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Cross Waves Series

Cross Waves #8: “Noodaagun. Beacons.”
curated by Jason Ryle

https://soundcloud.com/naisa/cross-waves-8-noodaagun-beacons

As societies based on orality, Indigenous cultures have an intricate and special connection to sound itself. Histories, teachings, stories, and information transmitted from mouth to ear, from ear to heart and mind…and to action. The spirit of Indigenous sound waves - Noodaagun in the Anishinabe language - are explored in this collection of works created by Indigenous artists from across Canada. We are surrounded by Indigenous sound waves and this land has been bathed in the sounds of Indigenous people for millennia. With the recent cultural and artistic renaissance of Indigenous media arts, Indigenous artists working in audio are creating sonic embodiments of their experiences and representations of their culture; aural beacons that invite you to listen and share in the legacy of this land.

Article


Noodaagun. Beacons.
Jason Ryle

The heartbeat is the first sound we hear. Its rhythm sooths us and nurtures us as we prepare to enter this world. The sound of the heartbeat draws a parallel to the drum, an important instrument for most Indigenous cultures and central to many First Nations practises and music. We grow up hearing the drum – in its many incarnations – and its sound reminds us of our time in the womb.

Indigenous cultures share a deep and profound connection to sound in its many forms. As societies built on oral traditions, our histories, teachings, and cosmologies are transferred between people in this intimate way. Knowledge from one person is conveyed, through the ear, to another person’s heart and mind, and eventually informs their actions. Sound in this way – in all its forms – is a spiritual and physical connection to our ancestors and to generations to come.

This intricate and special connection to orality still persists today, as it has over time. Anishinabe teachings – and many other First Nations and Indigenous knowledge – say that the spirits of our ancestors surround us. If we know how to listen, they will guide and teach us on our path through the physical world.

In my mother’s Saulteaux language Noodaagun is the word that best encapsulates “sound” or “noise.” It refers to a physical sound, but also to someone or something making a sound when used in a sentence. It is a word that refers to a sound emanating from someone or someplace – it is a word that intricately connects the noise to the noisemaker…neither can exist without the other.

I’m captivated by the idea of sound existing over time and through generations. Certainly in the past century we have physical audio recordings, but my fascination is predicated on spiritual sounds, on sounds made by our ancestors and how this sound can guide us into the future. It is this notion on which Noodaagun. Beacons. is based.

The North American landmass – known as Turtle Island to some First Nations – is bathed in Indigenous sounds and has been for millennia. From songs sung centuries ago to teachings made in the present, this diverse soundscape surrounds us and reminds us about the importance of listening. Even in our busy urban centres – which are now home to the majority of First Nations people in Canada – these sounds exist and implore us to listen.

I also contemplate the Seven Generations teaching; the practise that what we do today impacts people and the land decades into the future. It’s a teaching that promotes long-term thinking and one that instils a sense of caring and responsibility in our actions.

With the rise of Indigenous pride and awareness in the 21st century – a veritable renaissance of Indigenous cultures and arts – the power of audio has never been more apparent. The history of colonisation is one of silence and oppression. Oral Indigenous teachings and histories were, by Canadian law, forbidden or actively dismissed. Gatherings of Indigenous people were outlawed or heavily controlled. In other words, Indigenous people became largely invisible in the national realm, relegated to the past or embodied in harmful stereotypes perpetuated in the media and education systems.

While Indigenous soundscapes became disrupted or went underground, they were not altogether broken. Sounds still lingered in the land and in the air. Culture bearers maintained stories and passed them to new generations. Indigenous artists too became a lifeblood of Indigenous orality.

The artists selected as part of the audio component of Cross Waves embody in many ways the vital importance of sound to Indigenous lives and realities, just as they speak to the power of survival and rejuvenation of Indigenous cultures and peoples. For me, their work – like those working in other disciplines and practises – are bellwethers for cultural pride, beauty, and strength. They are aural beacons that invite listeners to stop, listen, and contemplate the stories, histories, and teachings they embody – often heard by many for the first time. For me, they also serve as sonic time capsules for the future – leaving a legacy for generations to come that will serve to guide the minds and actions of all who make the time to listen and contemplate; “sonic spirits” that linger after our time on the physical earth is over.

