of 1812 in Toronto. Coupland is currently working on a large bronze memorial for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation scheduled for public presentation in September 2012. His work can be found in the collections of the University of British Columbia and the Glenbow Museum, Calgary.