“Noise gives the listener duration as an artifact”
GABI DAO, STEVE HUBERT,
February 11–March 18, 2017
Opening Friday, February 10, 8pm
The title of this show is borrowed from Lisa Robertson’s prose essay ‘Disquiet’. I find myself returning to Robertson in her writings on how noise/sound can constitute a distinct social fabric; how the convergence of the sonic, temporal, spatial is materialized and tethered to place. In acknowledging and being attentive to understanding the ways that we are part of the soundscape, as observers and producers, how does our being simultaneous with it provide a means through which to translate the associations and experiences sound carries? What are the possibilities of listening as a practice that can inform our personal and political agency? In thinking about the systems through which sound circulates, which are the voices that we hear and which are the voices that we do not hear? Works by Vancouver-based artists Gabi Dao, Steve Hubert and DB Boyko offer divergent approaches in their considerations of how the ‘intangible’ nature of sound can be materialized. Their practices navigate the space between transmission of information and reception, listening and response. How do we give and determine form to what is not immediately visually discernable?
Foundational to Boyko’s practice as a vocalist is her consideration of how we work towards resolving our vulnerabilities within sounding and voicing. Boyko’s contributions to the exhibition will consist of two events; a workshop and a concert performance. Influenced by Pauline Oliveros’s Deep Listening practice, Boyko’s workshop sessions The Empty Vessel Makes the Loudest Sound invites participants to conduct an embodied form of listening. These exercises work towards achieving a heightened awareness of sound, silence and sounding, through which one can begin to differentiate between hearing and attentive listening. In consideration of how the act of listening can alter our spatial perception the trio ‘Hubbub’ (of which Boyko is a part) will perform one evening, playing the reverberations of Artspeak’s space through Theremin, Glasses and Cello.
The conch shell has long been an instrument used in ritual and ceremony. To make a public declaration, breath channeled through the form of the conch sounds off an announcement. Here, Gabi Dao’s work Polished Like A Shell a conch shell remains mute. The adjacent radio is tuned to 88.9 FM, a frequency inhabited by those who chose to do so without license. This frequency plays host to Dao’s sound piece Voices Tuned (Like a Native Speaker Speaking, 1988). A layering of voices and intertwined narratives trace the perimeters of disparate dialogues where questions remain unanswered. In Voices Tuned (Like a Native Speaker Speaking, 1988) Dao responds to tapes she found of her mother practicing English. Common questions and phrases that one might find useful if you live in British Columbia; remarks in regards to the weather, inquiring into favourable sea kayaking conditions and other such activities. The fragmented nature of the voices due to variations in accent and tone is further entangled through the use of multiple recording technologies; voices recorded on tape, narratives run through text to speech software, recorded voices with a lowered pitch, mastered and finally experienced and received as a radio broadcast. Voices Tuned becomes a mediation on the process of listening and the various responses that are consequently shaped.
Steve Hubert’s The Rich Interior Life II is a mind map that sketches out the process of listening, hearing and being attentive. There is no singular path or narrative that leads you to any particular destination, only a multiplicity of possibilities. There is no prescribed objective or outcome, only digressions that lead to commas. The viewer equally becomes the author and producer in determining the desired cognitive path. The Rich Interior Life II offers unfettered visual formations in an attempt to decipher what it means to listen, or hear. There’s a generosity that encourages an unlearning and ways to dismantle in order to engage alternatives. Similarly Hubert’s Poster Designs 1-6, are sketches of movie posters found online. They are attempts to map out a visual rhythm, before commencing the gestural painting process. Without obvious symbols and signifiers they behave as a blueprint. The movement and colour India ink of the sketch are almost like morse code flashes. Their formation operates in the manner of a sentence in construction. As it asserts itself, duration remains open ended.
1 Lisa Robertson, Nilling, Bookthug, 2012, 57.