Steve Gibson, Julie Andreyev, and Randy
January 26-29, 2006
Open Space, Victoria, British Columbia,
Event website: http://cfisrv.finearts.uvic.ca/interactivefutures/frequencies.html
Reviewed by Dene Grigar
Texas Womans University
Without a doubt, we have become an audio
culture.  Walk into any grocery
storein the U.S., at leastand
you will see people pushing carts down
the aisle with one hand and holding a
cell phone to their ear with the other.
Students come to class plugged into their
iPods. Televisions blast away at airports
and restaurants. Webpages belt out sound
files. No decent minivan would be complete
without speakers in the back seat. When
in 1967 Marshall McLuhan wrote in The
Medium Is the Massage that "we are
enveloped by sound" (111), he could not
even begin to understand what an understatement
that comment would be 39 years later.
What does it mean for a visual culture
to become so heavily impacted by sound?
What is the relationship between sound
and image? What are sounds spatial
and temporal considerations? These are
some of the questions probed at "Tangible
Frequencies," the recent show at Open
Space. An "installation series" held in
conjunction with the conference, "Interactive
Futures: Audio Visions," and the Victoria
Independent Film and Video Festival in
Victoria, British Columbia, in January
2006, it was curated by multimedia artists
Steve Gibson, Julie Andreyev, and Randy
Adams. Works by 11 artists were featured
in 10 different works that ranged from
time-based projects to video games.
Open Space  has a long history of showcasing
emergent art forms, beginning with Don
Druicks 1972 "piano and electronic
compositions" ("Archives"). In a panel
given last year at "Interactive Futures,"
Todd Davis, Douglas Jarvis, and Jeremy
Turner detailed the gallerys work
with the project Sat-Tel-Comp,
described as "one of the first telematic
video transmissions utilizing satellite
technology."  In 1983 the gallery featured
Diana Burgoynes Digital Body,
seen today as "one of the earliest experiments
with electronic sound as part of an interactive
performance" . So, it seems appropriate
that a show experimenting with the way
"site, space, vision, volume and perception
and . . . physical location 'matters'
to the reception of audio frequencies"
("Tangible Frequencies") would take place
For instance, Leonard Pauls Core
Dumpan irreverant title
for an installation mounted in a bathroom
stall, to be surewas described
as a "[Game Boy Advance] with a flash
ROM running custom-made software which
explores issues of space and privacy on
the small screen." That it played nonstop,
literally "dumping out recombinant and
pseudo-random images and audio samples"
("Tangible Frequencies") while one was
supposed to go about ones business
in the loo could be viewed as a statement,
on the one hand, about the value of the
content found in video games, and on the
other, the nature of the media we engage
in within our most intimate spaces. In
essence, the work suggests that the Game
Boy is youths answer to the newspaper
and raises questions about what happens
to the core of humanity when information
being dump[ed] in it is inane and
Another piece that made good use of the
gallery space was Peter Courtemanches
Spark-Writing, billed as a "generative
audio installation." The title is derived
from an idea by Velimir Khlebnikov, who,
in 1915, envisioned a form of telematic
communications. The piece consisted of
four wooden speakers crafted by hand that
hung from the ceiling in the stairwell
leading to an unused and dark location
on the gallerys lower floor. Described
as "fantastical instrument[s]," like those
envisioned by Douglas Kahn, the speakers
each quietly broadcast a "sound collage"
based on, according to the artist, "four
stories (or four such instruments)The
Factory Floor, Very Low Frequency (magnetic)
Sculpture, Ocean Harp, and Volcano Trumpet"
("Tangible Frequencies"). Each story was
reflected on a scroll mounted on the wall
near its corresponding speaker, thus combining
old technology with new. "Ocean Harp,"
for example, alluded to the 1918 "Open
Letter" written by Vladimir Mayakovsky;
The Factory Floor, the 1908 work by Alexander
Bogdanov, "Red Star: A Utopia." As a whole,
the piece critiques utopian dreams that
accompany the introduction of newand
hollowness of such claims reflected in
the echoes of the space.
Snippets, by Bobbi Kozinuk, was
a "radio soundwalk" that took participants
on a journey around the gallery space.
