Bridging Practices In Accessibility, Art and Communication Studies in Sound and Vibration David Bobier, Director/Curator, VibraFusionLab
Artist Statement: A ‘faux’ projection/sound instrument is mounted on an antique school desk. A score in braille transcript is transformed into modes of vibration and visualization through a music box, ‘punchable’ music score strips, LED lights and magnifiers. The use of codified languages, the bridging of technological devices and the emphasis on the multi-sensory becomes the framework for how the work engages with the audience in a more inclusive way. In exploring the transformation of language and communication from one modality to another the intention is to prompt the reconsideration of all the senses as channels of communication and exchange. The use of antique school desks is to draw attention to the controversial histories of exclusionary and abusive societal and education practices for the deaf and disabled populations. The viewer is invited to sit in the chairs, activate the music boxes and experience the sound through the auditory, visual and tactile. The braille script that makes up the sound score is also presented in its actual ‘readable’ form on paper transcripts mounted on the wall as integral to the installation. Typically, these scripts offer statistical information about the blind, the deaf and disability cultures and communities.
David Bobier is a self-identified hard of hearing media artist with a mental health diagnosis and is the parent of 2 deaf children. His work has been exhibited internationally and has been the focus of prominent touring exhibitions in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. Bobier has received grants from Canada Council for the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Grand NCE, Ontario Arts Council and New Brunswick Arts Council. He is currently (at time of exhibition) partnering with Inclusive Media and Design Centre at Ryerson University, Toronto and Tactile Audio Displays Inc. in researching and employing vibrotactile technology as a creative medium. As an extension of this research Bobier has established and is Director of VibraFusionLab in London, Ontario, Canada. The Lab emphasizes a holistic approach to considering vibration as a language of creation and exploration and to investigating broader and more inclusive applications of the sensory interpretation and emotionality of sound and vibration in art making practices. Through VibraFusionLab and in his own art practice Bobier aims at creating opportunities of greater accessibility in art making, art appreciation and in viewer experiences of art practices and presentations. Using performance and interactive installation Bobier explores the bridging of methods of communication and language and ways of interpreting or transforming one modality to another. His work is engaged in a multi-sensory approach and experimentation that allows for the transitioning and re-interpreting of content and experience from one medium to another with particular emphasis on the tactile as a form of creative expression.
Marla Hlady draws, makes sculpture, works with sites and sounds and sometimes makes video. Hlady’s kinetic sculptures and sound pieces often consist of common objects (such as teapots, cocktail mixers, jars) that are expanded and animated to reveal unexpected sonic and poetic properties often using a system-based approach to composition. She’s shown widely in solo and group shows. She has mounted site works in such places as the fjords of Norway, a grain silo as part of the sound festival Electric Eclectic, an apartment window in Berlin, a tour bus in Ottawa, the Hudson’s Bay department store display window and an empty shell of a building. She also, at times, collaborates. She currently lectures at the University of Toronto.
Artist Statement: Soundball is an interactive sound kit that uses a crate both to store and transport as well as to amplify sound. It is simultaneously an instrument and a stage. Audience members are invited to pick up and manipulate the balls as a way to play with sound compositions while standing or sitting on the crate. Soundball (Dancehauling) is a sound work developed in collaboration with musician Eric Chenaux. This sound work deconstructs the rhythm and melody relationship of traditional dance music (jigs, reels, slipjigs or hornpipes to use examples from Irish, Scottish and English traditional music) wherein the musician uses their beating foot to ground the often sinuous or meandering melody as a rhythmic aid for the dancer. Here the performance/recording of both the foot beat in the bass resonator (Hlady) and the bowed guitar in the mid range resonator (Chenaux) have been made independently. Each sound is now in its own ball ready to be played, separately or in unison.
Lynx Sainte-Marie, Afro+Goth Poet, is a multidimensional artist, activist & educator of the Jamaican diaspora, with ancestral roots indigenous to Africa and the British Isles. A disabled/chronically ill, non-binary/genderfluid person, they currently reside in Tkaronto (commonly known as Toronto, Canada) in the Dish With One Spoon Territory. They identify within queer and trans, femme, boi, gender non-conforming, crip and spoonie communities, as well as a survivor of abuse and intergenerational trauma. A poet across mediums, Lynx utilizes multiple art forms – writing, performance, visual art, storytelling, multimedia art installation, short film and song – to engage audiences around issues of identity, adversity, liberation, resiliency and survival at the intersection. As a public speaker, Lynx has presented, lectured and served as a keynote speaker at several colleges, universities, conferences and symposiums at the national and international level. As a workshop facilitator and consultant, they have trained a plethora of individuals and organizations on various issues related to marginalized communities including but not limited to intersectionality, anti-oppression, sexuality, disability and accessibility, gender diversity, anti-Blackness and decolonization. Lynx’s work is informed by their chosen families, afrofuturism, Black feminisms, social justice, disability justice, healing justice movements and collective community love.
