THE XENOGRPAHIC SOCIETY

 

OTHER SELVES : THE MUSEUM OF INNOCENCE is a  performance installation that integrates elements of paper theatre, an interactive audio installation, and comunity-engaged media art in a ‘storytelling machine’ that is created by the audience, both in the installation space, and by adding content remotely. The resulting ‘paper portrait’ of the city is animated by sound, both ambient, and in a hidden layer that can be explored by touch, using tactile transducers embedded in the surfaces of the ‘city’.

 

Other Selves explores how layered audio streams that enter the body in various ways can animate and integrate a physical environment of independently created micro-narratives, and create an open-ended ‘story-telling environment’ that transforms visual and narrative elements through simultaneous, complementary and competing soundscapes. These soundscapes will be transmitted by touch, through direct bone induction, using tactile transducers mounted in the installation surfaces. While their sound is inaudible outside, they create full spectrum sound in the body, similar to hearing ones own voice alongside ambient sounds.

The goal is to allow an ocean of ‘subtext’ to emerge that will corroborate or call into question the physical states of the installation, and present different ‘mixes’ of the narrative content depending on which area participants explore with their body. It may accumulate into a chaotic assembly of anecdotes, or into something resembling a seethingly polite family dinner, and everything in between. Based on previous experience, work of this type relies on a kind of of ‘critical mass’—beyond directorial control, where each iteration of the work opens to a different narrative path, but within a consistent frame that supports the diversity of elements.

For the workshop phase, micro-theatres will be assembled on a set of tables and connecting structures. The final installation at the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall will consist of connected 'islands' set around the support beams in the centre of the room.

Test Layout

Project Schedule

The work will be developed in three phases:

First (September 2013 - December 2014) is a research and development phase for the physical and data management aspect of the installation. This will involve creating a sensor grid and a system that animates the cardboard cutout characters, involving magnetic actuators, and perhaps a little old-fashion model railroad technology. The goal is to create a modular system that can be expanded to as large a size as the participants require. The first prototype will likely be a set of folding tables equipped with sensing and actuating components, coupled together by miniature bridges or beams. Working with longtime collaborators like Stefan Smulovitz and Brady Marks and video editor Michael Sider, the data management infrastructure will be a MAX environment designed to manage multiple layers of content depending on a set of behavioural parameters, such as the number and activity of audiences and ambient conditions. I will create a set of narratives that help indicate the range of options for the participants and that will be embedded in the final work. The guide for these stories will be, albeit loosely, Turkish Author Orhan Pamuk’s novel, which constitutes both a book and a museum that hoses a collection of objects designed to ‘corroborate’ scenes and characters of the novel, and which inspired the title.
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Phase Two will take place between January and March 2014 at the Vancouver Roundhouse Community Arts Centre, who have agreed to host and coproduce the work, At this stage the community will be invited through a series of workshops and demonstrations to participate and create a series of ‘paper theatre worlds’ to add their stories to the work. Using paper cutouts, audio and visual recordings, each story will inhabit a world of its own, but as they accumulate and as themes emerge, they will become part of the same world. The installation may resemble a gigantic dinner table, a diorama of family dynamics, factual, remembered, or imaginary. There might be a night drive across the prairies, a conversation that should have happened thirty years ago, or a love story. As the stories accumulate, they will determine the topology of the final work.

Phase Three will take places during April/May of 2014 , with the integration and layering of all the stories and their respective audio and visual components, in collaboration with their creators. Some of the stories will be animated with the help of readers, pico-projectors and video sequences, but the fundamental sensory experience will be by listening with the hands, and exploring the overlapping worlds of the work. Final presentation will be May 12-16, 2014 in the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall in Vancouver.

Roundhouse Space

Context

I have been working as an interdisciplinary and collaborative artist since the 1990s. My practice encompasses and integrates elements of interactive installations, community-engaged projects, audio art in public spaces, as well as collaborations with theatre and dance. I am especially interested in the tension of embodied and disembodied narratives, and in work that combines a rigorous conceptual frame with an open, community-driven component. My previous work has explored strategies such as sound-guided ‘intravehicular’ tours (Vmax, 1994), radiophonic ‘invisible theatre’ in public spaces (The IKEA Plays, with Radix, 2000), public interventions and notional institutions (The Gabriola Institute of Contemporary Art, since 2010), and projects that foreground acoustic ecology as a compositional element in sited installations (Fish on Air, Gabriola Island 2007), as well as sound-based installations exploring site and narrative memory (YVR: The Remembered City, with Radix and the Vancouver Roundhouse, 2011).

