Improvised and recorded live at the University of Western Ontario's 'ArtLab Gallery' (The Cube) in May of 2015.
All reverberation is the result of the natural environment and the distortion the result of bad levels.
Fender Telecaster / Voice / Boss RC-20 / Slide / P.A. / H4n Zoom Mic
LIVE FROM THE CUBE : Western's ArtLab Gallery gets played.
Cavernous. This word comes to mind when entering the ArtLab gallery during off-season. Classes now adjourned, the gallery space sits patiently waiting for the next round of students to return to Western University in the fall. Though some shows are still hung in the summer months, it is much less frequent than the school year.
It is May. The Gallery is empty.
Local musician Ian Doig-Phaneuf has decided to use the space to do some instrumental experimentation. He has planned to improvise some songs and do something a bit strange: He intends the record the rooms voice.
Using a guitar, loop pedal, and a PA, Doig-Phaneuf begins to
experiment with the acoustics. Boasting a reverberation time of 4 seconds, the ArtLab Gallery on Western's campus is an exciting space to play with sound. No place for driving drums, the gallery is a hidden paradise for ambient musicians and sound artists. The "cube" also has a high ceiling with exposed pipes and air ducts, all of which become percussive in their own rights as they vibrate and pop in the torrent of sound. Both the loop pedal and the echo work together doubling and tripling passages, layer by layer.
This is when the room becomes an instrument itself. This is when it starts to speak.
As with all art, context is everything. The gallery space and its connotations have been the source of much discussion and investigation in the contemporary art world. What is Duchamp's urinal without the plinth and gallery around it? On a street corner would it command the same contemplation? Would a Klimpt still be a Klimpt if it was on a shelf in a Goodwill? The space in which we experience an art object informs the work's meaning. The language we use to describe changes, and how we process what we are seeing shifts in response to this.
The gallery space is a contextual container of that which we view as art.
The exciting thing about sound work and music is its physical relationship to its space: when the work pushes on the walls of its container, the container pushes back. The gallery space not only helps define a work as "art": it physically shapes its form as well. The ArtLab becomes just as much of an instrument as the Telecaster Doig-Phaneuf uses in his recording session. The effect of experiencing the swelling, multiplying sound live is visceral.
What makes the ArtLab special is not only its acoustic properties, but the forum it provides for sound and music. Within the realm of the university art gallery, work is brought into a whole different kind of consideration. There is the exciting possibility for not only more recordings, but for educational workshops and speaker series to emerge. The Visual Arts department as Western has always had a progressive and exciting attitude towards programming and outreach, so this possibility does not seem too far afield. One can imagine what wonderful and diverse projects could take place here: how many different ways the space could be "played".
The results of the first session in the ArtLab gallery are 6 tracks, all improvised and melodic. Totaling over half an hour, the tracks showcase not only the musician's impressive ability, but the language of the space itself. The work gives the room a voice, just as a bat's echolocation gives form to the cave around it.
Words and photography: Keely McCavitt
released May 21, 2015
Many thanks to Keely McCavitt and Susan Edelstein of the ArtLab Gallery.