Lynx Sainte-Marie, Afro+Goth Poet, is a multidimensional artist, activist & educator of the Jamaican diaspora, with ancestral roots indigenous to Africa and the British Isles. A disabled/chronically ill, non-binary/genderfluid person, they currently reside in Tkaronto (commonly known as Toronto, Canada) in the Dish With One Spoon Territory. They identify within queer and trans, femme, boi, gender non-conforming, crip and spoonie communities, as well as a survivor of abuse and intergenerational trauma. A poet across mediums, Lynx utilizes multiple art forms – writing, performance, visual art, storytelling, multimedia art installation, short film and song – to engage audiences around issues of identity, adversity, liberation, resiliency and survival at the intersection. As a public speaker, Lynx has presented, lectured and served as a keynote speaker at several colleges, universities, conferences and symposiums at the national and international level. As a workshop facilitator and consultant, they have trained a plethora of individuals and organizations on various issues related to marginalized communities including but not limited to intersectionality, anti-oppression, sexuality, disability and accessibility, gender diversity, anti-Blackness and decolonization.
Lindsay Fisher is a freelance graphic artist, illustrator, crafts person, part-time entrepreneur, visual artist, and community activist living in Toronto, Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, BC and a Bachelor of Graphic Design from OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario. She works with social justice groups, disability rights movements and anti-oppressive community based organizations to create and support the development of inclusive and socially conscious graphic design. Currently, she is exploring social and cultural ideas of access and user experience through her work with Project Creative Users, a community research project funded by the Ontario Arts Council. Fisher is the Founder of Project Creative Users which is a collective of artists, non-artists, disability activists, and community members to critically and creatively examine cultural understandings of accessibility through an exploration of what it means to be a “user” in the environments we inhabit. We play with the word “user”, a term used in inclusive design practices wherein disabled people are commonly referred to as “extreme users”.
Statement: This work features two pairs of hands with layered “cripped” voices detailing step-by-step instructions on how to paint your nails perfectly. The voices layered on top of one another contrast and compliment the other’s vocal sound, expression and rhythm, following the other’s lead and in doing so affirming the “appropriate” way to paint your nails. The artists in this work use their own cripped bodies as a performative element taking the role of beauty expert in a form usually associated with desirability and perfection. In this way, the viewer may be compelled into a more nuanced understanding of normalcy or non-normalcy that takes into consideration the universality and complexity of failure, humour, and our temporal bodies.
Gordon Monahan’s works for piano, loudspeakers, video, kinetic sculpture, and computer-controlled sound environments span various genres from avant-garde concert music to multimedia installation and sound art. As a composer and sound artist, he juxtaposes the quantitative and qualitative aspects of natural acoustical phenomena with elements of media technology, environment, architecture, popular culture, and live performance. Monahan began performing in public as a member of various rock bands in Ottawa, Canada (1968-73). Since 1978, he has performed and exhibited at numerous performance spaces, museums, galleries, and festivals, including Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin), the Venice Bienale, the Secession (Vienna), Haus der Kunst (Munich), Mak Museum (Vienna) The Kitchen (NY), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Merkin Hall (NY), and Massey Hall (Toronto). Early in his career, he specialized as a pianist, performing John Cage’s Etudes Australes, premiering pieces by James Tenney and Udo Kasemets, and composing extended works for acoustic piano (Piano Mechanics, 1981) and amplified prepared piano (This Piano Thing, 1989). The renowned composer John Cage once said, “At the piano, Gordon Monahan produces sounds we haven’t heard before.” Gordon Monahan is the recipient of a 2013 Governor-General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. He won First Prize at the 1984 CBC National Radio Competition for Young Composers, as well as commissions from the Vancouver New Music Society; CBC Radio; Dade County Art in Public Places, Miami; The Kitchen, New York; the DAAD Inventionen Festival, Berlin, the Donaueschingen Musiktage and the Sony Center, Berlin. Gordon Monahan is the recipient of a 2013 Governor-General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. He won First Prize at the 1984 CBC National Radio Competition for Young Composers, as well as commissions from the Vancouver New Music Society; CBC Radio; Dade County Art in Public Places, Miami; The Kitchen, New York; the DAAD Inventionen Festival, Berlin, the Donaueschingen Musiktage and the Sony Center, Berlin.