Sounds, made up of, literally, snippets
of conversations, were transmitted to
particular places in and around the gallery
and picked up by the radio headset worn
by the participant. As she or he moved
around the space, the participant would
hear these sounds, along with those emitted
by the other installations and participants,
and, depending on the route taken, could
experience the work uniquely with each
engagement. Because of the way the audio
samples were mixed by the artist and combined
with the other sounds enveloping the participant,
and the fact that the sounds emitted from
the headsets were of a lower intensity
than the live sounds, the experience purposefully
confused the participant and asked her
or him to think about the way humans try
to make sense of the un-sensible, unravel
truth from lies, and discern the spontaneous
from the contrived.
Another noteworthy piece was Marshall
Jones and Jonathan Zalbens Compound
Pilot, a collaborative work consisting
of seven different net art pieces. While
all successfully explored, either directly
or indirectly, the "correlation between
the sonic and the visual elements" ("Tangible
Frequencies"), "Teardrops 1" and "Teardrops
2" deserve mention for their wit and intellectual
"Teardrops 1" began with a light bronze
background with "circle cutouts," resembling
teardrops, floating upward. Obfuscated
by both the colored background and the
floating teardrops was an image. One could
never quite make out exactly what it looked
like, only that it was there. Ambient
sound "puls[ed]" in the background ("Tangible
Frequencies"). Touching a particular drop
with the cursor caused it to float up,
but since all drops eventually seemed
to move up the screen and disappear, the
touching only singled one out for immediate
release. No matter how long the piece
ran and how many drops the user touched,
the image never emerged from behind the
veil of tears. "Teardrops 2," the
reverse of "Teardrops 1," began with the
scene that lurked behind the first piece.
An animation set to loop, it was a landscape
of trees, mountains, and villages. No
tears appeared in this piece, but it was
not without its own confounding elements.
In this case, small white squares that
also floated upward didnt hide anything
but still got in the way of a clear view
of the changing landscape. Taking the
place of the pensive ambient sounds of
the first piece was a constant buzz that
further obscured access to clarity. Together
"Teardrops 1" and "Teardrops 2" lead us
to think about the frustrating and disjunctive
ways memories come to ushow
they lie beyond our grasp, and how when
they do finally appear, they are never
enough to take away our pain or satisfy
Adding also to the success of the show
were Christopher Moores edgy Love
+ Hate, Life + Death, and Why? Because!
, Jim Andrews beautifully conceptualized
Nio and War Pigs,  Vera
Bighettis compelling Gr@fite,
 Shawn Pinchbecks highly inventive
Sonic Spaces,  and David Tinapple
& Andrew Johnsons haunting When
Pulse Becomes Pitch.  One can only
hope that the show and the conference
continue for a sixth year, for they draw
excellent work to one of the most stunning
locations in North America and take up
such timely topics so cohesively and thoroughly.
 I borrow this term from Christoph
Cox and Daniel Warner, from their book,
Audio Culture, which I reviewed
here previously and also appeared in Leonardo
38, Number 4, August 2005. See: http://mitpress2.mit.edu/e-journals/Leonardo/reviews/oct2004/audio_grigar.html.
 See: http://www.openspace.ca/.
 Davis, T., J. Turner, and D. Jarvis.
"Outerspace: A Network of Accessibility,
SAT-TEL-COMP, 1977 through 1982." Interactive
Futures 2005. Victoria Canada, February
 Marzolf, H. "IF2 2006." Personal email.
February 7, 2006.
 Jim Andrews work can be found
online at http://www.vispo.com. The URL
for Nio is http://vispo.com/nio;
War Pigs, http://vispo.com/vismu/warpigs/warpigs8.htm.
 Vera Bighettis Gr@phite
can be found at http://www.artzero.net/grafite/index.htm.
 A Quicktime movie demonstrating the
piece is available for viewing from http://cfisrv.finearts.uvic.ca/interactivefutures/pinchbeck.html.
 A Quicktime movie demonstrating the
piece is available for viewing from http://cfisrv.finearts.uvic.ca/interactivefutures/tinapple.html.