Knot Project Space Podcast

in Space Grey | Emilio Portal and Manuel Piña-Baldoquìn

October 20, 2021 Digital Arts Resource Centre Season 1 Episode 1
Knot Project Space Podcast
in Space Grey | Emilio Portal and Manuel Piña-Baldoquìn
Show Notes Transcript

In this very first episode of Knot Project Space’s new podcast series, in Space Grey curator Anyse Ducharme talks with Emilio Portal about Gatineau Owl Event and with Manuel Piña-Baldoquìn about Naufragios (the sound of no shore).

in Space Grey is a durational mostly a-synchronous online exhibition meditating on themes of connection, environmental extraction and accelerated capitalism. Presenting works by Ashley Bowa & Lesley Marshall, WhiteFeather Hunter, Maize Longboat, Tina Pearson, Manuel Piña-Baldoquín, Emilio Portal and Tosca Teran.

Join us every week this fall to interact with works in audio, video, performance, video games. Subscribe to Knot Project Space’s in Space Grey podcast series to meet all the artists!

digitalartsresourcecentre.ca/inspacegrey/

Knot Project Space is powered by the Digital Arts Resource Centre.

Produced by Anyse Ducharme with the help of Associate Producer Gary Franks.
Original Music by Adam Saikaley.
Recorded by Anyse Ducharme and Mél Gosselin.
Edited and mixed by Adam Saikaley.

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Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action:
https://ehprnh2mwo3.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf

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Anyse Ducharme:

Welcome to Knot Project Space! Knot Project Space is powered by the Digital Arts Resource Center, located in Ottawa on the unseeded and unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin nation. The space is uniquely configured to present installations, screenings and performances by contemporary artists working within the field of media art.

Ml Gosselin:

The Digital Arts Resource Center's Members Portal is packed with a full audio visual library of online content including workshops, lectures, artist talks, publications, curated artists resources and more! Become a DARC member today and get access immediately. Visit digitalartsresourcecenter.ca to sign up and take your artistic practice to the next level.

Anyse Ducharme:

Hi everyone, and welcome to Knot Project Space's new podcast series. My name is Anyse Ducharme and today I'll be talking with artists Emilio Portal and Manuel Pia-Baldoqun about their work in our online exhibition "in Space Grey". Before we start, I'd like to acknowledge that we're connecting with you today from the unseeded and uncentered territory of the Algonquin nation. We honor the Algonquin people who have occupied this territory since time immemorial, and whose culture has nurtured and continues to nurture this land and its people. We are grateful to be guests on this land, where we have the opportunity to work, live and create. In an effort to make this acknowledgement more active, we ask that you learn about the land that you're joining us from today, and that you read the Truth and Reconciliation commissions 94 calls to action, please follow the link in the episode description. "in Space Grey" is a durational mostly asynchronous online exhibition meditating on themes of connection, environmental extraction, and accelerated capitalism. Emilio Portal is a mixed transdisciplinary, artist maker, designer, musician, producer and sound engineer who was born in New Westminster British Columbia. Emilio holds a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Laurentian University, a Bachelor of Environmental Design Studies in architecture from Dalhousie University, a permaculture design certificate, and natural building passport issued from O.U.R. Eco Village, and a masters of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria. Emilio Portal "Gatineau Owl Event" mediates the process of sound mixing by adding a networked call for collective Sonic connection.

Emilio Portal:

We started with having conversations with Cora, who is the director of Myths & Mirrors, and we're talking about different different kind of events we could do during the pandemic to kind of get more participation going on, you know, and because the community kind of vibe, it was totally kind of disrupted, and there was not much community art going on at all. So we're discussing how can we how can we have some kind of engagement on a maybe local, provincial, maybe national level, that, you know, get people excited about something being created, collect together. And somehow I don't know if it was me, or we started talking about sound. And I started suggesting, well, maybe people could take field recordings of where, where they are, and different sounds that they're listening to, that they hear in their, in their local area. And so we started talking about more more sounds that are from ecology and from nature and things that people, you know, go go to, to get some kind of sanity and relief from, like the the bombardment of every day, and also like, from isolation, during pandemic, during, during all of these orders to stay home and not do anything. And, you know, basically, I think that's taken a huge toll on people and going for walks in the woods, and, you know, sitting by a lake, and that kind of thing has been hugely beneficial for me and my family. And we've kind of wanted to almost share that in this with this project.

