This week I caught up with a Brazilian drumming troupe practicing in the park for their summer season. They call themselves MaracaTall. This is a play on the word maractu, a type of drumming, song and performance genre popular in Brazil. The twist on this Toronto troupe is that they perform on stilts. Their next gig is in Toronto at Harbourfront Centre near the Redpath stage 1:30pm on Canada Day Tuesday July 1 2014.
Listen here for my conversation with several members of the troupe:
Or Download HotFRM 221 (60Mb 31m:37s)
Here are some links to find out more:
http://www.maracatall.com/ – more pictures here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJseNr10_ck- practice preview video
If you don’t know what Nuit Blanche is, it’s a sunset to sunrise festival of art held in cities across the globe. In Toronto, it is normally held the last weekend of September. Originally conceived in Paris in 2002, the name has come to mean “Sleepless Night”. There are far too many art events and installations for any one person to see in a twelve hour period and Special K and I are no exception to that limitation. In my show today I focus on sharing soundscene audio from a mere five out of dozens of events. Glow in the Dark is the first. L.E.D.s inserted into hundreds of ping-pong balls light up the ground in Bickford Park. The result is unexpected. Highwater 2012 is a floating display of objects in the Roy Thompson Hall pond. Objects, somewhat ghostly in their whiteness, float by below us, evoking an odd sense of loneliness and discomfort. Who do or did these objects belong to? Where are their owners now? What were their lives like? Lifecycles, 2012 is a video installation with original soundtrack that shows the time-lapse growth cycle of what we think is kale, that grew in Phoenix, Arizona, home of the artist. We also stop by transparent sealed booths to listen to three masters solving the Rubick’s cube. Each solver has a microphone attached to their sleeve and the sound captured is amplified through speakers. Finally I share the surreal experience we had at the installation Caverne St-Clair 20012. Fragments of culture, writing, and musical scores found in 2012 are re-interpreted by the artist in the year 20012 with some strange and hypnotic results.
Enjoy these snippets of Nuit Blanche 2012. By the way, if I haven’t said this before, my shows in recent years are best listened to with headphones for a feeling of actually being there, noise cancelling headphones if you have them.
Or download HotFRM 214 (62mbs 32m59s)
Links to things talked about in this show:
http://2012.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca/project.html?project_id=1154 Glow in the Dark
http://www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca/project.html?project_id=1077 Lifecycles, 2012
http://www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca/project.html?project_id=1016 Caverne St-Clair 20012
From her website we read that:
Alexandra Gelis is a Colombian-Venezuelan visual artist based in Toronto, Canada. She holds an MFA degree from York University, Toronto, Canada. Her work incorporates photography, video, electronics and digital processes…Gelis’ work addresses the use of image relation to topics of displacement, landscape, and politics. One of the prevalent concerns in her work is to unveil the relationship between landscape, history, people, geopolitics and the diverse techniques for achieving subjugation of bodies and population… As an educator/facilitator in video and photography she has led workshops with youth in disadvantaged communities in Canada, Colombia, and Panama. Her work has been shown internationally in several venues and galleries in Canada, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Argentina and the United States. She has developed curatorial projects, video screenings, and programs for festivals in Latin America and Canada.
On August 15, this summer, Alexandra unveiled her installation called Raspao/Snow Cones. This installation in her own words is
…a moving sound sculpture vehicle that makes Snow Cones to sell them. It is also equipped with electronic components that capture, reproduce, mix and record sounds and video in real time. Customers and bystanders create sound compositions by mixing sounds in real time from the surrounding environment and the sound made by the internal components of the cart. The Snow Cone vehicle is a food cart, a hybrid vehicle, a mixture of a Raspao cart used in Colombia to sell snow cones and the food carts that Portuguese and Greek Canadians use for selling roasted nuts and other sweet goods in Toronto. Snow Cones is also a sound piece that aims to open a space for social interaction, a place of meeting and conversation.
Of her relationship with the experience of snow cone machines she writes:
When it was very hot in Cartagena, Colombia, as a child I will buy an ice cone and I will eat it lying down on the beautiful decorated and cold tile floor in my house. The installation is a product of a private performance in the back of my house in Toronto, dealing with childhood memories. I paint on the snow using fuchsia ink (reminiscences of Ice Cone or “Raspaos”) tiles with arabesques as in the floor in my house in Cartagena. At the end I laid down naked on the snow trying to recuperate these impossible memories. Hot – Cold, Fuchsia – Childhood – Moments.
