The Region of Waterloo is often recognized as a center for innovative technology, but locals know that it is also home to a wide variety of talented artists. One of them is Torin Langen.
Langen spoke to TCE about his artistic vision, art in public spaces and his plans for the future. He has been living in the region for his entire life and he got his start in the creative arts through filmmaking and prop design.
Langen is most known as a cinematographer, producing music videos as well as the horror anthology 3 Dead Trick or Treaters (2016). Lately his artistic focus has shifted from narrative filmmaking to stand alone sculptures and physical fabrications.
“The area I’m most interested in now, or looking to focus on now is physical fabrication of sculptural objects, or doing scenic and prop design for film and theatre,” Langen said.
His sculptures feature otherworldly creatures and animals in mixed media, resulting in a vibrant combination of materials and colours. Langen explains that he is attracted to an art style that plays with “textural chaos and visually overwhelming” effects.
Langen is planning a pop-up gallery at the end of this summer to exhibit his sculptures in a public space and to a wider audience.
This is largely motivated by the dissatisfaction Langen feels when he observes art in public spaces.
“I find that a lot of city art is really sanitized and clean and unintrusive,” Langen said.
He said that this might be caused by the city’s ambition to grow and expand, to attract visitors and businesses that should not be confronted with weirdness.
City art is normally not forcing us to pause and reflect or even attempting to irritate us. We pass artwork on the way to school or work without even noticing it.
Many visual art forms are complex, versatile and artistic expressions can be reflected using a multitude of mediums. Still, art in public spaces does not mirror the diversity of art forms and artists that live and create in this community. Langen said he hopes that the city will be able to open up to weirder art and artistic uniqueness.
“I really want to see stuff that is a little bit dirtier, grimier and shocking even in some cases,” Langen said.
His example might also encourage other artists in the region to leave their comfort zones and show viewers uncommon, out-of-the-box and thought provoking art forms.
If this project succeeds, Langen could act as a trailblazer for a rejuvenation of the art that currently occupies public spaces.
Langen’s outlook on the future of the arts in Waterloo is hopeful: two long years of pandemic-related lockdown, the loss of cultural venues and the limited possibilities for artistic expression have resulted in a visible and vocal desire for engaging art.
Furthermore, Langen predicts that frustration during the pandemic—the lack of ability to share—will result in some abrasive art which will not be conforming or quiet: “I am hoping that as things start to open up again—there is a real hunger for art—people feel emboldened to take risks with their creative expression coming out of this period,” he said.
“I think there is a lot of cultural frustration and I think that we will start seeing this reflected in work across all media and genres.”
Sculptural work will stay the focus of Langen’s next projects. Besides his plans for pop-up galleries and more music videos, he wants to develop narrative art through sculptural work in concerts and stage productions.
Langen is currently working on his website. It will act as a catalogue of his work—listing past and present projects—and will hopefully lead to more artistic collaborations and commissions.