Heart As Arena in Ottawa and Montreal

We’re remounting Heart As Arena, a new dance work by Dana Gingras/Animals of Distinction, with radio installation and sound composition/design by yours truly.

May 10, 11, 12, 2012 at the NAC Studio at Canada’s National Art Centre in Ottawa

and May 29, 30, 31, 2012 at Agora de la danse, as part of the Festival TransAmériques in Montreal

Heart as Arena is a multimedia work for five performers, explores ideas of receptivity, transmission and the secret language of electricity that animates heart, mind and muscle.

Low-watt radio transmitters broadcast a fragile stream of love songs, snatches of static, and the deep silence of space.  A constellation of radios hovers above the dancers, creating a living array of sound. The transmissions create a physical soundscape that is constantly acted on and disrupted by the slipping frequencies and electrical fields created by the dancers’ moving bodies. Bellini’s Norma, the canonical opera of desire, love and loss, acts as the emotional centre of the piece, emerging and disappearing throughout the piece like a distant station heard on late night radio.

This choreography explores the heart as an arena of electrical and emotional force fields; the attraction and repulsion of bodies in motion; physically demanding expressions of need and want; the electrical interplay at the base of our emotions; the firing and silencing of the very neurons that create our experiences of falling in or out of love.

The work features performers Sarah Doucet (Toronto), Shay Kuebler (Vancouver), Amber Funk Barton (Vancouver), Masaharu Imazu (Montreal/Japan) and Dana Gingras (Vancouver/Montreal). Creative collaborators include sound artist Anna Friz (Chicago), lighting artist Mikko Hynninen (Finland), dramaturge Ruth Little (England), with additional dramaturgy by Daniel Canty (Montreal).

Road Movie update

ROAD MOVIE continues at the 62nd Berlinale Film Festival 2012 until Feb 19.

If you’re in Berlin, you can view/listen daily from 11am-8pm at the Gutschow-Haus, Friedrichstrasse 17.

Ostensibly Road Movie is a film installation, but it has gradually expanded to include two related sound installations made with horn loudspeakers. For Berlin I added a new smaller horn mobile which expands certain sonic elements already present in the main film soundtrack. We also crafted a new horn configuration for the documentary material, something of a whispering gallery of diverse voices and opinions from the characters featured in the films, speaking about the segregated road system in the West Bank, and what such roads and landscape mean to the different people who live there. This second horn installation went into the basement in the Gutschow-Haus (see photo above), which once was school for magic, and is rumoured to be one of the few buildings in the area to have survived the bombings of WWII.

Road Movie goes to the Berlinale

all photos: Tom Blanchard, 2011

Road Movie, a multi-screen multi-channel film installation about the segregated road system in the West Bank, created and directed by Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky aka Public Studio, is opening next week at the Berlinale Film Festival. I composed the sound/music and designed the sound installation for the piece, which has some flexibility to adapt to each new space in which we show the work.

Road Movie is at the Gutschow-haus, Friedrichstraße 17, Berlin from 9. – 19. February, 2012, 11-20h daily.

Vernissage on 9. February at 17h.

Road Movie was also voted best Toronto art show of 2011 by NOW Magazine!

Heart as Arena: Love and radio

photo: Yannick Grandmot

I’ve had the great pleasure to be working with Dana Gingras and her dance company Animals of Distinction on a new piece called Heart as Arena.

Here’s a little teaser of what we’re up to:

How far is far away? Wireless transmission is a paradox of intimacy and distance. In “Out of the Dark: Notes on the Nobodies of Radio Art” (1992), Gregory Whitehead writes that radio involves “staging an intricate game of position, a game that unfolds among far-flung bodies, for the most part unknown to each other”. For Heart as Arena, this game of position involves bodies and radios playing on stage, bodies in the audience, signals passing through the theatre from local or distant stations as well as mobile phones and wireless systems on all bands, the built environment of the city and its electrical currents. Using a multi-channel micro-watt radio system, radio becomes a frame for a series of relationships, near and far, where visible gestures meet invisible electro-magnetic interactions;  a circuit built, played with, and played within.

We are immersed daily in a welter of signal, so tonight our interest centers on resonant bodies traversing the volatile nocturnal radio landscape in search of elusive union, tuning in to songs full of desire for love and comfort, the most mortal dreams of all. Bodies serve as antennas, and receivers become transmitters. What we find is that there is no such thing as dead air: the radio landscape is alive though connections are fragile and prone to interference, urgently vibrating with activity, temporary but resonantly human.

The work is conceived and choreographed by Dana Gingras, and features performers Sarah Doucet (Toronto), Shay Kuebler (Vancouver), Amber Funk Barton (Vancouver), Masaharu Imazu (Montreal/Japan) and Dana Gingras (Vancouver/Montreal). Creative collaborators include radio artist Anna Friz (Montreal/Chicago), sound and lighting artist Mikko Hynninen (Finland), dramaturge Ruth Little (England).

Now Showing: Oct 4,5,6,7,8  2011  Buy Tickets @ The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street Vancouver, BC  Box Office: 604-251-1363

As you may guess, there are lots of radios in this show, beautiful transistors from the mid-’60s to the late-’70s. A veritable landscape of radios, as well as a landscape of radio sound. I’ll post more photos once we arrive in Vancouver. For me this is a wonderful opportunity to extend the work with multi-channel radio sculpture into a theatre setting, so radios act as environment, sculpture, and scenography; while the material conditions of radiophonic communication have been physicalized in the choreography.

For those not in Vancouver, fear not! Heart as Arena will be touring to many Canadian cities in the next year, including Ottawa (National Arts Centre), Montréal (L’Agora de la danse), Edmonton, Lennoxville, Quebec City, and hopefully points beyond.

Check out some press: preview here, and review here.

Going out west with a suitcase full of tapes…

photo: Gavin Young, Calgary Herald

I’m currently in ice cold Calgary with the rest of the 300 Tapes gang for the double premiere of 300 Tapes at Alberta Theatre Projects’ playRites Festival. We run from Feb 17-March 6, 2011. In case you’re wondering, there really are 300 tapes in this show. My sound design is predictably all on tape too… and I brought some nice Califone decks to play them back on (thank you Florida public school board).

Here’s what it’s all about:

“Imagine recording your memories on 300 analog tapes. Record. Rewind. Play. Listen. Stop. This intimate mash-up of fact and fiction explores how our memories and identity are shaped (and warped) by time, our own ideas of ourselves and the eyes and ears of others. Featuring a ground-breaking sound design and the curious choreography of our everyday twitches, this bold experiment in storytelling playfully provokes questions about authenticity.”

Developed in residency at The Theatre Centre, Toronto, and co-produced by Public Recordings, with The Theatre Centre and Alberta Theatre Projects.

Faction back in Action

faction2 Mid-August means back to work for a couple of weeks of workshopping with Public Recordings and dancemaker and director Ame Henderson on her Faction project. Through a residency at the Theatre Centre in Toronto, Faction is a piece in development over the course of three years (2008-2010). I’m doing some interesting sound design/sound choreography using micro-cassette recorders, and other kinds of magnetic tape tricks. Here’s the official blurb:

“Public Recordings are very pleased to be a new resident company at the Theatre Centre with the project Faction, a collaboration with writer Bobby Theodore, sound artist Anna Friz, designer Trevor Schwellnus and the performers Joe Cobden, Frank Cox-O’Connell and Brendan Gall.

Faction is a work that explores the murky territory between truth and fiction, and choreographed and unrehearsed movement. Using personal stories as the starting point, the work interrogates the relationship between artifice and authenticity in a theatrical event.”

The piece should be premiering in the fall of 2010, details to come!