Guest Blog Day 2: Lori Clarke

The Official Sound Symposium XVII Blog is live! Throughout the festival, we’ll be posting reviews and musings about some key events, written by our guest bloggers Lori Clarke, Kevin Hehir, and Michelle Bush. Stay tuned!

Installation: Andrea Cooper’s Too Far North // Eastern Edge Gallery

by Lori Clarke, July 5th, 2014

Andrea Cooper’s Too Far North

I’ve been involved with Andrea Cooper as a sound design collaborator since 2002 when her video installation work featured giant, heroic women appearing in unlikely Newfoundland landscapes. My perspective on Andrea’s work, therefore, is biased. I am, however, privileged with some insider micro-scoop while also being able to back up and see Too Far North in the context of a large body of work, a continually evolving art practice and nuanced gaze that comes from life experience.

Andrea’s work articulates a difficult edge between the emotional heart of intimate human connection, and the struggle to make sense of our complicity in the destruction of the earth. She doesn’t do this by leaving town. She engages habitats and species, and people grieving amidst the onslaught of those images of the cutest cats (aww), hyper-sexualized bodies, guns, disappearing landscapes and disintegrating personae.

Her participation is not psychoanalytic, but does move from self-consciousness to a deepening of awareness of the hidden undergarments of psyche, of soul.

In Too Far North, Cooper is unapologetic. Humans use anthropomorphism. We do it all the time. We see nature and project ourselves and invest meaning. We make metaphors, almost always through some kind of improvisational process, whether with words, images, whether alone with paper, at a computer, or in a room with another person using instruments of wood, metal and skin. Cooper’s improvisation occurs in the writing, and later in the editing and juxtaposing of images, it is not linear but emerges from a deeper narrative from the underbelly cut open, climbed into and scraped for meaning. It is deliciously ambiguous. Too Far North is about longing, about grieving missing (misplaced?) intimacy. We remain removed as audience and possibly uncomfortable, reminded of our separation and longing. It does not fall into cultural nostalgia nor the recapitulation of activist stances dug in- this would be unbearably dull.

Voices of lovers invite us to engage as lovers who be/long. Ice, like liquid water, is characterized by its movement (which is change), and its sound or voice. Liquid takes the form of its container until it bursts the banks, while cold ice pans and the architecture of icebergs change violently. Suddenly the key doesn’t fit the lock anymore- we are “no longer welcome here.” “Listen” the polar bear whispers.

Guest Blog Day 1: Lori Clarke

The Official Sound Symposium XVII Blog is live! Throughout the festival, we’ll be posting reviews and musings about some key events, written by our guest bloggers Lori Clarke, Kevin Hehir, and Michelle Bush. Stay tuned!

Concert: Black Auks; Patrick Boyle & Greg Bruce; ArKora // LSPU Hall

by Lori Clarke

The Black Auks: Improvisations

The music of the Black Auks emerges from many years forged together, playing and listening. Wallace Hammond, Mack Furlong, Neil Rosenberg and Craig Squires, are playful, sometimes (rarely) solemn- that is to say they’re present with what is happening. They are listening and moving with each other through the space between and around them. Each brings to the ensemble his incredible breadth of listening, playing and careful consideration of the poetics of improvisation.

And I don’t mean “careful consideration” in the sense of carefulness at the expense of rawness or dropping into a groove. Improvisers carry responsibility in engaging with the space between us, sometimes lightening the load of seriousness, sometimes calling attention to the sufferings of the human heart and layerings of emotion. The Auks are more on the side of lightening the load with their playfulness and this is what audiences know them for most. To improvise means to be present and to allow the meanings in the room (and afar) to condense, like sweat on the skin, as a vibration in the air, as a sound, sometimes laughter rising from the belly. Another time a tear.

When Neil Rosenberg shook a rattle (away from his microphone) to each direction, above his head and towards those around him, it was clear to me that the Black Auks played more than a set- this was an invocation. The Black Auks’ invited the audience to join in opening this, the seventeenth Sound Symposium. This ensemble composed of some of the backbone of the Sound Symposium community, since the beginning call into presence those who we remember and whose lives we celebrate.

Don Wherry, Mike Zagorski, and most recently Edyth Goodridge (who I learned tonight was integral during the labour and delivery of the first Sound Symposium in 1983) are no longer with us. We honour their presence, not through nostalgia but through a celebration of improvisation and the ways of knowing that it generates for generations of artists.

Patrick Boyle & Greg Bruce: 10-4 Standby

Patrick Boyle and Greg Bruce are each prolific, hybridized interlocutors. 10-4 Standby is a trio for trumpet, saxophone, and live emergency response radio feed. Patrick opened by asking if there were any emergency responders present in the theatre. There were at least two. The piece bridged the space between real emergency responders in North American urban settings, the audience and the breath of the improvising responders in the room. Exploring assumptions about empathy is the conceptual framework suggested in the program notes for this piece, and not having read the notes before the show, I would suggest that an empathic field was generated. What I noticed was a communal response amidst textures, spacious close harmonies, gentle tasty flourishes and the coded dialect and meanings of the emergency radio voices.

This piece sounds in contrast to a mass media proliferation of emergency response sounds and images. The improvisers’ commitment to exploring the heart of the matter opens the space for contemplation- a deep listening field in which non-verbal intimacy is possible. Here, emergency responder sounds are rendered transcendent as metaphors for our empathy and for our absence from the scene of those social emergencies in which we are complicit.



Night Music #133

Night Music number 133 is Thursday, June 19 @ The Ship Pub!

Anchor Band is: Big Space

Time: 9:30pm
Cover: $5.00

All Improvisers Welcome!

Night Music is a monthly series of improv events, where a local band does a set of their own music, and then serves as a basis for improvisations into the night. The band invites special guests, if they wish, and is responsible for at least some of the organization of further activities.

This is not an “open mic”, but all players are invited to come down and join us in the fun. Our aim is to stretch our ears, take some risks and push some boundaries. Any bands interested in ‘anchoring’ are most welcome to contact me, especially those who have ‘outside’ or improv inclinations.

Are you a member of the basement avant-garde? Come on out!