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Monday, March 9th, 2015

Join me in exploring the everyday spaces of our city to see, appreciate and value the complex beauty of our urban ecology.

Previous posts explored the beautiful interaction between people and place, remarkable feets of walking, and what happens when a master gardener meets a tree no one else in this city could love. The truth is I have been building up to a performance art piece inspired by these three stories. The culmination of which will be exhibited at Grow Op at the Gladstone Hotel April 22-26th.

The Setup

All three stories had two common themes: Each involved an ordinary place/object that was unremarkable in every respect. In some cases, it was associated with a negative value, but mostly it was ignored by the passerby. Second a person invested time and energy transforming the physical space.

Each transformed space was out in the open for all to see, appreciate and value the unique visual story left on the land. My role has been to share these stories and provide a guide to the wonderful interplay between people and place.


image courtesy of Mike Burbidge

Ornamental plants allowed to self seed in the cracks of the concrete in an otherwise ordinary landscape.



image courtesy of Mike Burbidge

A man walks around a tree so many times a circle path is formed from footsteps alone.

ElmTopiary_332    image courtesy of Mike Burbidge

A neighbour prunes a tree everyone thinks is a weed into extraordinary shapes.

The Place

The performance art project inspired by these three stories is called BANAL and will take place in and around the Gladstone Hotel.

The TTC bus shelter in front of the Gladstone Hotel is an ordinary part of the landscape. In most cases you only really notice it when you need to use it for shelter. The rest of the time it takes up space on the sidewalk and advertises at you, so we do the most sensible thing and ignore it.

The Installation

BANAL celebrates the value of everyday elements of the landscape and the people who create surprising meaning out of ordinary spaces. The audio/visual stories of BANAL provide the context for an evolving participatory performance over prerecorded samples of the sounds of the city.

The Process

In a way the TTC bus shelter is the perfect setting for a project like this. We sampled local sounds from inside and around the bus shelter. Organic traffic noise and other sounds of the city were then remixed to create the base track for BANAL: SHELTER SESSIONS. Traffic is another element that is native to the audio landscape. We mostly ignore this type of background noise. By taking local, organic audio samples that are native to the area and remixing them in the studio something new emerged.

I like to think of the small samples of audio as snippets of the city’s DNA. Together they form the infrastructure or genetic sequence of the city. The recombining of audio DNA produced an entirely new sound.

The next step is inviting musicians to pollinate the audio track with live performances from inside the bus shelter. A passerby will see a typical bus shelter animated by a musician and on closer inspection will realize that the background music is comprised of naturally occurring organic sounds that occur locally in that place.

Taking audio DNA samples from the landscape, remixing into a new hybrid sound, and pollinating with live sounds ultimately mimics the reproductive process of culture production. So come on down to see and enjoy a new take on the culture of landscape.

I am not sure what will emerge April 22-26th at the Gladstone Hotel but it will look and sound something like this:



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