Import / Export

  • Exhibit: 4 - 31 October 2012
  • Vernissage: 4 October 2012, 18:00
  • Artist Talk: 21 October 2012, 13:00
  • Workshop: 21 October 2012, 14:00
  • CRAIG FAHNER

Import / Export is Craig Fahner's first major solo exhibit. The works included in this exhibit speak to the artist’s desire to quantify and qualify an emotional exchange. At the root, this is an exchange of energy, and Fahner’s interpretation of this objectified interaction is translated into a re-imagining of the way that technology is experienced. Specifically, the work is an exploration into the way the spectator’s sensory aural perception is influenced vis-à-vis a reinterpretation of the musical instrument.


The words ‘import’ and ‘export’ evoke the notion of trade, of commerce, and of goods crossing borders. However, beyond the mere exchange of commercial goods, ‘import’ and ‘export’ evoke a sense of movement, of information being exchanged, of the immaterial flow of data. Fahner’s work succeeds in connecting the immaterial nature of an emotional exchange to the material nature of a visceral experience. Together, the four works presented in Import / Export reveal the quantifiable aspects embedded in an exchange – emotional or visceral – as well as the commodification of the human-machine interaction. Alternator is a performative distillation of energy. Making use of homemade devices that convert vibration into electrical current, Fahner stores the emotional output of various durational performative gestures into batteries. Each battery contains a different visceral procedure – beating a drum, riding a bicycle over potholes, throwing his body into a wall – as indicated by the labels on the batteries themselves. The amount of electricity that these gestures create is relatively small, yet their emotional significance is large. It is Fahner's hope that these objects will in some way contain the spirit of the actions that produced them, and that the use of this energy will facilitate some transference of that spirit.


Whorl, created in collaboration with Neal Moignard, is a sculptural instrument that sings in sine waves and adapts the touch of a hand in order to alter itself. Whorl describes the figuration of a fingerprint, a wheel, or a moving spindle over a vibrating metallic plate. The sounds it generates strike the resonant frequencies of its material, in this case salt spilled over the top of the metallic surface, creating nodes of activity on the plate that move particles into passive areas, throwing them from the center into vibrating outward circles. Sound reveals itself as a creative force, as does the participant, who leaves their imprint on the piece itself.


Fusillade is a work that makes use of an array of highly directional ultrasonic speakers arranged in an invisible matrix of intersections to create a sonic experience unique to each spectator. Inspired by Lucille Ball, who once reported a peculiar turn of events related to a set of dental fillings she had received, Fusillade calls into question the objectivity of perception. "One night," told Ball, "I came into the Valley over Coldwater Canyon, and I heard music. I reached down to turn the radio off, and it wasn't on. The music kept on getting louder and louder, and then I realized it was coming from my mouth. I even recognized the tune. My mouth was humming and thumping with the drumbeat, and I thought I was losing my mind." Ball claimed this phenomenon was the result of the fillings acting as a radio receiver, resonating radio frequencies into her jaw. In one way Fusillade recalls the personal, almost metaphysical experience of a person being able to channel music; in another way, it negates this subjectivity by reducing the musical experience to the simple sound frequencies that compose it.


Finally, Organ is a set of two instruments played through the use of sensors that detect physiological rhythms and signals. The first, an organ, uses EEG technology (or electroencephalography) to facilitate a direct relationship between the mind and the instrument. Notes on an electric organ are activated as the EEG monitors the participant's level of cognitive awareness. The generated tones increase in complexity as the participant's level of awareness drops. The second, a drum kit, correlates the heartbeats of two participants into musical rhythms. A heart rate monitor amplifies the users’ heartbeats onto a set of bass drums. The participants can hear the syncopation of their hearts by experiencing the piece simultaneously. While the former instrument reacts to an increase in calmness on the audience’s behalf, the latter responds to the opposite – an increase in energetic activity within the spectator.


Rather than enable a hyper-awareness of the object – as often technological interfaces do – the four works exhibited allow an interaction with technology that encourages a transcendence of awareness to engage in a creative act. Ultimately, the success of Fahner’s work lies in its suggestion of a call and response process, where the spectator is affected – physically and metaphysically – by the inner mechanisms inherent to the works exhibited. The energy intrinsic to one traverses space and time in order to reach out to the other.


ARTIST TALK & WORKSHOP
Biosensing & Music

In 1965, Alvin Lucier first performed "Music For Solo Performer", a piece in which brainwave-detecting sensors were interfaced with musical instruments. Lucier performed this work by entraining his brainwave activity, externalizing the internal frequencies of his brain via sensing technology. Since then, many musicians and artists have used medical devices in performances and interactive art projects. This talk will provide a history of these projects, and will be followed by a workshop that will instruct participants how to construct their own biomonitoring sensors, such as a heart rate sensor.


Craig Fahner is a new media artist originally from Calgary. After joining a band as a theremin player, Fahner became interested in creating interactive artworks using electronic instruments. His experiments with theremins culminated in Open Field, a collaborative artwork that has been exhibited at such venues as the Atomic Testing Museum in Nevada and the Re:Flux festival in Moncton. Other projects, which rethink the ways that technologies and musical instruments are experienced, have been exhibited in various venues across the United States and Canada. Fahner continued working in electronic media at Concordia University in Montreal, where he earned his BFA in 2010. Currently he is working towards his MFA at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Free
  • Exhibit: 4 - 31 October 2012
  • Vernissage: 4 October 2012, 18:00
  • Artist Talk: 21 October 2012, 13:00
  • Workshop: 21 October 2012, 14:00