Noise Intercepted Collaborators

Stephen Chen - Multi-disciplinary Artist


Toronto, Canada

Why do I want to participate?

I've become increasingly interested in sound, how it is embodied and is itself embodied (consciously or otherwise). I just completed a triptych of inter-related shorts INTER-MEZZO which treats the voice as a metaphor for political voice, and am currently working on an experimental film that re-imagines the soundscape of the city as formal music.

Twitter: @wfarer



Broken AngelNoise Challenge #10: The End

I hate gratuitous noise. I can’t think of anything worth doing in Toronto so I offer a noise intervention I did in Frankfurt in May, a guerilla performance piece entitled GEBROCHENGEL (broken angel) which explored the gilded apology and sufficiency of monuments.

In Frankfurt near St. Peter’s church on Klaus-Mann-Platz, there is a memorial with an angel sculpture (aka Frankfurter Engel) for the homosexual men and women persecuted and murdered during the Third Reich. Like other “apologetic” monuments, the Frankfurter Engel statue is situated in a “dead” space – between the back wall of a building and the driveway of a Best Western; frequented by drunks needing a spot.

On 6 May 2013, the anniversary of Marlene Dietrich’s death and 80th year past the Third Reich, I collide the Frankfurter Engel with Marlene Dietrich (who rose to fame in the film Blue Angel, a gay and lesbian icon, and staunch detractor of the Nazi regime) by interacting with the space and sculpture while singing her signature song “Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß” / “Falling in love again (I can’t help it)” a capella, accompanied by the surrounding soundscape of passer-bys, traffic, drunks, and street sweepers.

Shortly after I completed GEBROCHENGEL, there was a resurgence of anti-gay violence in Europe and North America which has colored my viewing of the piece. I traced the same trajectory through the space, each start offset in a clockwise direction. Over the course of 3 hours, I performed 12 times at random intervals, one for each year of the Third Reich.

Eaves DropNoise Challenge #6: The Eavesdropper

While literally minding my own business, I became hyper-aware of all the noises that were filtering into the cubicle; how upon careful listening one can pick up very personal sounds that places what others are doing.

Bathing in SpringNoise Challenge #5: The Senses

Decided to make some soap that looked and smelled like the sounds of Spring – occasionally surprising but familiar, subtle yet invigorating.

Made with blend of peppermint, lemon, lavender, grapefruit, and rose, with black dill.

Significant SilenceNoise Challenge #2: The Little Things

In the city, we are always listening for something, intentionally or instinctually. Our ears prick at sounds like passing sirens or oncoming traffic, but ignore the silences in-between. Absolute silence does not exist in the city, but silence in the lack of immediate sound – the ambient and the now of mixed and muffled noises, which we often fail to hear.

To make the insignificant significant, I applied audio visual filters to abstract what we normally would see/hear to counterpose against the unadulterated “silence”. Upon reviewing material recorded/shot for this challenge, I’ve come to better appreciate the rarity and randomness of these moments of “silence”.

Toronto soundscapeNoise Challenge #1: The Pulse

Finding the pulse of Toronto through the daily, unconscious and “natural” rhythms of wailing streetcars, careless footsteps, muffled conversations, and impatient traffic at an intersection. Always on the move.

Soundscape location is at the confluence of Toronto’s present (Financial District, Entertainment District) and past (Chinatown, Fashion District).