As some of you may know, I’m currently working on a new and rather uniquely immersive performance experience on Toronto Island entitled It Comes In Waves (produced by bluemouth inc and Necessary Angel).
Over the course of the evening, audiences canoe to Toronto Island, throw a surprise party, sing a few songs, play a round of strip poker, and help prepare a man for the greatest journey of his life. It’s the kind of theatrical experience which, for the moment, I can only really describe as “…if Frederico Fellini had made an Elvis movie”.
We’re in the last few days of rehearsals now. I will be updating this post in the coming weeks, looking at several aspects of sound, interaction and dramaturgical design as they’ve unfolded in this new work.
Palgrave Macmillan has just released Performing Site-Specific Theatre: Politics, Place, Practice (Anna Birch and Joanne Tompkins, editors) – an anthology of writing investigating the nature of the relationship between ‘site’ and ‘performance’.
Among the collected writings is an article written in collaboration with Bruce Barton (University of Toronto Drama Centre), in which we explore the theory and practical (creative) application of immersive audio technologies in site-specific performance. Entitled Immersive Negotiations: Binaural Perspectives on Site-specific Sound, the article places a large emphasis on my sound design work for site-specific performance collective bluemouth inc (who also feature prominently in an another article in this anthology by Keren Zaiontz). It’s a rather brief article, focusing largely on the confluence of immersive audio design, mobile audiences, and trompe d’ oreille (deception of the ear), in creating heightened sensory experiences.
Here is the publisher’s description of the book:
“Performing Site-Specific Theatre turns a critical eye to the increasingly popular form of site-specific performance. By re-assessing this contemporary practice, the book investigates the nature of the relationship between ‘site’ and ‘performance.’ Site-specific performance operates differently from performance that takes place within a theatre venue because it seeks to match form and content (and place and space) more finely than does theatre that takes place inside conventional venues. Yet the form also encourages an investigation of how we might understand ‘site’ as less fixed or less specifically geographical; it broadens the types of relevant ‘spaces’ we might consider. The form also enables us to address a range of performative issues, from the development of site-specific ‘soundscapes’ to the role of the spectator in site-specific performance. The contributions in the book from leading theorists and practitioners demonstrate how site-specific performance extends theatre’s potential engagement with its geographical and political communities, and cover an exceptional range of innovative performance practices. Students, scholars and practitioners of contemporary theatre and performance, space and place, and site-specific performance will find much to value in this timely interrogation of current trends, practices and implications of performance in which site/landscape is central.”
The Hunger – a multimedia installation by interdisciplinary artist and designer Margaret Krawecka was recently adapted for presentation in the heart of a forest at the (ever-inspiring!) Harvest Festival (Autumn Equinox Arts & Music Festival) held every September at Midlothian Farm, Burk’s Falls, Ontario. While technical limitations forced a scaling-down of my sound design for it, all went very well. You can find more photos and full production credits here.
Shh! is a sound installation for a single audio speaker in a public space. It consists of 24, 1-hour tracks running continuously in the space at an overall volume level which matches the ambient sound level of the space.
Installation gallery note:
A good shushing (like your grandmother probably used to give you), is like an arrow shot through shared airspace. It pulls focus away from self-obsessed interior gazing and casts it out into the world, framing and punctuating the contribution each of us makes to the collective soundscape of the commons.
A good shushing can also wake you up – if only for a moment – to the struggle that each of us experiences in trying to control our surroundings and be heard above the communal din.
First presented by the Art Gallery of York University’s Audio Out exhibition series, October – December 2010.
You can listen to the ‘condensed version’ here:
In this version, all 24, 1-hour tracks have been layered together to form a single 1-hour listening experience. The contents of each track was first mapped out to form a 24-hour cycle analogous to the changing dynamics of the site’s soundscape. The individual moment-to-moment placement of sounds in time was determined using generative processes then digitally rendered and arranged as a continuous, sequential playlist.
Many elements in this work were first presented as part of (((Cocktail Party Effect))) ‘The Audio Waiters’, a guerilla performance project, produced and performed in collaboration with InterArts Matrix.
Both of these works are available for presentation in other spaces and situations.
Musicworks magazine (for ‘curious ears’), has just released it’s summer issue (#107). In it’s pages, Toronto filmmaker and writer Chris Kennedy profiles my music and sound design work with performance collective Bluemouth Inc., Finger and National Exit Strategy.
Also included in this issue are profiles of Friendly Rich, Prince Rama, Marilyn Lerner, the genre of ‘psychotropic music’, and Rob Cruickshank’s recipe for making yourself a pair of binaural microphones for under $25.
The magazine also comes with a CD, which includes an excerpt of the sound design for Bluemouth Inc’s Death By Water and a cut off the first National Exit Strategy EP.