Sounds Like…Audio Art Festival I
May 27 & 28, 2011
Listen to this! For the final weekend in May of 2011, AKA Gallery presents two evenings of experimental sound art from an exciting and varied group of audio artists brought together from across the country. The festival’s title refers both to simile and the game of charades. Along those lines, the artists participating at Sounds Like… will collectively navigate the nuanced connections between sound and the bodily actions and physical gestures of performance. From densely layered soundscapes and audio collage to subtle plays of tonal difference, from bombastic movements of cathartic exuberance to delicate explorations of multi-dimensional space, these performances will challenge expectations of what art is supposed to sound like.
Performers on the 27th included: Constantine Katsiris, Lief Hall, Ellen Moffat & Jeff Morton (in collaboration), Joshua Fraser and Jeff Morton (in a solo performance).
Performers on the 28th: Erin Sexton, Alain Lefebvre, VYXSYMS (Jon Vaughn, Will Kaufhold & Mehta Youngs) and Michael Waterman.
You can read Tod Emel’s curatorial essay here, and there is more information about the performers and their performances below.
Friday May 27
Constantine Katsiris – Vancouver, BC
Katsiris’ performance developed for Sounds Like… forefronts the interaction between man and machine, generating sound in real time utilizing oscillators in digital software. The sounds are honed and sculpted gradually through slow transformations and subtle modulations directed by the movements of his hands over the faders, knobs, buttons and joystick of the interface controls. A MIDI controller incorporating a gyroscope and accelerometer translates gestural movements into transformations of sound waves.
Focussed on researching psychoacoustics, waveform anomalies and various audio phenomena, Katsiris’ compositions are experiments in abstract electronic music with influences including ambient, lowercase, microsound, noise, glitch and drone. Since the early 1990’s Katsiris has developed solo performances, as well as collaborations and improvisations with other sound and video artists, including presentations at La Société des Arts Technologiques (Montréal), Whitechapel Art Gallery (London, UK) and Brut Konzerthaus (Vienna). He has organized countless events both locally and abroad, featuring performances by artists from across Canada, Sweden, Norway, Italy, France, Ireland, UK, Japan, USA and Mexico.
Lief Hall – Vancouver, BC
Hall’s performance works are the meeting place for her various audio and visual art practices, incorporating animated projections, voice, various instrumentation, audio effects, costumes, theatre sets, shadow cut-outs and dance. Transformed by the costume and projections, the body becomes a simile of the virtual environment it inhabits. Her performance explores technology as a form of nature, a growing organism with a symbiotic relationship to the evolution of the body. The body becomes a kind of cocoon, a form of self-domestication that perpetuates a relationship between the synthetic and the “real”, between the virtual and the physical.
Lief Hall is an interdisciplinary audio, video and performance artist and active member of the art and music community in Vancouver, BC. As an extended vocalist working with improvisation, she is interested in exploring the unexpected dynamic shifts that new environments and communities may provoke.
Strung is a collaborative instrument using constructed interfaces, musical and industrial materials, and analogue and digital technology. Four 8-foot long horizontal soundboards are equipped with strings and resonant materials and objects. The artists will perform the instruments directly and set up the conditions for the instruments to perform themselves through sympathetic resonance and excited systems. Their exploration is enharmonic sound – sound that is natural to the system.
Ellen Moffat is a Saskatoon based media artist and educator. Her work uses sound, interactivity, physical interfaces and multi-channel sound to explore space, composition, language and social relations. She is interested in off-site locations and projects with community groups.
Jeff Morton is a Regina based musician, composer and facilitator that has conducted numerous workshops in schools and artist run centres and has worked as an installer for public galleries. His work includes performance, installation and on-site recordings.
Joshua Fraser – Calgary, AB
The Suicide Bomber – solo performance
Grounded in the discourse of psychotherapy and Primal Therapy, Fraser presents us with an experience that both repeats and processes the effects of trauma. Musically, it is a pursuit of the most extreme sounds: sounds that beckon impulse and provide kinesthetic “instructions” on how to respond. Each performance constitutes an attempt at accessing the most primal aspects of the artist’s being, with all of the implications of physicality and unpredictability such earnestness demands.
A multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Calgary, Joshua Fraser engages his audience in participatory acts of sensory excess towards a focused goal: the codification of raw, visceral emotion. Since 2008, Fraser has performed as Suicide Bomber in various centers across the country. He is currently completing a BFA in Painting at the University of Calgary.
Jeff Morton – Regina, SK
Jeff Morton’s performance consists of compositions and improvisations with lamellophone instruments, contact microphones, and original MaxMSP programming. The temperament, or key, of the composition is found in the physical objects themselves, representing a graphic score metaphor such that the score is expressed as a physical object from which the composition is derived. The physicality of objects also necessitates a physicality of performance through percussionists’ techniques and subtle levels of expression related to the body in performance. The combination of live performance, improvisation, graphic/physical scores, and found objects as points of departure position this work in the tradition of electroacoustic music. Morton refers to his particular process here as object composition [his term]; creating a folk-electronic expression of physical interaction and live exploration of sound.
