I use noise as the genesis of my installations. My art practice's research has been to bring unconscious sounds generated by participants of my installations to the forefront. I then process the sounds unknowing generated by the beholders of my work and play those back to them to complete the piece.
Being asked to make noise is normally not a problem, but I felt challenged by this request. I was leaving my studio and my home to visit my summerhouse in Newfoundland to open it for the summer. I didn’t have regular equipment so I thought I would have to pass on this challenge.
I was in bed at my summer home in Kingman’s Newfoundland, when the rain began. I raced out of bed and put a drum out on my porch. Yes, I have a drum here, a floor tom. Of course by the time I got out of bed and dug out the drum the rain had almost stopped. There was a plethora of drips coming from the roof of the house. The sound on the drum proved to be very random. I decided to video tape the drips bouncing off the drum.
Being here alone, my partner couldn’t make it with me. Also the trip was labour based, repairs needed to get my 100 year old home up and running. I was missing her and I had a video of her dancing on my computer. An idea flowed from this stock of imagery. Using a ghostly image of her along with the beating of the drum and the pixelization of the rain brought forth the dream of noise.
Killing Me Softly with Bird Song – The Noise Project #9 The Free for All
By my home is a large tree where deep in its foliage large habitats of birds reside. Every morning just before the sun rises these songbirds begin to sing. It starts slow and singular. The sounds start to increase as the conversations progress. Is it just conversation and how much of the community is involved? As the sun starts to crest the horizon, the song moves to cacophony. I drift in and out of consciousness as light starts to pierce my blinds the open window challenges my sleep. The songs change from a choir to chaos. A good chaos, nature’s calamity. Then the alarm goes off the birds seem to stop and my day begins.
My practice revolves around the idea of unconscious sound generated by the spectator. We live in our own auditory architecture. This can be seen as barriers of sound that have become a personal white noise, or the sounds of our existence. I find myself conducting constant analysis of the sounds I generate so I felt it would be interesting to examine the sounds of my true unconscious self, during sleep. My partner as well as my children consistently comments on the sounds I generate during my sleep.
Apnea Suite is culled from a 7+ hour audio recording of my sleep patterns. I was shocked as well as amused by the sounds I generate during my sleep. Shallow breathing, whistles, coughs, sighs, deep breaths and snoring comprise the source of this composition. I have mildly processed the work. I wanted the suite to speak for itself.
This work examines the notion of eavesdropping. In the video I’m seen interviewing artist Wanda Koop for my TV program Artsync. Unlike interviews I’m involved with this one shot outside of the cameras used for the program. The gallerist used my iphone to eavesdrop on my conversation with Wanda. There are questions that must be asked when one eavesdrops on a conversation or situation. Is what I’m hearing in the context that is being possibly portrayed? In the case of my project the sound is almost incomprehensible. The conversation is echoed due to the vastness of the space as well as it is intimate in its projection. The situation, which is being observed, is also open to interpretation. The perception could be sketchy in its analysis. What is being discussed and who sits in those chairs and why is there a discussion going on?
I have to admit that a portion of my life is eavesdropped on. I host a television show so every time an interview is played the spectator takes on the role of voyeur and/or eavesdropper. They always assume through their own lists of empirical evidence of what maybe happening.
This synesthetic challenge allowed me to echo the spirit of Kandinsky. Kandinsky’s paintings were coloured filled expressions of the sound around him. His synesthesia rendered him the capacity to see sound and hear colour. In this project I used the markers of spring, the melting snow and the blossoming of the flower. I feel spring is alive in colour and the Winter Aconite is nature’s early signifier of this joyous season.
I have processed a time-lapse video of the Winter Aconite, moving it into the abstract, may I say a Kandinsky approach to representation. I then appropriated Vivaldi’s “Spring” from the Four Seasons, slowed it down, sampled and processed it, through turntabling, to represent the spring I have experienced this year in Toronto. Bloom is a representation of the 2013’s painfully slow process of nature’s evolution from winter.
I still am worried about how I would approach this challenge. My first stress evolved around what do I want to listen too for this extended period of time. My mind flew through my music library when I decided I would use Martin Brandlmayr’s electro-acoustic trio Radian. Austrian percussionist/drummer Brandlmayer has been pushing buttons for me since I heard a duet recording with guitarist Martin Siewert and how I travelled through Switzerland with the disc on repeat.
Don’t get me wrong Radian’s release Chimeric, 2009 has been a favourite of mine especially when it pops up on shuffle. I’m always at first taken a back. There is a wondrous beauty to their dis-fragmented sound construction.
