George Gilmour Members’ Gallery
Ecstasy // Normal
Ecstasy // Normal is a project which explores appropriated imagery used by illicit drug manufacturers to brand ecstasy tablets. Using research sources such as online pill testing databases and news reports, Tobias Williams has created a series of screenprinted works inspired by the colourful, brand-fuelled visual vernacular of MDMA drug culture. Because of the illicit nature of their distribution, the visual design and branding of ecstasy pills plays an important role in their marketability. Information available to the community such as news stories reporting on deadly batches or online test reports of pills with a high or low purity will cause manufacturers to copy or drop a design to gain favourable associations. This fluidity of brand perception creates a unique ecosystem for visual culture where drug manufactures are simultaneously associating themselves with appropriated elements of popular culture while also trying to distinguish their product as unique and desirable.
This project follows a through line in Williams’s work of exploring the transmission of images and concepts through different media and subcultures. He is fascinated by the tendency of people in cultural environments free of copyright to recycle existing visual concepts and repurpose them into new meanings.
Tobias Williams is a Toronto based artist and educator. His work is concerned with exploring the historic and contemporary relationship between technology, culture and creativity. His art practice is primarily based in print and digital media. Tobias graduated with an MFA from York University in the spring of 2013 and currently works as sessional faculty in the printmaking department at OCADU. He’s exhibited in various galleries around Toronto and has received several grants and awards, including the 2009 Don Phillips scholarship at Open Studio and a 2014 emerging artist’s grant from the Ontario Arts Council.