is a word that conjures at once the solemnity of eastern mysticism and the mechanisation of western empiricism. An onomatopoeic, primordial utterance signifying the correspondence of the individual and the universe. A vibration resounding in unison.

Hum is the title of Duncan Mcdonald and Jessica Thompson's latest show at the Pekao Gallery on view during the spring of 2000.

Pekao Gallery is off the beaten track of the Toronto gallery scene - geographically and curatorially. The space is a veritable refuge for local and international talent, astutely curated by eastern european emigre Zbigniew Pospieszynski. Hum, which ran from March until April 20th, exposed Pospieszynski's propensity for clear conceptual formulations. Partly to his credit, Hum is distilled into a concise yet eloquent assembledge rid of superfluous clauses. While scholarly in his curatorial approach Pospieszynski retains a sense of nostalgia for the poetics of art forms.

HUM is a set of two installations that speak to a schematic and organic approach to artmaking.


The quandary facing young artists in gallery-specific exhibitions, has been how to commit their work - framed by conceptual pronouncements - to the standard aesthetics of contemporary art, while remaining intellectually and formally faithfull to their own idiom. Work capable of retaining the organicity of the creative process, while contingently removing all evidence of such effort.


Thompson's contribution to HUM consists of a video installation projected on the east wall of the space, covering the mid area floor to ceiling. Its serene austerity propitiates a meditative state in the viewer. Unlike the kinesis and thermodynamics of current video work, Jessica Thompson reverses the medium's capability by showing us a static object whose surface can barely be discerned. An interpretive knot, tying the intentionality of the artist with her medium.

Duncan Macdonald's humanist work, on the opposite end of the space, is an interactive piece made of two components: a sectioned birch log [sc]rolled horizontally on a wooden frame, and an old upright piano with a stool placed a few metres from the framed piece. A reference to the pattern writing process of natural cycles, the birch bark refers us to a quasi-victorian classifying impetus, where every organism or material was placed within the confines of a categorical gesture. The branch [nature contained], is framed first in the parenthetical display on the wall. Then 'interpreted' and wrapped around a cylinder in the order to be played. Both denatured and entertaining, it seems to mimick the fate of art. With its anthropomorphic ergonomy, the upright piano invited anyone to sit and play, to execute some repressed creative impulse. The problem being the notes produced were not really the player's - nor the artist himself - but birch bark marks stencilled and punched on the piano roll.