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South River's SOUNDplay Festival celebrates 20 years of media art

This year's theme is Digital in Nature with an in-person exhibition by Julia White, as well as online screenings, performances and artist talks with Laurel MacDonald, Phil Strong, Véro Marengère, Tansy Xiao and Ben Donoghue.
20210909 Laurel MacDonald I Eat the Stars
Laurel MacDonald will perform 'I Eat the Stars'

South River's Annual SOUNDplay Festival will feature internationally acclaimed and innovative media art as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.

It's an experimental platform for encouraging new avenues of exploration between sound and new media says a news release.

"NAISA's programming theme of Digital in Nature is explored and expanded upon by the artists in this year's SOUNDplay Festival with works that examine relations between human and non-human worlds, perceived and invented reality, as well as human-made and organic phenomena," says Darren Copeland, Artistic Director.

"Like last year, all of the works presented this year include an online element in one form or another, allowing for audiences to attend from wherever they happen to be."

Featured this year is programming on this year's theme Digital in Nature with an in-person exhibition by Julia White, as well as online screenings, performances and artist talks with Laurel MacDonald, Phil Strong, Véro Marengère, Tansy Xiao and Ben Donoghue.

WATER Shadows Exhibition by Julia White opens SOUNDplay Festival Sept 26th. It's an in-person exhibition at the NAISA North Media Arts Centre of sound sculptures by Julia White that celebrates water.  White refers to the audience experience of her exhibitions, "as a 'water temple' complex of steel sculptures wrapped in discarded bicycle inner tubes that one moves through, while a unique sound mix is made blending water-recordings." 

Visitors to the exhibition are invited to participate in WATER Shadows by recording a personal celebration of water that will be shared online as audio in the Web Water Portal.

Starting October 7 on NAISAtube, you can explore a new collection of videos from past NAISA performances from different periods of NAISA's 20-year history.  A highlight among these is Laurel MacDonald's and Phil Strong's impassioned Videovoce performance from 2012, which is also featured on a November 6th online screening along with a new livestream performance by MacDonald called I Eat the Stars, inspired by poems by Rebecca Elson. 

The $10 admission fee is optional.

On November 20 a screening of new media artworks by Tansy Xiao from New York and Véro Marengère from Montréal explores relationships between humans and nature. Tansy Xiao's Bone and Air is inspired by juxtaposing sounds of bone conduction within the human body and air conduction, receiving sounds via the ears.

The video also invites audience members to add vocal sounds conducted by specific images in the video. Roserade by Véro Marengère is a videomusic work that in Marengère's words, "is sometimes frenetic and sometimes contemplative, and it proposes a world that deforms without ever completely destroying or building itself."

From December 6 to 20th, SOUNDplay audiences will have exclusive access to a special online adaptation of the 16mm feature-length film from 2017 by Ben Donoghue called Pierre Radisson: Fjord and Gulf.

The slow observational style of Donoghue's film places the viewer inside the daily activity and environment of a Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaker, providing a window into the invisible labour underpinning the Canadian economy. As Donoghue describes it, "the film brings the deep winter landscapes of coastal Quebec into dialogue with the intensive industrial activity of ore shipments from the mines of the Saguenay – Lac Saint-Jean. The film embraces context, giving duration and breath to the images and sounds of the journey."  

New Adventures in Sound Art is a non-profit sound art organization in South River that is funded in part by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage.