Lorna Brown is a Vancouver artist, curator and educator. Since 1984 her work has been shown in exhibitions at Dazibao, Montreal; Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Gallery 44, Toronto; Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa; Taipei Fine Arts Museum; and Artspeak, Vancouver, among others. Her recent independent curatorial projects include Set and Group Search: art in the library. Director/Curator of Artspeak 1999–2004.
Whether through performance art, experimental video, photographs, recipes, interventions in gallery windows, or creative/critical writing, Randy Lee Cutler’s practice explores the aesthetics of appetite and embodiment. She has authored numerous essays published in C magazine, Pyramid Power, The Fillip Review, FUSE magazine, Vancouver Art & Economies, Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture, West Coast LINE, n.paradoxa, Blackflash Magazine, Canadian Art and Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art on topics as diverse as digestion, truth-telling, orientalism, feminism, photography and social change. Originally from Montreal, she lives in Vancouver where she maintains an experimental relationship with pedagogy, gardening and reading.
Janice Kerbel studied at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and completed her graduate work at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. She is currently (1999) visiting lecturer at CalArts in Los Angeles.
La Salle des Noeuds (pedestrian movements)
DANIEL JOLLIFFE, JOCELYN ROBERT
September 9–October 14, 2000
As the first in this series of exhibitions, Artspeak is pleased to present La Salle des Noeuds (pedestrian movements). Drawing on research completed in the summer of 1999 at the STEIM centre for electroacoustic research in Amsterdam, Vancouver artist Daniel Jolliffe and Quebec composer and artist Jocelyn Robert have developed a collaborative sound installation work which takes as its central theme and process the surveillance network of global positioning satellites in constant orbit around the earth. The installation makes use of the ‘cyber sky’ composition of US military/aerospace GPS technology, established to aid in military applications and designed for precision, control and certitude. This technology has found mass market applications from automobile design to recreation and is used in this new work as both method and subject of artistic inquiry.
La Salle des Noeuds (pedestrian movements) takes the information on the position and identifier data of the orbiting overhead satellite network, and converts it to music played by a stationary grand piano. By inverting the technologies and their intended use, the work playfully subverts notions of military and computer-based accuracy. La Salle des Noeuds (pedestrian movements) streams, sifts, chops up and spits out the continuous data flow meant for the single purpose of navigating human movement and fixing civilian and military locations. The resultant stream is processed and parsed by a sound composing system which tries to make musical sense of the network’s activities. The compositionally unpredictable outcome is a unique aural narrative for each of the earth’s rotations, informed by the satellites’ position and the reconfiguration of the data provided, placing the viewer at the centre of an enormous network, watching and hearing the movements of the satellites themselves.
Artist Statement: La Salle des Noeuds (pedestrian movements) explores the disparate rulesets of science, programming and military structures on one hand and the musical and visual aesthetics of art on the other.
Loosely translated, the phrase La Salle des Noeuds refers to two ideas: the old technology and symbolism of a rope knots and the new concept of an electronic network node. Both speak of the interconnectedness of two physical bodies, be they the fibres of a rope or the organized movement of electrons through a digital network. The connected parties in LSdN begin in principle with the GPS satellite network and the musical conventions of a 300 year old device, the piano.
La Salle des Noeuds is a convergence of two rulesets: the rules of coding and the rules of composition. LSdN is a performance of the collision of these two rulesets. Going further we can say that LSdN explores the knotted nature of the digital network on our everyday lives- and how this network translates poetically and aesthetically as we perceive it.
LSdN takes as a starting supposition that music is about the way in which it is produced, rather than the quality of composition, playing or notation. A piano played under the rocket fire of wartime Beirut, or LSdN’s piano-manipulated satellite data are both music produced under the current conditions of our society, mirroring the social state of our world rather than an historical one. In this sense LSdN’s performance is not one of music but an aural translation of the technologized world which we inhabit.
Positions and Reversals
Artspeak, Latitude N 49 degrees 16.971′ Longitude W 123 degrees 06.242′ EPE : 20 M, a stationary, position expressed in conventional geographic notation. LSdN inhabits this position in relation to the network which it sets out to examine.
From this position, the sky is obscured by the light of the city, rendering invisible the 27 GPS satellites passing overhead in semi-synchronous, 12 hour orbits. Only the radio waves emitted by these floating bodies pass through the various strata of atmosphere between us and their orbit at an altitude of around 11,000 miles.
The collaborative process for LSdN began with the instantaneous data being streamed from the orbiting constellation of Global Positioning Satellites. From this feed of precise timing information, the position of the gallery is triangulated. In turn, from this symbolic, numbered representation of our place on earth we set out to track the reverse of the intended ‘pinpoint process’.
Visitors to art galleries often come away with a catch phrase describing the work they have just seen. The transferable explanation from viewer to viewer of LSdN will likely be something like ‘a piano played by satellites’. At first glance this is the structure but is not the methodology of LSdN.
Inverting the intended use of the GPS network, we found that each satellite sent instantaneous updates of its azimuth, elevation, and unique identifier code. We took this live data as a source of influence, and allowed it to dictate the outcome of our process, and to expose itself in doing so. La Salle des Noeuds is not music but rather the creation of sound under the direct influence of the scientific data which we have more or less plucked out of the air. As collaborators we have little interest in the aesthetics of the ‘music’ produced by the piano. LSdN sets out instead to make visible the collision of these two cultures and to physicalize the invisible data.
A Set of Suspicions
Artspeak’s Carrall Street location is part of a neighbourhood that faces contradictory pressures and changes: the area is well traveled by tourists; gentrification is taking place through artist’s live/work developments; high density new housing on the north side of False Creek rubs shoulders with the abandoned storefronts and decay of East Hastings Street. The ubiquitous presence of location film crews in the area allow for a sense of overlapping fact and fiction—one may encounter a snowy Edwardian English scene played out on Gastown’s cobble streets only to turn a corner and interrupt a gritty crime narrative (actual or virtual) taking place behind the dumpsters in the alley. If you are familiar with this neighbourhood you will have noticed that the codes of gesture, utterance, dress and deportment are significantly broader and more diverse than other areas of the city. Homelessness and other socio-economic factors make for a confused boundary between private and public space. An acute awareness of threat and security is heightened by the notoriety of this neighbourhood in media representations. Public and private policing merge and cross the very visible yet mobile boundaries between the various terrains of short and long term inhabitants.
A Set of Suspicions presents a fall series of exhibitions and events by artists investigating ideas of threat, security and suveillance. The works use the gallery space to index specific off-locations: the proposed street cameras just beyond our doors; the hyper-watched financial district of London, England; a university biotech lab; and the mobile ‘watching machines’ that orbit the earth. A Set of Suspicions integrates visual art, writing, video, performance, electronics design and music composition to consider the proliferation of technology, privacy and public identities and cultural habits of interpretation.
Artspeak is a member of the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres (PAARC). Artspeak gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council, The Province of BC through the BC Arts Council, the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Foundation, Canadian Heritage, our Board of Directors, volunteers and our members.
A Set of Suspicions has been generously supported by the Vancouver Foundation and The Canada Council through the Interdisciplinary Arts Program.
Jocelyn Robert thanks the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Quebec for their support.
TERI SNELGROVE, JOCELYN ROBERT, DANIEL JOLLIFFE, WARREN ARCAN, SHELLEY GUHLE, JOSH SCHAFER, SUSAN STEWART, JANICE KERBEL, LORNA BROWN, RANDY LEE CUTLER, DENIS GAUTIER, KATHLEEN RITTER, ALLYSON CLAY
April 6, 2001
Artspeak Gallery will host the launching event for the publication accompanying the exhibition titled A Set of Suspicions, as well as a video screening of one of the show’s artists, Teri Snelgrove, part of Suspects (Performance for the Police).
Title: A Set of Suspicions
Category: Exhibition Catalogue
Artist: Warren Arcan, Shelley Guhle, Daniel Jolliffe, Janice Kerbel, Jocelyn Robert, Josh Schafer, Teri Snelgrove, Susan Stewart
Writers: Lorna Brown, Randy Lee Cutler, Denis Gautier, Kathleen Ritter
Design: Steedman Design
Printer: Rainbow Press Ltd., Vancouver
Year published: 2001
Binding: Perfect Bound
Features: 3 b&w images, 46 colour images, plastic jacket cover
Dimensions: 11.5 x 20 x 1.2 cm
Weight: 153 g
Price: $20 CDN
A Set of Suspicions documents a series of three exhibitions over the Fall 2000 season by artists investigating ideas of threat, security and surveillance. The works used the gallery space to index specific off-locations: the proposed street cameras just beyond our doors; the hyper-watched financial district of London, England; a university biotech lab; and the mobile ‘watching machines’ that orbit the earth. A Set of Suspicions integrates visual art, writing, video, performance, electronics design and music composition to consider the proliferation of technology, privacy and public identities as well as cultural habits of interpretation.
Designed by Judith Steedman, A Set of Suspicions includes photographic documentation of the three exhibitions, writing by Lorna Brown, Randy Lee Cutler, Denis Gautier and Kathleen Ritter. An artist’s project, Improper Perspectives, by Allyson Clay was produced for A Set of Suspicions.