For the past ten years, I have also been working with paper theatre, a Nineteenth Century form of miniaturized performance involving two-dimensional representations of characters and objects (The Linear Animal, 2008 and Ear Nose Throat, 2009), as well as elements of Indonesian Gamelan music and shadow play (Semar’s Journey, 2008), and media installations using unconventional speaker technology (Sound Columns, QEP Edmonton 2011). Common to all these projects has been that they investigate of distributed narrative, of shifted or disrupted relationships between storytelling and audience, or between performer and performance.

This project will bring together several aspects of my practice of integrating text, sound and images in developing what I have referred to as an Aesthetic of Disappointment. It continues my ongoing explorations of audio-based installations, paper theatre, and sited performances that combine aspects of acoustic ecology, community-engaged work, and project that focus on creating a framework for a city to describe, remember, and invent itself using a blend of ‘legacy’ technologies, such as cardboard, analog sound recordings, radiophonic interventions, stories and images, presented in an environment that accumulates and transforms data and discourse.

Previous installations such as YVR—The Remembered City (2011) have been concerned with acoustic mapping and memory, particularly in the context of a city like Vancouver, which has been dramatically ‘re-developed’ over the past twenty years, reflecting the collision of colonial social models, the movements of global capital and contested cultural dominance. The tensions that appear in social spaces as a result are mapped using audience memory as it appears in cardboard replicas of disappeared architecture, maps, written and audio commentary, and a cumulative process of exploring the city together.

While I have an interest in the development of contemporary paper theatre as a form that both enables and denies certain types of embodiment considered central to traditional ‘theatre’, I also believe from experiences with projects such as YVR that the involvement with the creation of maps, objects, and the shared experience, offers a mode of interacting with media that neither submerges subjective experience in the datastream, nor valorizes it beyond the larger frame of social and political discourse.

With OTHER SELVES, I am hoping to create a prototype of a system that is part museum, part performance, part sound sculpture, and a dialogue with the expectation created by the frame itself. Rather than a single ‘theme’, the work presents content that can ‘braid’ in any number of ways, analogous to narrative structures that are found in Indonesian Wayang shadowplay. The ‘inaudible’ centre of the work is the notion of a dialogue which can never complete itself, signified at other times by cardboard characters such as the ‘puppet’ of Jeff Koons and Jeff Wall engaged in a pillow fight.

Previous related work:

BEING AND TIME ABRIDGED: Paper Theatre and Audio Project (Preetz and Berlin 2010)

OTHER SELVES SUPPORT 1

 

YVR (see video further below on website) 2011

Paper and Audio Installation, with a film by Chris Welsby, at the Roundhouse Performance Centre based on remembered architecture. Pariciapants constructed lost buildings of Vancouver from single sheet of cardboard and recorded their memories and stories of the locations, which were integrated with material from the World Soundscape project (in collaboration with Hildegard swesterkamp and Darren Copeland). Project Realization with Radix Theatre and the Roundhouse.OTHER SELVES SUPPORT 2

 

 

The Linear Animal: Narrative Paper Theatre/New Media Performance (Western Front 2008)

Paper Theatre/Media Performance Installation that explores concepts of 'home' using live and algorithmic puppetry (in collaboration with Aleksandra Dulic), music and sound (with Kenneth Newby and Stefan Smulovitz).

OTHER SELVES 3

 

SOUND COLUMNS: Audio Installation (Kinsmen Park, Edmonton 2008)

 

OTHER SELVES 4

 

 

X,Y: Paper theatre and New Music Performance Installation, (Western Front 2001)

OTHER SELVES 5

 

 

FISH ON AIR: Radiophonic Media Installation, Elements Festival, Gabriola Island, Lulu Perfoming Arts 2007)

OTHER SELVES 6

 

EAR NOSE THROAT: Paper Theatre, Video and Gamelan Installation, (Roundhouse, 2009)

OTHER SELVES 7

 

 

EMERGENCY MEASURES: Media Installation, (Artspeak Gallery Vancouver 2003)

OTHER SELVES 8

 

V Max: Intravehicular Sound Art Performance (The Spectacular State, 1994)

OTHER SELVES 9

 

PERFORMANCE INSTALLATION

ROUNDHOUSE EXHIBITION SPACE,  VANCOUVER 2013/2014

 

 

Transducers

a set of 'puck' transducers

 

Paper City

Paper Buildings form 'YVR'

 

Jeff and Jeff

Paper Characters from 'The Linear Animal'

 

OTHER SELVES: THE MUSEUM OF INNOCENCE