Postmasters Gallery is pleased to announce Glamour Modeling – our first solo exhibition with Toronto-based new media artist ALEX MCLEOD. Born in 1984, McLeod is an artist concerned with simulation and the transition of matter. His digitally rendered characters and environments have an air of uncanny familiarity to anyone who's ever virtually set foot inside a video game.
The show will present a group of short animated videos and multi-paneled photographs all featuring various NPCs (Non-Player Characters) McLeod has created. Mutating into themselves in the endless cycle of life and rebirth these looping videos exist in the liminal space between sculpture and sentience.
The traditional role of the NPC in a game environment is to provide the player with an antagonist to compete against and act upon within some form of a narrative. With recent advances in computing and artificial intelligence, the AI that powers NPCs is reaching complex new heights. The NPCs in high-budget games go to a virtual home, have virtual families, behave according to programmed morals, and experience simulated fear.
Questions of morality arise in giving NPCs self awareness. The figures in McLeod's digital animations and prints focus on circumscribed sections of their emotional spectrum. They stare at themselves, acknowledging both their trapped position, and their awareness of it. If the machines that we fight and punish in a virtual world feel pain, is it moral to punish them for existing?
McLeod's characters, candy-colored, slow-moving, gooey or shiny, are hyper-real, relatable creatures in varied stages of abstracted anthropomorphism. There's always something funny and magical about them. Sweet, sometimes mischievous, sometimes clumsy or innocently sinister, McLeod's NPCs are our virtual pets, virtual friends, virtual family, there to be loved or at least accepted. Everybody needs one.