In my third episode of four shows featuring artists at the Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium, 2012 join me now during the opening of this installation and interview with the artist:
or Download HotFRM 210 (45mb 24m11s)
Equipment used: Apex 415 for intro. Zoom H2 and Roland – CS-10EM – Binaural Microphones/Earphones for soundscape and interview.
You can find the links to Alexandra Gelis’ sites @
In this second of a four part series of soundscapes and interviews I did at the Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium this August, I share two sound exhibits. PluseCubes by Ryo Ikeshiro. From the program: “is an interactive sound where visitors are invited to become part of an implicit feedback loop whose other components include a set of small cubes on a flat surface, computer vision and digital signal processing. The cubes are tracked by a web camera positioned overhead and processed by a programming environment known as Max/MSP/Jitter. The audience interaction is created through the placement and movements of these cubes acting as a control device which in turn results in the production of audio and physical vibrations. Ryo is a London, England based electronics and acoustic musician working in the fields of audiovisual composition, improvisation, interactive installations, soundtrack and therapy. He is currently studying for a PhD in studio composition.” The next exhibit I explore is Ghostwood a/v by Michael Trommer who did the audios, and Brent Bostwick who did the visual part of the exhibit. From the same program: “It is an audio-visual installation which investigates the psycho-geography of Ontario’s northern wilderness. It is primarily focused on the use of infrasound provided by specially constructed tactile transducers and is supported by a video component of the Georgian Bay landscape. The project title is is a reference to those suburban neighbourhoods in which the sole memory of what has been displaced or eradicated as a result of their construction survives in the now prosaic street names (‘Valleyview’, ‘Forest Hill’, etc).”
In our discussion of infrasound, Michael mentions a phenomenon called the brown note and wonders if it is a myth. As it turns out, it looks like it is a myth, and is only hypothetical according to my sources. But you’ll hear more about that during the interview.
Enjoy the show.
Or right click to Download: HotFRM 209 (63mb 33m39s)
It’s hard to decide which piece I loved most on the evening of August 16. It was the second concert night of the Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium hosted by New Adventures in Sound Art. The theatre at the Wychwood Barns on Christie Street, where the concert was held, holds a maximum of about a hundred audience members. So with some seventy-five of us seated, it was a respectable showing even when you include the artists and their friends and family. I looked around the concert venue and heavy black media space curtains surrounded the walls. Such curtains contain the sound within the room and keep noises out as well. The concert-goers faced the stage and some of us were along the curtained wall. Placed around the seating were no less than eight speakers. This placement of speakers guaranteed a surround-sound experience. Perhaps it would have been more immersive for me if I had sat somewhere in the middle facing the stage, but instead I sat on the periphery against one of the walls of curtain and directly to the right of one of these speakers. Keeping my eyes open during the performances sometimes put me at a distinct disadvantage. It was often better to listen to the nuances of the sounds without the benefit of any visual cues.
This concert had six pieces. The most breathtaking of these for me was the last piece : MiND Live: Live Coding Audiovisual Performance. The group performing consisted of five collaborators, a screen on which live-coding was projected in real time, laptops, and performers in various parts of the room including on the stage. Beautiful vocalizations by Meaghan Niewland were manipulated as were additional sounds and visuals by the other performance artists. There was a lovely hypnotic but controlled flavour to this performance. Another interesting piece was Michael Pound’s Opening. Through the use of sensors, pre-recorded sounds and music, (an accordion was prominently featured), Michael beautifully mutated the sounds of the accordion with the palms of his hands. With his hands above the sensors, waving and dipping up and down and across, it looked like he was making music out of thin air. It was a lovely irony since that’s what sound is – vibrations moving through the air. Dracnoids, Joshua Keeling’s interpretation of a meteor shower he experienced, features a soprano saxophone and a bassoon. I’ve never heard a sax that sounded like a guitar nor a bassoon that boomed like a foghorn, but those were some of the impressions I had of the sonic transformations that Keeling and the musicians left me with. It would be fair to say that I was also mesmerized by the other three pieces: A Trace of Finches, with it’s field recordings of Nova Scotian woods, First Life, a mixed media performance of string quartet, live audio processing, narration and animation of organic compounds, and finally Windows Left Open, with its sound experimentation using electric guitar, acoustic guitar, cello and contrabass.