The First Play
As I stated above I was familiar with what they do but they seem so fresh everytime I hear their music. So I’m off to a doctor’s appointment and I know this is the time to start this challenge. Public transit and wait times always allow for listening fodder. I’m thinking even before I start listening how do I approach this? I place on my headphones and start off to the streetcar. The project begins. The music starts and the guitar is torn apart, not in a metal way but against the assumptions placed on what you are to do with a guitar. An unamplified strum, clicks and pops of an effects pedal about to be pushed, wait, I’m not supposed to hear that! Then the pedal is pushed and the sound one might expect from a guitar is released. I’m startled, where is the finesse, it sound like a mistake, but as I listen it isn’t a mistake, it is a readymade. Small sounds start to occur, pings maybe bells, processing then Brandlmyer drags a brush across his snare, Crisp, clear and distinct. A Bass drum and there is a rhythm. Wait a rhythm an unlikely character to show up in this escapade. This not a usual tool to be found in their sound kit, I thought. The rhythm is haunting and infectious.
I want you to know time is not a factor in my listening choices or the sounds I create. So, this was a pleasant surprise. Feedback loops, stretched sounds, processed noises combined with all the wrong sounds scared even more than the initial apprehensions as I have now committed to this soundtrack challenge.
I walk past west end houses all compact, two floors if anything like mine its two bedrooms, possibly a third in the basement. The area in which I live is all paved over. There are few lawns or gardens just driveways. It is a working class neighbourhood. The driveway hold the vehicles needed to work, pickup trucks and mini vans fill the driveways most of the time, but it is midmorning and most have left for work. I reach the bottom of the street and the streetcar arrives promptly. A class of elementary school students is entering the streetcar I have to assume it’s a school trip. I take a seat by the window. There are not many riders and at this point I have listened to Sub Colours a number of times and I’m definitely disappearing, Immersion is almost there. The streetcar starts moving towards my destination.
The Eighth Play
The sounds are mesmerizing as I’m still totally surprised when things appear in the music. It has started to become affectual, shivers run up my spin and at times subtle and unknown noises act as specters and set my arm hairs standing on end. My mind is trying to come up with a concept of how to demonstrate this work of art into a work of art. How can this be my soundtrack and how am I to react? While concern is definitely multiplying my mind starts to escape the fear through an analysis of what I was listening to. How close are the microphones, I swear I can hear the snare drum breathing. Everything you are not to hear is evident. It makes my skin crawl in such a good way. I try to find where everything I coming from, who is creating this symphony of joy. It is intriguing,. I’m so lost in the noise. I am as Deleuze and Guattari call, The Body Without Organs. It’s a location where immersion is so deep that you lose track of time, place and yourself. Fuck, where did that come from, again I’m taken a back by a sound that I have heard now almost countless times and I was caught by surprise. That brush being dragged across the snare drum. So crisp so clean, I can hear every indentation, speck of dust and grain in the drumhead as the snared is caressed. Hints of a drone or is it feedback, it is so subtle quiet like a train travelling by in the distance on a warm summers night. I try to dig deeper, how is it done. I’m in love.
I’m at the first subway station along the streetcars route and everyone is leaving the streetcar. I guess it has been short turned. Time to go back for once it came. So I’m a bit lost. Not physically but so entrenched in the sound running from ear to ear engulfing my brain. I have to remember where I’m going and not let routine become my instinct and walk to the subway. I head over to the eastbound streetcar stop and wait. There is a small line up mainly passengers from my streetcar then I realize the class trip that also was travelling on my streetcar, have disappeared. How did I miss that I was even close to the back exit of the streetcar? Well, the next streetcar boarded us and off I went on another part of my journey. I sat down and bye I was gone. Engulfed in the power of beauty.
Never Silent examines empty spaces. I use the vinyl record to explore the noise that is evident in the empty spaces between the data captured on the disc. I see the end of the record as an empty space that brings a breath of air after the act of processing the data. This space is not empty sound still persists.
The act of accessing the data of the disc brings deterioration. The mechanisms that transcribe the information on the disc destroy the message every time it is retrieved. The fragility of the record is what brings forth its warmth. Warmth is not something that is related to empty space. This puts the vinyl record in a different light. The pops, ticks and scratches feed our memory of the data and strengthens our relationship to the information played back. The flaws brought forth through its access, to the data of the disc creates our relationship to the information. .
This work looks at the pulse of a city through it’s sounds of movement. Toronto, Canada has been in an ever evolving debate about gridlock, public transportation, bicycles and how to move a populace. Motion uses the sounds of movement both above and below ground to demonstrate the pulse of this city.
This work examines the sounds we take for granted at least here, in Toronto, during the winter season. We live in an aura of white noise that we have censored from our hearing. “Comfort” examines heat inviting use to use our aural sense rather than the ones related to the comfort of warmth. Warmth is experienced through the sense of touch, heat physically touches one body the sound is just part of the mix in our existence.