Nell Tenhaaf

Professor emeritaat York University
Trent Hills,
Canada
Focus area: Biology, Body, Self, Digital Art, New Media, Digital Culture, Sculpture, Spacial

Nell Tenhaaf is an electronic media artist and writer. Born in Oshawa (Ontario), she lived in Montreal from 1969 to 1994, in Pittsburgh 1994-97, and since then in Toronto and Trent Hills.
Tenhaaf  has been working with computer-based media since the early 1980s. She first made pioneering artworks using the Telidon videotex protocol for interactive graphics and text, including public access to her databases in Montreal via experimental telecommunication networks. In the late 1980s she became known for lightbox displays that presented a critique and appropriation of scientific representations. The focus of these works is feminist commentary on biotechnology and genetics, shown as practices that only complicate how human nature is hybridized and imperfect. Since the mid-1990s Tenhaaf’s work has been allied with artificial life, taking the form of sculptures that bring human and electronic components into close contact. She has collaborated since 2003 with John Kamevaar (sound artist), Melanie Baljko (computer science researcher) and Nick Stedman (electronic media artist researcher).
Tenhaaf's published articles in journals, anthologies and conference proceedings address cultural and asesthetic issues related to the biosciences and artificial life. She co-wrote and published several notable articles and conference presentations with Dr. Baljko throughout the 2000s. Her texts on feminist art date back to the early 1980s when she was a director at Montreal’s Powerhouse Gallery (later renamed La Centrale).
A survey exhibition of fifteen years of Tenhaaf’s photographic and interactive work was shown in several Canadian venues between 2003 and 2006, and she has also shown in Spain, Hungary, Germany, Sweden, and the USA. She was jury chair for the VIDA art and artificial life competition in Madrid since its inception in 1999 until its final iteration in 2014. Tenhaaf is Professor Emerita at York University in Toronto. Her work is in the collections of The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa and Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, BC among others, as well as in private collections. She is represented in Toronto by Paul Petro Contemporary Art.

Journal Articles:
General Articles

Where Surfaces Meet: Interviews with Stuart Kauffman, Claus Emmeche and Arantza Etxeberria

April 2001
Special Section: Art Embodies A-Life: The VIDA Competition

Art Embodies A-Life: The VIDA Competition

February 2008