Statement: This sound installation explores the resonance of sounding objects that are re-activated by recordings of their own sounds. Recordings of a group of four different drum-kit cymbals are processed by a computer program and redistributed back into the cymbals, so that the cymbals once again produce their naturally occurring sounds by a process of amplified retransmission. This is a process of sound extraction and reproduction using the source object of the sound as the final reproducing resonant body. Thus, the audio-reproducing elements are self-referential, in that they embody and reproduce their own sounds.
www.ellenmoffat.ca Ellen Moffat is a media artist who works with sound, image and text. Rooted in the vocabulary of sculpture – space, the body and materiality – her primary media is sound. Her practice spans independent, collaborative and interdisciplinary projects. Her independent production ranges from multi-channel installations, to electroacoustic instruments, to performance, to community projects. Since 2002, she has worked with fragmented language and field recordings using up to 24-channels of sound. More recently her work employs methods and strategies for live sound generation with physical interfaces, transducers, real-time sound processing and interactivity. Her investigation also includes the visualization of sound as image, transcription and translation. Her work has been presented throughout Canada and internationally. Selected exhibitions include: rhubarb, rhubarb, peas and carrots, Regina (2015); Playing with Gertrude, Toronto (2015); pingtingtootle, CAFKA (2013); Place Markers: Mapping Locations and Placing Boundaries, Halifax (2012); Marking Space, Brooklyn (2011); Seasonal Waves, Calgary (2011-2012); Night Trains, Tel Aviv (2008); COMP OSE, Toronto, Chatham, and Saskatoon (2008-09); ICMC, Copenhagen (2007); Sounds Nervouse, Vancouver (2006); Future Cities, Hamilton (2004); Sprawl, London, Ontario (2003); Utopia Station, Venice Biennale (2003). Collaborative performances include: (un)quiet d, Toronto (2015), Book Chair Table, Saskatoon (2014), and Marking Space, Brooklyn (2011). Moffat holds a MFA (Sculpture) from the University of Regina, a BFA (Studio) from Concordia University and a BA (Anthropology) from the University of Toronto. Born in Toronto, she is based in Saskatoon. She is a Professional Affiliate of the University of Saskatchewan.
Statement: Objects are activated by computer-generated frequency and physical vibration as an exploration of the acoustic properties of objects and materials. Physical presence (sound vibration) confronts physical presence (bodies), opening up a vocabulary of sound based on direct contact and experience. Digital signal is transferred to materials as action (visible) and sound (invisible) as an act of translation and a metaphor for entanglement and interconnectivity. Drawing from Dadaist techniques, this work proposes a form of Little Theatre: objects are actors that perform and are performed by conditions and chance occurrence. My literary inspiration includes Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons and Erin Moure’s Little Theatres. Both writers attend to the particular, the domestic, minor acts and objects through small moments and actions of materials and sound events, both expected and unexpected. Objects perform kinetic sonic drawings in a state of continuous change. Sound is heard, seen and felt. The source signal is generated in software (Max/MSP) as a continuous process, and output to the physical interfaces through vibrotactile transducers positioned beneath each table interface. Frequency modulation shifts the rhythm and cycle of the signal as a composition.
Artist Alison O’Daniel has a manifesto. “Sound is primary; but other materials and sculptures play out cinematically in a three-act structure of emotional landscapes — a jarringly non-linear experience of simultaneous time that rises through the body.” Using a collaborative, cross-platform process, she makes her strange, fascinating, and lyrical work in interdependent video, sculpture, and sound. Alison O’Daniel works weave narrative between films, objectmaking and performance. Utilizing sound and its synesthetic displacement onto materials, O’Daniel builds a visual, aural and haptic vocabulary through varying levels of access to sound, color and material. Night Sky has been presented with live musical accompaniment by various musicians or with live Sign Language accompaniment at The Nightingale (Chicago), MOCAD (Detroit), NYU, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Museum of Jurassic Technology and other venues. She is the recipient of grants from the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, Art Matters, the Franklin Furnace Fund and the California Community Foundation. Recent solo exhibitions include Samuel Freeman Gallery in Los Angeles. Recent group exhibitions include Untitled Art Fair, L.A. Louver Gallery in Venice, CA, and Zic Zerp Gallery in Rotterdam. Writing about O’Daniel’s work has appeared in ArtForum, the L.A. Times, L.A. Weekly, and ArtReview. She is currently working on her second feature length film, The Tuba Thieves. Video link – https://vimeo.com/71058498
Statement: This long-term film project The Tuba Thieves, made in the wake of tuba robberies from Los Angeles schools, elliptically connects the story of a Deaf drummer to the students, band directors, and school communities who must reconcile with missing sound following the thefts. The film is composed of portraits of music and silence in Los Angeles and beyond, and is interrupted by fictionalized re-enactments of two historic concerts: the 1952 premiere of John Cage’s 4’33”at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, NY and a 1979 punk concert hosted by Bruce Conner at The Deaf Club in San Francisco. Reversing the typical process wherein a composer responds to filmic imagery, O’Daniel commissioned musical scores by three composers (Ethan Frederick Greene, Christine Sun Kim and Steve Roden) and worked ‘backwards”, accumulating a narrative through a process of deep listening. First-hand accounts and real life details from collaborations with students, musicians, composers, and actors are continuously altering the narrative. Each segment, filmed over time, eventually forms a feature length film. The dissonant world of The Tuba Thieves is shaped and colored by sound. The aural experience is interpreted through a visual sensitivity to cinematography, framing, and camera movement, which are considered from the Deaf and hard of hearing perspective as parallel descriptions of soundtrack. The film is produced in segments, out of order and the audience slowly pieces together the larger story.