The heartbeat is present in much of their work as is the evocation of land and other physical spaces. They speak to struggles – both personal and shared – and to the perseverance and beauty of culture. The power of sound to embody and shape a physical space or concept becomes evident through their work, and in the work of other Indigenous sound artists working internationally, from Sámi joiks to the songlines of Indigenous Australian nations. For me, the works in the Noodaagun. Beacons. broadcast all have physical forms, however abstract some may manifest. It is a landscape inviting us all to visit and feel.

Collectively these works speak to the unbroken aural links between the past, present, and future that guide our hands today. And how these works – like all great art – have the ability to connect people of all cultures, ethnicities, and histories, if only we take the time to listen to the beacons that stand tall amongst us.

Performances

Cross Waves #8: “Noodaagun. Beacons.”
curated by Jason Ryle


By Janet Rogers
January 22, 2016, 8:00 pm
http://naisa.ca/festivals/cross-waves-series/
at Trinity Square Video, 401 Richmond Street West #376, Toronto

General $10
Cross Waves is a Canadian Sound Art series that includes performances and internet radio programs curated by eight media artists representing different regional and cultural perspectives in Canada. The series is taking place between July 2014 and February 2016. The content is contextualized by the curators through commentaries and essays and draws attention to Sound Artists from across Canada. The eighth in the series, entitled “Noodaagun Beacons” is curated by Jason Ryle. Ryle’s series will begin broadcasting in February on NAISA Radio everyday at noon, 8pm and 4am on NAISA Radio (www.naisa.ca/naisa-radio). A concert featuring “Playing Radio Sound Performance” by Janet Rogers, alongside works from Ryle’s Cross Waves #8 radio programme will be presented on January 22.

Introduction by Jason Ryle

Program:
I. Assimilation by Judith Schuyler (Oneida)
Indigenous concepts of sovereignty and urban identity are explored in this short work that gives a response to the concept of freedom from the perspective of a young urban Indigenous female.
II. freek¡Üwhency by Janet Rogers (Mohawk/Tuscarora), 2011
Exploring themes of identity, politics, cultural reshaping and forgiveness, artist Janet Rogers crafts an audio experience utilizing sound compositions, interviews and sound poetry to evoke the “spirit of radio.” Rogers creates an audio time capsule of contemporary Indigeneity in Canada.
III. Score for the Bottom of a Lake by Suzanne Morrissette (Cree/Métis)
A moving, meditative aural landscape of a lake bottom; the mixture of sounds form an audio tribute to a physical place that few humans can experience.
IV. Kikinaw by Cheryl L’Hirondelle (Cree/Métis/European)
In this “soundmark”, the artist evokes and represents the identity, spirit and form of a tepee, with a refrain that that says “our home, all of us, together, all beings.”
V. Nikamowin (Song) by Kevin Lee Burton (Swampy Cree), 2007
Creating a linguistic soundscape through aural elements of Cree, Kevin Lee Burton weaves sound and image with a political and rhythmic resonance. Exploring diverse landscapes by remixing their formal textures, the construction of this work – originally an experimental video – underscores questions of how languages emerge, exist, transform and dissolve.
VI. Playing Radio Sound (performance) by Janet Rogers (Mohawk/Tuscarora)
Using average clock radios, Janet Rogers will present a sound performance using digital tuning, static, sound, song, voice, alarms and body. Radio waves exist within time and frequency. The medium of radio requires expressive signals and receivers. One little clock radio offers so much information and uses. Rogers will play (with) four clock radios in a performance to exemplify how we receive this information and signals.

Radio

Cross Waves #8: “Noodaagun. Beacons.”
curated by Jason Ryle

https://soundcloud.com/naisa/cross-waves-8-noodaagun-beacons

The Spirit of Radio Indigenous (6 mins, 2015) by Janet Rogers

The spirit of Indigenous audio – its breath and personality – is contemplated. The artist makes an assured statement to the power of radio Indigenous and our responsibility to the land and air.

Being Indian (5 mins) by Janet Rogers

An audio poem about the “Indian condition” and a comment on contemporary Indigenous identity.

Corn Bred (5.5 mins) by Janet Rogers

Indigenous sovereignty and identity are asserted in this audio poem.

Calls to Action (6 mins) by Janet Rogers

A powerful activist spirit – and a real call to positive change – are strongly evident in this audio poem.

Remnants of the Commons (3 mins, 2013) by Jordan Bennett

The spirit of Indigenous resistance overlays Neil Young’s classic song Heart of Gold. The artist creates an aural tribute to – and a stand of solidary with – the citizens of the Elsipogtog First Nations in defence of their sovereignty.

