Together with a group of hand-picked artists, Naples will turn the alley into a pixelated abyss, bringing Chicago’s underground digital media scene to the mainstage with music, technology, visual art and interactive media. Get to know Naples, who also co-founded Canvas Chicago, the artist collective curating the entire 2018 season of ACTIVATE.
How did you get your start as a Chicago artist? Where do you fit in the creative community now?
My narrative as an artist is very closely tied to the DIY communities that have permeated Chicago’s underground since a time before I’m qualified to comment on. In high school, my bands would perform at various punk houses and art collectives in the suburbs, Bridgeport or the Near North Side. As I’ve continued to make music and shift my practice toward performative visual art, the spaces have changed, but I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the DIY scene and make it a goal to participate as both host and guest in these networks of artists experimenting beneath the radar. In addition to my own audio/visual practice and promoting and curating events with Canvas—including our long-
What was your role in the forming of Canvas Chicago?
Canvas is the fourth and most recent iteration of a DIY live/work community I’ve been involved with. Learning from the successes and failures of my previous attempts at collective art making, I shuttered my previous warehouse space and moved to a new loft shortly after meeting Canvas Co-Founder Preston Jones in 2011. We found a really special space in Wicker Park with a history of supporting DIY communities that quickly became a hub for people from different scenes.
How did you get involved in ‘ACTIVATE: TunnelVision?’
I was approached by Shannon Rooney, an event producer at Canvas and of this year’s ACTIVATE series, about programming for the July installment. As a great deal of my work and that of my collaborators incorporates light into the practice, the loading dock venue in which the July 12 exhibition will take place affords us a more controlled lighting environment than would typically be possible during daylight hours. This will hopefully provide a unique canvas for such artists’ work to shine (pun not intended, but acknowledged).
How has this season’s theme, ‘(EVO)lution,’ inspired what you’re working on for ‘TunnelVision?’
So much of art and music is in constant dialogue with the evolution of technology. I find consistent inspiration in the new mediums that are developing around social platforms, internet culture, VR, AR and the evolution of time-based media. For this event, I’m pleased to share some of my favorite slices of DIY culture, artists and musicians that have heavily incorporated digital/analog technologies into their workflow.
What do you like about working in public and unexpected spaces?
Non-traditional spaces are a great way to present ideas in a new light. It can engage people when they have let their guard down. What starts in the underground eventually trickles into the mainstream, and the line between graffiti and fine art, noise and music, concert and disturbance, is all quite subjective. I’m excited to present artists from this city who are making work that inspires me, at the intersection of high tech and lo-fi in this loading dock.
Anything to add?
Just that it’s my pleasure to share a version of what I’ve experienced working with or attending performances and exhibitions by each of these artists, and to have such strong representation from the Glitch community, Bit x Bit, the Digital Art Demo Space, Stoptime Live, Hausu Mountain, Canvas crew, Twisted Oyster Film Festival, plus sights and sounds from so many talented producers and visualists.
“ACTIVATE: TunnelVision” will take place from 5-10 p.m. on July 12 in the Sullivan Center alley on Monroe between State and Wabash. RSVP here for a free drink ticket. The ACTIVATE series continues Aug. 16 and Sept. 13 in TBA locations in the Loop.