Welcome to Archive/Counterarchive

Working Papers Series: Jenn E. Norton | Imaging the Past

Free Times Cafe
320 College St
Toronto ON M5T 1S3


Still from SLIPSTREAM (2018) by Jenn E. Norton


Jenn E. Norton

The Working Papers Series:

Join us for the third iteration of the Archive/Counter-Archive Working Papers Series, which brings together PhD students from different Universities to hear about exciting doctoral research in the area of archival studies. To kick off the new year, our speaker is Jenn E. Norton, a PhD candidate in the Visual Arts program at York University.  Jenn E. Norton’s talk will be followed by a Q&A with the audience, moderated by our student curators, Michael Marlatt and Axelle Demus.

“Individually and collectively we live simultaneously in the bitsphere and the biosphere, sometimes more profoundly in one, sometimes more profoundly in the other […] All we can do is try to understand, as well as possible, the current and potential dynamics of these interacting spheres of influence and try to monitor and mitigate their impacts, remembering Kant’s insight that time and space are ordering devices of the human mind.” Ursula Franklin, The Real World of Technology, 1999.

Jenn E. Norton’s video, installation and augmented reality work have often addressed time-based media from a position of hindsight, using an anachronistic toolset combining both antiquated cinematic and digital technologies. Norton likens this rear-view mirror approach to understanding contemporary media as it was described by McLuhan: “You can never perceive the impact of any new technology directly, but it can be done in the manner of Perseus looking in the mirror at Medusa. It has to be done indirectly. [..] You cannot tell what it is until you have seen it do things to the old one.” 

Jenn E. Norton’s talk will present documentation of four recent exhibitions that utilize this methodology and that address the technologies employed as well as the visionary figures that pushed them forward. The methods in which these technologies evolve, are maintained, archived, or abandoned are contemplated in each exhibition. The uncanny juxtaposition of time and space that augmented reality and installation affords will be explored as a locative gathering of disparate historical, geographical, and contextual points, forming a temporary constellation where digital and physical realms merge, forming a furtive territory for meaning, perspective, and poetics.  

Jenn E. Norton is an artist using time-based media to create immersive, experiential installations that reframe familiar objects, landscapes, and activities as fantastical, dreamlike occurrences. Using stereoscopic, interactive video, animation, augmented reality, sound, and kinetic sculpture, Norton’s installation work explores the blurring boundaries of virtual and physical realms.  Often using video as a starting point within her process, Norton’s imaginative video compositions of disjunctive imagery are bound together in post-production, using a combination of pre-cinema and contemporary display technologies. Norton's recent multimedia installations and augmented reality apps have drawn upon the works of inventive women whose scientific and cultural contributions were overlooked or misattributed to their male colleagues. Current areas of research within Norton's practice explores the use of metaphor in physics as both a conceptual genesis, communicative device, poetic practice, and demonstrative application of technological and natural phenomena. Recent national and international exhibitions include Lorna Mills' 'Ways of Something' in DREAMLANDS: IMMERSIVE CINEMA AND ART, 1905–2016 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, in/future, at Ontario Place, and Slipstream, and a nationwide touring solo exhibition that premiered at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. She is currently a PhD candidate in Visual Arts at York University. https://www.jennenorton.com

Archive/Counter-Archive is a SSHRC project dedicated to researching and remediating audiovisual archives created by women, Indigenous Peoples, the LGBTQ2+ community, and immigrant communities. With 65+ researchers and 25+ partners, Archive/Counter-Archive looks to address how political, resistant, and community-based, counter-archives disrupt conventional narratives and enrich our histories. www.counterarchive.ca 

Venue Accessibility Info:

There is at least one step at the entrance of Free Times Ca. Everything is located on the ground floor, but the aisles and the bathroom are narrow.


Our fourth Working Paper Series will be held in March from 4:30 - 6:30 PM at Free Times Café. Stay tuned for updates!