VIX Sound+Light+Motion


by on Nov.20, 2009, under Events

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I am always curious to see and hear what other Vancouver based electronic media artists are involved in. There are many interesting developments happening in Vancouver and Surrey campuses and one of the academic intersections occurred tonight at the  Surrey Art Centre. Graduate students from Emily Carr and Simon Fraser University School of Interactive Art and Technology were showing some of their work in media arts and a musical performance titled “Acoustic Illusions”. The music performance was described as:

 A series of sound works that experiment with sensory illusion of the aural field.   . . . the performers are Martin
Gotfrit, Peter Bowles and Yota Kobayashi with Mark McGregor.

Martin Gotfrit is a very accomplished electro-acoustic performer/composer and I have heard Mark McGregor play flute at New Music concerts many times before, so I thought it would be worth the long Skytrain ride to get to the event. I had never been to the Surrey Art Centre, even though it is quite close to Vancouver, but the completion of the Canada Line Skytrain, located close to my home, makes it much more convenient to travel to the ends of another municipality.

Another reason I was curious to attend the show is that Brady Marks, who taught the Pure Data classes at Vivo that I recently attended, graduated from the Surrey campus of SFU. Full of anticipation, I read through the list of events.

Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Featuring graduate student projects by Morgan Rauscher, Miles Thorogood,
and Lois Klassen from Emily Carr University of Art + Design; Arefe
Dalvandi, Diego Maranan, and Benjamin Unterman from the School of
Interactive Art and Technology, Simon Fraser University, Surrey; along with
Scott Billings and Julio López from the University of British Columbia
Department of Art History, Fine Art and Theory.

The presentation was held in conjuction with (but not part of) The Interactive Futures Conference: Stereo 09 that gets underway Friday and I may attend more of the events.

After two Skytrain rides, followed by a short bus trip, I arrived at the Surrey Arts Centre just in time, as the music was about to begin. Martin Gotfrit’s piece was first and it was an engaging soundscape that envolved me in a multi-layered landscape of moving sonic imagery. He talked about the importance of reverb in surround sound work and the audio soundscape demonstrated his point. The second work was more intellectual than visceral as the composer/performer worked with very limited somic materials and utilized various techniques including granulation, panning, pitch changes and other time effects to create the work.

The final piece in the series was the only one to include an acoustic musician, flautist Mark McGregor, who had a timed score that synchronized with the composed electronic music. I noticed that both Mark and Yota started the piece by starting their stop watches at the same time. The cues were performed very well and the work took us on a journey that started and ended with a recorded heartbeat and breath. Yota Kobayashi had previously recorded the flute and used some samples with effects to create some rich texture to accompany the live flute, his use of harmonic materials complimented the unpitched samples to create a satisfying pallette of sonic colours.

All of the electronic performers were using pre-programmed material and their live contribution to the composition process consisted of mixing and panning the audio tracks using a 5.1 surround system. The results could be described as “Acoustic Illusions” because the sound images were moved around the room to simulate the motion of a sound producing event, for example, a train passing by.

I had thought there would be more than three works in the series, but I also had a good time exploring the interactive media/visual arts displays. One exhibit was showing a project that was completed in the Phillipines that included a video game about forest preservation. The most interesting part of the project was the waste heat from the water cooled gaming computers warmed algae  ponds. the algae then fed fish. The fish fertilized plants that were housed in the large wooden sculpture that circulated the water. A very complex project that worked really well.

The Emily Carr students put on a good show as well with great variety in the four visual/computer projects that I saw. I plan to explore more of the work that is being done by these two institutions to see if I can get some ideas that will advance my own projects. Now, I can go by Skytrain, I think the Surrey Arts Centre is worth another visit as it was a large building and I only visited one room.

Someone was taking photos and I hope I can source some, to give readers an idea of the visual aspects of the project. I was happy to find that there were arrangements made to shuttle the audience back to the Skytrain or to share a bus ride back to the Granville Island Campus of ECU. I have not had many rides in a Prius, so it is still thrilling to be moving in a soundless vehicle as I was joined by two film students in a ride back to the station.

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