Saturday, May 28
Erin Sexton – Montreal, QC
Sexton’s work with analog, embodied processes serves to expand our notions of interactivity and explore the impact of technological interface; demonstrating the endless complexity and potential existing in the simplest things. Other Dimensions is a site-specific sound performance motivated by theoretical physics: considering light and sound spectra that we cannot perceive or detect, inconceivable forces and entities that are passing by and through us at every moment, the existence of an endless number of universes, with entirely different laws of physics, inhabiting the same space as us, perhaps within every atom. Sexton moves throughout the room, placing handheld oscillators and contact mics on various surfaces, finding zones of phase and interference, tones activating the room and resonating throughout. With simple wire radios, electromagnetic fields and the occasional distorted broadcast are received and modified by touch, transforming exposed air ducts and heating pipes into large-scale antennas, her body part of the circuit. Her use of simple, analog electronics allow for a truly direct performer–audience engagement, with the minimum interface separating source from sound, gesture from impact.
Montreal sound artist/improviser Erin Sexton is excited by limitation, pulling apart and stripping down any process she encounters, often arriving at the opposite extreme. Breadboards, oscillators, amplified surfaces, a tangle of wires intercepting electromagnetic waves… through these raw materials she invokes an experience both embodied and sublime, moving through immediacy into the beyond. Her latest double CD release ‘horizon’ (2011, les encodage de l’oubli) features a solo album and a series of duos with prominent Quebec sound artists Magali Babin, Martin Tétreault, Érick d’Orion, and Hélène Prévost. The last 7 years have contained many collaborations, performances, and video works, reaching back to her first solo album ‘aircraft’ (2004, independent).
Alain Lefebvre – Montreal, QC
How Can I Tell the Difference? – solo performance
Alain Lefebvre contends with noise as a music of space, texture and atmosphere. His aim is to reveal the sheer materiality of sound towards the goal of creating an experience for his audience which is direct, physical and immediate. Lefebvre is interested in the inherent sonic qualities of analog systems: unpredictable, organic, often noisy and densely textured. These characteristics lend themselves to performances intended to disrupt established codes, discourses, expectations and aesthetics, creating beautiful, yet destabilizing experiences.
Alain Lefebvre’s workspace features an array of contact microphones and various objects placed on a table amongst effect pedals and other electronic devices. Manipulating live wires in real time, the performance is essentially theatrical. The loud and unpredictable clamor that emerges reflects traces of a work-in-progress; inevitably punctuated with many uncontrollable silences, but always coming back to the harsh noise, the disruptive, the sublime.
Alan Lefebvre works in the genre of live noise performance. In 2002, he started Total Music as en experimental recording project. These experimentations yielded a body of work totaling eleven self produced CD-R’s. Since 2007, his mostly collaborative performances have combined both visual and sonic elements in a single integrated form. Lefebvre’s approach is inspired by synaesthesia (the mixing of the senses).
VYXSYMS (Jon Vaughn, Will Kaufhold, Mehta Youngs)– Saskatoon, SK
VYXSYMS focusses on the dialogue between organic, analogue and digital sound production. The over-arching strategy at work in the project is the combination of different, seemingly contradictory elements in the creation of a novel assemblage in both material and immaterial realms. They create hyper-complex textural sound works that unfold over time through a shared sensitivity to interactive processes. For this performance, the artists will collaborate to produce a cycle of compositions based on graphic notation, the interaction between recorded, live, and synthesized sound; with particular attention paid to the placement of instruments, surfaces, and performers.
Jon Vaughn is an audio and visual artist from Saskatoon, SK. As an audio artist, Vaughn plays a number of instruments and electronics, including no-input mixing in a duo with VJ Carrie Gates, called J+C Feedback Factory, as well as contributing prepared guitar and vocals with noise veteran Greenmist in the viscerally-named Slime Street. He also keeps busy running his own music label Pop Quiz that releases cool dance tunes and quirky jams and has made well over one hundred of his own albums and dj mixes.
Will Kaufhold is classically trained in violin and trombone and plays guitar. He composes, produces and teaches. Kaufhold experiments with sound using electronics, familiar and more obscure instruments as well as various traditional Tibetan and Chinese instruments.
Mehta Youngs has been trying to compose music since 2001. He is interested in unusual orchestrations, prepared instruments, and electro-acoustic experimentation. More recently, his focus has shifted towards techno and house production.
Michael Waterman – St. John’s, NL
The Mannlicher Carcano Radio Hour – collaborative radio art performance
Michael Waterman’s art is rooted in live improvisational performance for which he frequently creates custom-made instruments out of found objects and circuitry. Process oriented and Fluxus- influenced, his work is a playful experiment in anarchistic collaborative creativity. For almost 25 years, Waterman, has been a part of Mannlicher Carcano, an improvisational audio collage group. The core members are Waterman AKA Porter Hall, Really Happening (Los Angeles, CA), and R.F. (Gogo) Godot (Winnipeg, MB). MC’s sound has affinities with post-punk DIY experimentalism, avant-garde classical, experimental turntablist and plunderphonic traditions. Since 1998, the group has been producing The Mannlicher Carcano Radio Hour, a collaborative weekly telephone and Skype-linked live radio program/webcast. For Sounds Like… Waterman will develop a performance and live broadcast of the MCRH in collaboration with other festival participants, complicating definitions of presence and absence.
Michael Waterman is an audio and visual artist who works both with electro-mechanical sound installations and through live performance. He has shown work at the Sound Symposium, Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound, Send and Receive Festival and the Los Angeles’ Museum of Jurassic Technology.