Toke’s sculpture is rooted in a painting he made of an Alzheimer’s patient’s brain image, called memory fragment (Transmutations, 2000), which showed broken and disconnected axons and dendrites with found photos emerging from them. The artist was compelled by this work, and wanted to reconnect the synapses and know what they encoded; they were frozen as if in amber. This new transparent resin work, which includes organic structures, photos and medical imaging, will, like amber, yellow with exposure and time to become an artifact of memory. Toke hopes that science and research will find an end to this disconnect, so that people may write their own stories.
The title refers to the Greek origin myth of Amber. Mourning after their brother Phaethon's death, his sisters, the seven Heliades, were turned into Poplars and their tears to Elektron (amber).
Michael Toke is a Toronto based visual / installation artist, born Hamilton 1964. Attending Sheridan College and OCA in the 1980s, moved to NYC and worked as head assistant to J.S.G. Boggs a commerce based performance artist. Exhibiting internationally in art and film venues. His installations combine painting, photography, video and sculpture hung on a conceptual armature of documentary film practice. I believe to approach difficult, strange and elusive ideas you must use peripheral vision and newtonian half measures; random cultivation is the path to expression and enlightenment.
Michael teaches Advanced Painting, Abstraction, Colour Theory and Film/Video at the Art Gallery of Ontario.