(((send+receive))): 10 Years of Sound

Caelum Vatnsdal’s (((send+receive))): 10 Years of Sound (introduced By crys cole)
Saturday, May 29 at 9:00 PM
Winnipeg Cinematheque

For 12 years, Winnipeg has hosted (((send+receive))), an internationally acclaimed festival of sound art. Artists and audiences alike have come to Winnipeg and performed, participated and listened. At the same time, there is still a degree of mystery within the community about just what exactly (((send+receive))) is all about. To commemorate the history of this important Canadian festival, Winnipeg filmmaker Caelum Vatnsdal has created a feature length documentary tracing its history through with footage of past festival events alongside interviews with past and present Artistic Directors Steve Bates and crys cole. Performance excerpts featured include local and international artists Lee Ranaldo, Ken Gregory, Peter Brotzmann, Tim Hecker, Oval, Blunderspublik, Michael Dumontier, Oren Ambarchi, Kaffe Matthews, Otomo Yoshihide and many more.

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From Uptown Magazine May 27, 2010

Now hear this
New doc chronicles the history and sound of local avant-garde festival

Robert Fulford probably had it right.

The venerable arts columnist for the National Post wrote that one attends avant-garde happenings, essentially, for the hell of it. You go and see whatever cockamamie thing the artist(s) dreamed up, you say you were there, and you have fun trying to describe it to others.

That’s not to say there’s never any merit to the art, of course – although some people drive themselves mad trying to divine meaning that may not have been intended. Sometimes even the artist is just trying to have a mischievous good time, at least before he’s trying to say something serious.

All this feels conveyed in Caelum Vatnsdal’s new doc Send + Receive: Ten Years of Sound, which provides a loose historical overview of Winnipeg’s festival of audio art. More valuably, it allows us to experience much of the featured work for ourselves, and decide what we think about it.

According to festival director Crys Cole, it was at Video Pool, Winnipeg’s media arts centre, that the festival originated. What’s even more noteworthy, however, is how organizers managed to nab leading international artists right from the start.

The festival has garnered an international reputation, says festival board chair Tom Kohut. This reflects the local arts community’s innovative and even enterprising nature; as Cole says, it demonstrates how receptive Winnipeg audiences are to the “out-of-the-ordinary.”

You may be wondering: what is sound art, exactly? The doc presents it as a blanket term, incorporating both abstract sound art and experimental music; the label can be either very broad or very narrow, Kohut says. Cole declares herself a champion of “pure abstraction,” fighting against too much inclusion of the “too musical.”

For the majority of the doc’s running time, we see both, although mostly projects creating all manner of bizarre audio effects and soundscapes. Some of these pair distorted sound with bizarre imagery; another installation involves a room full of lit candles. The featured footage aptly conveys the moodiness of the experiences.

Indeed, most of the art featured seems to aim to evoking feeling: the kind of sounds produced are alternately surreal, ethereal, eerie, and downright irritating.

As Cole says, the work challenges what people think is worth listening to.

It also inspires the question of whether such work sometimes seems odd, simply because audio art is still so new. After all, there are still a lot of people out there who don’t get Jackson Pollock; when there’s still that much ambivalence in a more long-established medium, no wonder sound art finds itself relegated to the fringe.

It’s fair to ask: does it work? Sound art, that is. Maybe more to the point, is it any good?

If you’re willing to set aside preconceptions and surrender to a more purely sensory experience, then yes, sometimes. Especially if you’re prepared to embrace the unexpected purely for its own sake.

– Kenton Smith

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~ by cineflyer on May 24, 2010.

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