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Road trip inspires Geotrope exhibit

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Ella Morton
As an artist, Ella Morton tends to view the world around her from a different perspective, and translates that view quite literally into her art.
Formerly from Vancouver, Morton is a transplanted Torontonian who will have her kinetic art on display at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art in Kelowna for the month of February and midway through March.
Titled Geotrope, the multidisciplinary exhibition is a series of photographs Morton took on an extended road trip across Canada and parts of the United States.
"I'm a photo-based artist, since I started out exploring art as a photographer, and have always been interested in how photography relates to us and how it extends into other mediums," she said. "I've created a kinetic piece, using a device known as a zoetrope that spins.
"It an animation with photographs that looks at the landscape and how it changes from coast to coast," she explained.
The spinning cylinder, which only lasts for a few seconds per revolution, creates a kinetic installation of the images she captured on the road trip.
The photos are on semi-transparent film, viewed through slits that blend together in animation. Through movement and imagery, Geotrope explores how we relate to time and place, and "how we confront mystery and the unknown."
"I started my trip in Vancouver and headed east," Morton said. "I just took pictures of the country, cataloguing the landscape, the scenery changes, and the art installation is an expression, an instant view of what I saw.
"The landscape is amazing, from the west coast with ocean and waves, to the heights of the Rockies and the expanse of the Prairies. What we have in North America is amazing, and at any turn there would be striking surprises."
The least expected was her trip through Oregon, where she was familiar with and expected the lush forested areas, but was blindsided by "the expansive desert" that creeps up suddenly, seemingly out of the blue.
"It was very surprising, all you could see for miles and miles was sand dunes and cactus. I was also surprised with the ruggedness of Newfoundland," she added. "It was almost like a western landscape - the mountains and cliffs. The eastern landscape was 'tamer' in comparison to the west. So Newfoundland was very interesting."
At the gallery, the art installation titled Roadside Majestic: Celebrating the (Un)Charm of North America, will also be extended into the public space and will explore the culture of highway travel.
The interactive work will feature a large and vaguely drawn map of North America with humourous landmarks written all over it.
Everyone who attends the gallery is invited to write comments on provided markers and place them on the map.
The Alternator encourages everyone to take part in this interactive art process, and photo contributions can also be made on Roadside Majestic blog, which will accompany the installation.
Morton has switched her focus in another direction following the Geotrope, and has a project in the works which examines how people relate to supernatural events, such as UFO sightings and other "strange experiences."
"I'm always working on something, and on art that helps us see and examines things in a different way," she said.
"Art is a reflection of our surroundings, it's poetic and meaningful and enriches our lives on a number of different levels."
The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art is an artist-run centre located in the Rotary Centre for the Arts and is dedicated to the development of the creative community, showing works of emerging artists who focus on innovation and non-traditional mediums that engage social and cultural issues.

What: Geotrope, a kinetic art installation by Ella Morton
When: To March 15
Where: Alternator Art Gallery, Rotary Centre for the Arts
Admission: No charge

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