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September 17, 2017
by nais1357
Comments Off on Circuit-Bending Art

Circuit-Bending Art

by Nadene Thériault-Copeland

(published in the monthly column We Have Art in Our Nature for the Nipissing Reader, Volume 13 (09) 2017)

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you could modify the sounds an electronic toy would make? What if you could find a new purpose for those old electronic gadgets kicking around in that closet or in the garage? Well, here are some examples of people who have done that for artistic purposes…

Circuit-bending can be traced back to recordings made by Reed Ghazala in the late 60s. Of the discovery itself, Ghazala relates…

“The year was ’66 or ’67. I had left a toy 9-volt transistor amplifier amidst the clutter of my desk drawer, the back of its housing missing and with the power turned on. When I closed the drawer, to my amazement, there suddenly came from within my desk miniature versions of the sounds I associated with the massive synthesizers of the day … When I realized that the sounds I heard were the result of the toy amplifier’s electronics accidentally shorting out against something metallic it was resting on, two ideas immediately struck:

If these sounds are being created by accident, what could be done by purpose? If this can be done to an amplifier, meant to amplify a sound but to make NO SOUND itself, what would happen to SOUND-MAKING electronics when purposely shorted-out in the same way?”  Reed Ghazala in an interview with Jason Gross

NAISA’s new fall exhibit, to be launched on September 22nd at NAISA North Media Arts Centre, includes a series of art works created by London Ontario artist James Kirkpatrick.  The series of sculptures, entitled “Sound Mods of James Kirkpatrick” are all created from circuit-bending various audio devices.  Not only is the exhibit visually stunning, but the individual pieces are interactive and so the gallery goer is encouraged to play the sounds and by doing so, create their own unique experience.

Go to the SOUNDplay website for more info.

Also known for his participation in the early Canadian graffiti movement and as avant-garde hip-hop artist “Thesis Sahib”, Kirkpatrick works in a variety of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, zines, mask-making and experimental sound improvisation.  In recent years, his work has incorporated sculptural, kinetic and auditory elements. 

By combining his 2D aesthetic with custom-built circuit-bent electronics, Kirkpatrick creates hand-held sculptures that function as both musical instruments and experimental sound machines. The sculptures are extensions of Kirkpatrick’s drawing and painting practice and are also used in his collaborations and live performances.

Click on these links for more information

James Kirkpatrick

Reed Ghazala interview


Nadene Thériault-Copeland is the Executive Director of New Adventures in Sound Art and co-owner of Warbler’s Roost in South River.  She studied composition with James Tenney at York University where she received her B.A. Spec. Hons. Music in 1991.  naisa@naisa.ca

July 17, 2017
by nais1357
Comments Off on Why Artists are Making Installations

Why Artists are Making Installations

by Nadene Thériault-Copeland

(published in the monthly column We Have Art in Our Nature for the Nipissing Reader, Volume 13 (07) 2017)

In 2002 I edited a book for NAISA entitled the Sign Waves Companion in which I included articles by several artists whose works NAISA had presented in previous years.

Much of the content and discussions within these articles are still pertinent today, as I still often get asked questions that reflect a desire to understand the artist’s intent as well as why the artist is using time and space as their medium.

So why would an artist choose to create an installation exhibit?

When asked why he choses to present his works as sound sculpture installations, Toronto artist Bentley Jarvis relates that it is both a better way to engage an audience and a way to allow him to perform works that are longer in duration.  Having a slowly evolving installation allows audience to spend as much or as little time experiencing it as they like.

South River composer and installation artist Darren Copeland refers to his installations as using “sound to alter the experience of space. The installations create a mood or atmosphere for a particular space and also focus attention on important features that might not be readily known, such as important cultural events associated with its past.”

Calgary artist David Eagle refers to sound installations as not needing to have a clear beginning, middle, or end. “When we walk along a path and listen – for instance, in the mountains or a forest – we do not expect a contrived climax to arrive, rather we experience and immerse ourselves in the environment. This is the way to experience a sound installation, to listen openly and without expectation, to listen both spatially and temporally.”

Toronto Installation artist Nicholas Longstaff has created very experiential installations.  He feels that “Installation art should consider and confront pivotally human questions on a personal level. It should allow the participants to slide out of the artist’s delivery of ideas and into an internal examination or genesis of their own ideas.”

Through her use of installation and new media, Tania Etienne relates that she is better “able to explore the idea of transformation through the environment, materials and objects, as well as the … responsiveness of these aspects to each other and to the audience’s presence… They [the audience] become both ‘performers’ transforming the environment with their presence, and active ‘spectators’ finding the story. The theatre’s fourth wall is removed. The participants are not merely watching the play, they are part of it. They are not simply listening to the story, but, rather, actively finding it.”

All above quotes are from the Sign Waves Companion published by NAISA in 2002.  

June 19, 2017
by nais1357
Comments Off on World Listening Day

World Listening Day

by Nadene Thériault-Copeland

(published in the monthly column We Have Art in Our Nature for the Nipissing Reader, Volume 13 (06) 2017)

July 18 is World Listening Day, an annual global event first initiated in 2010 by the World Listening Project to commemorate the birthday of R. Murray Schafer, a Canadian composer, music educator and writer who is known for his influential book “The Tuning of the World” and his role in the World Soundscape Project. Schafer first coined the term soundscape, referring to the soundscape as an acoustic environment consisting of events heard, rather than objects seen.

World Listening Day 2017 is an opportunity to consider and engage one another with an ear to our environment, to understand our shared role in making and listening across generations, disciplines and communities, and to reflect and honor the life and legacy of Pauline Oliveros, an influential pioneer of electronic music composition and improvisation, and a founder of the practice Deep Listening.

This year’s theme is “Listening to the Ground”

“Sometimes we walk on the ground, sometimes on sidewalks or asphalt, or other surfaces. Can we find ground to walk on and can we listen for the sound or sounds of ground? Are we losing ground? Can we find new ground by listening for it?”—Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016)

New Adventures in Sound Art’s World Listening Day events are on July 15 with composer and sound healer Wendalyn Bartley (workshop and performance at NAISA North Media Arts Centre in South River).

Take a 1/2 hour out of your day on July 18th and go on a soundwalk.

What is a soundwalk? In a soundwalk, we listen to the environment around us by (re)focusing our ears so that we can listen without relying on visual input.  During a SOUNDwalk, we can focus on many aspects of the acoustic environment by: listening as if it were a musical composition, in which all of the parts are creating a piece for us; listening socially for sounds that effect and interact with each other, as in ‘call and response,’ or a conversation: listening for special resonances where a footstep might echo or bounce off structures in interesting ways.


World Listening Project

Aracana Editions carries all of R. Murray Schafer’s educational books

World Forum for Acoustic Ecology

New Adventures in Sound Art


Nadene Thériault-Copeland is the Executive Director of New Adventures in Sound Art and co-owner of Warbler’s Roost in South River. She studied composition with James Tenney at York University where she received her B.A. Spec. Hons. Music in 1991. naisa@naisa.ca