Sam Cotter and Fraser McCallum’s Indeterminate Growth

6 January – 17 April 2020
Trafalgar Campus Library

Indeterminate Growth engages with Oakville’s local histories by exploring the contemporary relationship between nature and technology. To create this site-specific installation, artists Sam Cotter and Fraser McCallum worked in the Faculty of Animation, Arts, and Design’s furniture studio at Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus, as well as in the Davis Campus’ School of Skilled Trades & Apprenticeship.

The greenhouse-like structure is composed of a CNC-cut plywood base, beneath a welded steel shell that houses over a dozen plants, of which several climb onto lattice supports. Programmed irrigation and light systems elicit subtle plant movement over time.

Indeterminate Growth responds to Oakville’s settler agricultural histories, and in particular, the town’s industrial-scale plant cultivation during the 20th century. If we consider the greenhouse a symbol of environmental management, the artists ask: How can we maintain ethical stewardship of plants in a mediated environment?

Cotter and McCallum want us to pay closer attention to the capacity of plants to “delight and surprise,” and consequently, reclaim the greenhouse as a structure that can respect plant agency. Through its focus on the unpredictable and slow nature of plant growth, Indeterminate Growth encourages viewers to pause and take note of the work’s gradual evolution amid the day-to-day rush of contemporary life.

Exhibition booklet can be viewed here.

About the Artists

Sam Cotter and Fraser McCallum are interdisciplinary artists of mixed and settler Euro-Canadian ancestry living in Tkaronto (Toronto). In their collaborative and individual works, Cotter and McCallum exhume recent histories, with a materialist focus on the media and technologies that have shaped the past and present. Both artists hold Masters of Visual Studies from the University of Toronto.

About Temporary Contemporary

Launched in 2012, the Temporary Contemporary program is an annual installation of a new artwork on one of Sheridan’s campuses. It provides creators with the opportunity to incubate and implement new ideas through exchange with Sheridan’s vibrant interdisciplinary community.

The 2019-2020 Temporary Contemporary program invited proposals from artists and designers across Canada to envision and implement a public site-specific installation at the Trafalgar Campus in Oakville. Artists were encouraged to propose works that considered the unique Trafalgar Campus community and respond to its history and surrounding natural landscape.

Find more information about the Temporary Contemporary program and past projects here.