(9 min, 2014) by Caroline Monnet

Contact microphones running over metal chains create a wonderful sense of movement – and a touch of the foreboding – in this sound installation.

Balloon Duo (3 mins, 2014) by Caroline Monnet

A woman and a man each blow and deflate a balloon. Their breaths become a force of their own as the sounds of each blend to take on a completely amorphous tone, especially when combined with the sound created by the balloons themselves.

Karenniyohston – Old Song Made Good (14 mins, 2012) by Zoe Leigh Hopkins & Brian Maracle

A father and daughter – a teacher and student – explore the power of the Mohawk language through the playful subversion of the national anthems of Canada, the UK, and the USA.

Unleash Your Inner Warrior (10 mins, 2011) by Joey Shaw

A personal reflection of identity and purpose, the artist – a poet, lyricist and vocalist – interweaves soundscapes, interviews and his own spoken word and musical beats into a raw, honest glimpse into the lives of urban Indigenous youth.

Assimilation (1.5 mins, 2012) by Judith Schuyler

Indigenous concepts of sovereignty and urban identity are explored in this short work that gives a response to the concept of freedom from the perspective of a young urban Indigenous female.

Dream Walker (1.5 mins, 2012) by Michele Lonechild (Ojibway/Plains Cree)

A short, dreamlike soundscape invites the listeners to contemplate other realities where freedom reigns.

Untitled (1.5 mins, 2012) by Leslie McCue (Ojibway)

Urban Indigenous realities are sonically amplified and critically examined.

Stillness (4.5 mins, 2012) by Cheyenne Scott (Coast Salish)

A contemplation on the nature of freedom – in all its complexities – is meditatively explored.

The Mi’kmaq’Ki of Minigoo – 150 Corrupted Minds (2 mins) by Jordan Bennett (Mi’kmaq)

The spirit of Indigenous youth is sonically expressed in this work that explores the meaning of Canadian Federation to Mi’kmaq youth from PEI.

Nikamowin (Song) (11 mins, 2007) by Kevin Lee Burton (Swampy Cree)

Creating a linguistic soundscape through aural elements of Cree, Kevin Lee Burton weaves sound and image with a political and rhythmic resonance. Exploring diverse landscapes by remixing their formal textures, the construction of this work – originally an experimental video – underscores questions of how languages emerge, exist, transform and dissolve.

Kikinaw by (3.5 mins) Cheryl L’Hirondelle (Cree/Métis/European)

In this “soundmark”, the artist evokes and represents the identity, spirit and form of a tepee, with a refrain that that says “our home, all of us, together, all beings.”

maskihkiya mêskanaw" (2 mins) by Cheryl L’Hirondelle

In this ‘soundmark’, the artists sings the healing plant medicines found near the Humber River and advisers listeners to give thanks to the beings that created them.

Each Portion (6 mins) by Lisa Myers (Anishinabe)

The relationships between geography, memories, and food is explored through audio of of berries at sites in Ontario. The berry picking is reconstructed as a rhythmic beat, reminiscent of a drum or a jingle dress dancer at a powwow.

Score for the Bottom of a Lake (9 mins) by Suzanne Morrissette (Cree/Métis)

A moving, meditative aural landscape of a lake bottom; the mixture of sounds form an audio tribute to a physical place that few humans can experience.

Singing Our Bones Home (9 mins) by Julie Nagam (Metis/Anishinabe)

A homage to the buried bodies in the Markham Ossurary in Ontairo, this sonic work also pays respect to the Indigenous people who lived on the site for centuries, while challenging the myth of terra nullius.

Horse (10 mins) by Archer Pechawis (Cree)

A powerful spoken word recounts the story of a nation of warriors taking a stand at a pivotal moment in Indigenous history.

Sasquatch (6 mins, 2015) by Janet Rogers

The spirit and sovereignty of non-human beings is playfully explored in this audio tribute to Sasquatch.

freek¡Üwhency (8 mins, 2011) by Janet Rogers (Mohawk/Tuscarora)

Exploring themes of identity, politics, cultural reshaping and forgiveness, artist Janet Rogers crafts an audio experience utilizing sound compositions, interviews and sound poetry to evoke the “spirit of radio.” Rogers creates an audio time capsule of contemporary Indigeneity in Canada.

Bios

No artists for upcoming events programmed yet. Please check later for updates.