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Alan Dunning is a British-born Canadian artist who lives and works in Calgary, Alberta. Since the late 1980s, Dunning has been producing ambitious installations that explore the complexities of language and perception through the juxtaposition of text and images generated from a variety of sources. His site specific installations are ephemeral and require up to two weeks to mount; the labour intensiveness of these works arises from his history as a performance artist.
The installation Alan Dunning has conceived for the Contemporary Art Gallery employs some two thousand 8 ½ inches by 11 inches transparent acetate sheets mounted edge to edge and broken by vertical striped banners. The accumulated letters, uninterrupted by word or punctuation breaks, form texts that are read horizontally along the wall. These texts shift from the prosaic to the poetic and are derived from three sources: Encyclopaedia Britannica's 1984 Medical and Health Annual, Larry Niven's Neutron Star and Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. Together they present a dense, interwoven narrative that physically envelops the viewer. The grid of ornate typeface frustrates quick assimilation of letters, words or phrases and creates an effect which has echoes of the Baroque, where the difference between the decorative and the symbolic becomes blurred. Dunning's work interrupts linear thought patterns and the stability of language.
Alan Dunning has exhibited in Banff, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Windsor, and Toronto. He has also produced a number of book-works to accompany his exhibitions.