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Voice of Fire 2006

The famous painting Voice of Fire gets a remake with Jeremy Turner's online avatar version.

The Voice of Fire 2006 is a chat room avatar. Its form and colour parodies a famous painting named Voice of Fire (1967) by Barnett Newman, owned by the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. The painting's purchase in 1989 caused a furore as people were challenged to understand why almost 2 million dollars was spent on its acquisition. Those in the art community were, in turn, challenged to explain the value of monumental abstract painting. Turner's Voice of Fire 2006 is, in many ways, a reincarnation of heroic abstraction, with the advantages of cyberspace.

Unlike monumental acrylic paintings, this digital artwork is not quiet, nor can it be fully experienced with silent contemplation. It is chatty, pixilated, projected, animated and can only be interactive online. For those familiar with chat room technology, it won't be news that this territory of digital technology within the Internet has come to be considered (and experienced) as a very real realm. Communities are discovered and are built in chat rooms, and participants' avatars are designed or selected to best represent one's online life form. In some ways, creating and animating an avatar in a chat room may be similar to acting as the Wizard of Oz, behind the curtain of the Internet.

Unlike the original painting incarnation,Voice of Fire 2006 will inhabit a fully interactive cyberspace environment where up to 19 other avatar participants could occupy the blue-field and provide their own virtual commentary about existence.

Jeremy Turner is rumoured to be the offline voice behind the Voice of Fire. During the performance sessions, Turner will transform into the Voice of Fire in both personality and virtual presence. Turner will be "in character" and will allow the Voice of Fire to improvise his answers to the gallery audience based on the writings of the Voice’s original creator, Barnett Newman.

Read the exhibition brochure.

About the Artist

Jeremy Owen Turner (b. 1974) is an interdisciplinary artist, published writer, virtual performer and music (audio) composer currently based in Vancouver but exhibits, curates, performs and collaborates globally.

Image credit: Visitors interacting with Jeremy Turner's The Voice of Fire 2006 at Surrey Art Gallery.