Created with LED filled Ping Pong Balls in Bickford Park Toronto Nuit Blanche 2012
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.
Inside: Archaeological Findings From 2012
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.
Every year, Toronto participates in an all night festival of art known as Nuit Blanche, so named because it colloquilally means “all-nighter” in French, but literally means “white night”. It’s a sunset to sunrise event on the first Saturday of October. There is so much to see all over the city, and it is by design impossible to see everything. The most popular events seem to be the ones that use lots of light shows and sound. For example, many exhibits feature projections against walls and buildings. One exhibit that was a hit was the tennis point played over and over all night long called The Tie-break. It was a re-enactment of the legendary fourth set tie-break from the 1980 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles Finals between Björn Borg and John McEnroe. That would have been something to watch. But we limited ourselves to one area of only a few of many possible events that night.
First we dropped by the Museum of Gender Archaeology that eventually led us into the GendRPhone booths. I’ll admit, apart from the gender changer, commonly used for electronic connections, and the display of so-called ancient bathroom signs for male and female, most of the meaning of the items in the small collection were lost on me. And Ninja is all about exploring the nuances of gender. I get that it was meant to represent a future bygone world of gender dualilty and it was a great start, but it simply wasn’t enough for me. I love shock factor in art (I just revelled in the outrage caused by the kissing of the pope and the imam), and I wasn’t shocked, merely amused. If that is what the artist was after, then it that sense, it did succeed. The installation invites us however to re-imagine our gender. On the gendRphone, you can select the sex and gender of a potential lover and hear their words of love. In the words of Marshall McLuhan, “When you are on the phone, you have no body”. Just a disembodied voice. I love that concept. It’s full of possibility. Not sure that the installation piqued my imagination though. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.
My favourite installation was the sound and poetry presented by a local group called New Adventures in Sound Art. Go figure. I loved the beat and words that went with it. You’ll hear some of that. The last two installations we went to were light and sound shows. The first was called Night Light Travels and the second was another installation by the NAISA (New Adventures in Sound Art), called Sonic Spaces (The Kinetics of Sound). Both used feedback mechanisms and other triggers to change sound and in some cases light in real time. A Markov chain is a mathematical system that undergoes transitions from one state to another, between a finite or countable number of possible states. The next state depends only on the current state and not on the sequence of events that preceded it. This kind of “memorylessness” is called the Markov property. Markov chains have many applications as statistical models of real-world processes and Shawn Pinchbeck uses them to evolve the sound in Sonic Spaces. He also used Vocoder (Voice encoder) technology and theory to change what we hear in the installation.
Have a listen and see if any of this art is your cup of tea.
During Nuit Blanche this year the highlights for me were three sound events. The first you’ll hear is Sound(e)scape curated by Darren Copeland at New Adventures in Sound Artin Toronto’s Wychwood Barns Artscape venue. The next is a segment from the storytelling event at the Barns. Finally I share an event called In Search of a Wife in Search of a Husband. First is the memoirs of the wife of the Crown Prince of Korea, and her “experiences before and after her father-in-law, King Yongjo, forced her husband, his 25 year old son, to climb into a rice chest. The chest was then sealed and her husband died in the chest eight days later.” Later, the letters between Hester Lynch Thrale and Dr. Samuel Johnson are read. The exchange is from 16 days between June and July 1784. Thrale communicates her in intent at 43 years old to remarry and Johnson reacts strongly to the threat of the end of their twenty year association.