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ISEA2015: The 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art
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Nancy Lee

filmmaker, VJ, new media artist
Vancouver, BC
Nancy Lee is a curator of interactions. Her crafted spaces stimulate behavioural dynamics, inviting their release into a broth of intangibles. In setting the stage for these action experiments, she is as much an observer as an artist. The notion of staging is a constant in Nancy’s work and underpins her projects from early days as a more traditional filmmaker, through her conception and planning of live events, and into the realms of new media and installation, where her art practices continue to coalesce and evolve.

An avid filmmaker, Nancy has worked as a documentarian and advocacy journalist with different global health initiatives as well as with Vancouver’s Chinese-Canadian community, among others. The considerable responsibility she bears as not only the capturer but also a co-author of events while behind the camera has never been lost on her.

Her persistent fascination with subjects’ negotiations of space in particular would germinate in her early film career and further actualize with her work in event coordination. Freed from having to stage interactions within a frame, Nancy is able - through her DIY and pop-up events held with the Chapel Sound art collective - to conceptualize space and test social relationships therein from the vantage point of an arranger.

It was at one of these Chapel Sound events where Nancy first met Kiran Bhumber - now her partner in Pendula and co-founder of their burgeoning collective, Modalmix. Kiran’s unique predilection for creating interactive sonic and visual environments for performers matched uncannily with Nancy’s vision of an audience-driven apparatus, in the form of a swing, that would allow participants to manipulate their audiovisual surroundings in real time. Within a month, they were collaborating on their first installation and launching what would later become Pendula. They have since been selected for a BC Arts Council grant to bring Pendula to the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, as well as presented at the International Symposium for Electronic Art (ISEA) and the Electro-Acoustic Music Festival in 2015.

Throughout her ostensibly different endeavours, Nancy has consistently challenged binaries: between artist and observer, individual and environment, audience and participant, psychology and art, to name just a few. Her work stimulates and enlivens space, making a provocative statement about how inescapably interconnected we are with our surroundings.