Witness is the title of a news series of bookworks by Ottawa artist Germaine Koh. Based on the artists’ analysis of the convention of the courtroom sketch, the books contain computer-manipulated versions of drawings she has assembled during many months of observing and recording trials and legal proceedings. The project originated in the artist’s interest in the fact that although photography has long replaced drawing as a means of presenting visual information in the mass media, certain areas –such as the courtroom– continue to be protected from the camera’s gaze. Social convention and legal sanction continue to require the use of a technique of representation (drawing) that has fallen into relative disuse in the culture at large. The intersection of media coverage and sensational legal proceedings creates a fascinating context for Germaine Koh’s exploration of the courtroom sketch as both an artistic and social convention. Her drawings, made as an observer in court, have been scanned into the computer and organized, with notes, in groups relating to gestures, habits and behaviour of the various “actors” in the trials. The books are displayed for reading and viewing at the Gallery’s Project(s) Room alongside newspaper coverage of the relevant court cases.
Tuesday, June 4, 1996 to Friday, June 21, 1996