APRIL 23 - 26 2009


The Contact Zone

The second program began with three videos by Kevin Jerome Everson including his 2007 short According to… which consists of three stories of murder, apparently decades old,  each told twice and punctuated by scenes of an elderly man collecting his newspaper from his front porch. The stories are represented as news reports, whether or not the incidents described and footage accompanying them are complete fictions or actual events, I’m unsure. I’m inclined to think they’re a combination, consequently pointing both to how the reporting of current events ought to be received with a critical eye, but also how that reportage becomes part of history, a history that can be mined to unearth new histories. Rea Tajiri’s History and Memory came to mind.

The Contact Zone Crew performance was probably one of the most anticipated events of Signal + Noise 2009, and the Wayde Compton and Jason de Couto did not disappoint. The half hour of turntable-based sound poetry saw a minimum of audience fidgeting and during the Q&A Compton and de Couto were complimented for several things including their commitment to crate digging, rather than staring into laptops.  This element of commitment is something I spoke about more generally with sound artist Sara Gold (whose work appeared in the Immortal Noise program) earlier in the week. In conversation with Gold the commitment admired was related to endurance over time, performances over hours or days. I wondered about how perhaps this element of commitment and endurance that impresses audiences has to do with legitimizing work in this age of appropriation, if it somehow makes up for the loss of Romantic or Modern notions of originality and newness. Though some might argue that those notions have been challenged, not excised, and that when appropriated elements are combined by artists such as Compton and de Couto, with thought and sincerity, something new does emerge.  

credit: Sarah Young

Michael Bell Smith | Chapters 1-12 of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet Synced and Played Simultaneously | 2005 | 4:22mins | BetaSP | USA

Kevin Jerome Everson | Undefeated | 2008 | 1:30mins | 16mm/DV | USA | Canadian Premiere

Studies 1 Through 12

Of the 12 jury selected shorts that opened the third and traditionally last (though not this year) of Signal + Noise 2009 there were some definitely some audience favourites. Jay Rosenblatt’s I Just Wanted to Be Somebody, a sort of thank you letter to 70s spokes-model turned anti-gay activist Anita Bryant for her unwitting role in helping to mobilize the gay community in Florida’s Dade County and across America, was met with cheers and laughter. A rhetorically clever work, as Rosenblatt meets hate fueled by fear and ignorance with gratitude, and a healthy bit of tongue in cheek. Brandon Blommaert’s (in attendance) Greycon 4 was also a hit, an awesome piece of stop motion and digital animation where a plush character with “duplication juice” for blood has to assassinate his accidental clone, or not; Blommaert expressed amusement at the variety of narratives he’d heard imposed on the work, and seemed to think them all viable. While the 12 videos shown also contained work of a more conceptual nature (Jeff Langille was thoroughly quizzed for the lack of sound in his Garden, Vancouver, 2008), the audience were feeling a little more amped up, no doubt in anticipation of the evening’s second program…

Guli Silberstein, Excerpt

Dancing In Our Debt

Riding hard from the West End, I arrived late and tried to catch up to the bank crawl - first stop was RBC on Cambie and Broadway but when I arrived a little after 11pm, inside there was nothing but a shiny new lobby and a security guard standing watch behind glass. With no music to be heard, I rode up to 10th and Cambie to the Vancity on a whim - lo and behold the ATM room was packed and bands played and people were indeed prompted to dance inside the steamy room. Behind me a girl shouted a challenge: “I have $27,000 in debt -  can anyone beat that?” Silence. I think we had a winner.  Caught a lot of fantastic, random music, not sure who was who, but the Rub came on and wooed us with accordian, glocks and upright bass. The atmosphere outside was party-like - the low awning overhead providing a comfortable, and sheltered, nook to hang out in and the music seemed to keep going. I split from there after a while….curious where the next performance was held and who played. Midnight was upon us, and it was time to roll on. 
credit: David Niddrie