Anyse Ducharme:

the project started with a call for field recordings.

Emilio Portal:

We even got some field recordings from Europe was kind of amazing. So there was over 60 submissions that were submitted an email. There was no there was no kind of jury we just accepted everything. So in the end, I had a huge amount of field recordings to go through. And the first kind of project was to kind of create an ongoing like listening experience as if you were kind of walking through all these different zones, all these different places. So we had field recordings from, like I said, from Europe, and then some from Quebec and Ontario, and even some from BC from all over the place. And what I had to do is create a long kind of soundtrack. But, and, and work with all of these different varying qualities of recordings and different volumes. So there was a lot of a lot of calibration and work to try to get this piece so you could listen to it and not have these hugely jarring ups and downs and levels, you know. So I think that's, that's kind of where it started was with a desire to kind of get people involved in something more communal and more collaborative. So that, you know, we didn't feel so much alone. I think some of these sounds really kind of just like stood out for me, not as being like higher quality or anything like that, but just that they had some kind of deeper effect. And it's more maybe a poetic effect that I can't really describe so much. But the owl's sound was definitely one of those. And so the way that I that I worked, I mean, the way that I mixed these kind of pieces is I look at these field recordings, and I started to like, break them down into very, like small parts and see the potential as for using them as kind of instruments. So it starts to look at all these very, like pinpoint spots in that field recording. And there's like kind of infinite spots like that, you know, points in in that small field recording, which is probably only like 20 seconds long or something like that. And I don't think I use that whole 20 seconds, it's more like looking at the different aspects and different spots that would maybe create something more percussive or more melodic and start to play along and explore those kind of areas of the field recording. So that's kind of the starting point.

Anyse Ducharme:

Emilio mix two albums from over 60 field recording submissions over the course of the collaborative community engaged project "She is Awakening".

Emilio Portal:

First album is, is that long piece, you have the long, almost like a score of sorts, like a long, almost like a sound walk that's composed with all the different field recordings that came from, from everywhere. So that was a real challenge in mixing the levels so that every single field recording was more or less within the sound, same kind of loudness range. So you didn't have like these huge jumps. And then I made a few compositions. In the method that I was kind of describing of exploring specific kind of field recordings. So the album's was one of them, then there was another one with I believe it was a grouse, grouse sound from from Vancouver Island, I think. And that was a very short field recording, like I'm talking 10 seconds or something. Yeah, so the way that you kind of explore the sample, I kind of create multiple different tracks, so I kind of treat the sample as a new instrument. So it could be like, okay, here's my kind of percussive low end. And then here's a more like, kind of snare shaker sound. And then you could build it up that way, and then try to create all these different instrumentations and maybe it's more like a melodic bass sound, and then the higher melodic, more like keys and all these kinds of different ways of approaching and maybe there's like a more ambient background kind of drone sound that could be utilized, you know, and there's so many ways of approaching it. I think the computer is so useful, because it allows you to explore sound in a way that you couldn't do before, you know, like you can go into like a microscopic way with a sound and start to look at the very small like, like it's kind of unrealistic because you're looking at something that's so minuscule and kind of finite and you kind of yeah, it's hard to explain but you getting getting into like a rarefied zone of, of sound, but then that's it has its own signature, and it's totally related to that field recording. So I, that's what's really intriguing to me is not about kind of making it so abstracted that you can't really recognize where it's from, but looking at the kind of signatures of that specific field recording, even if there's all kinds of background noise and stuff like that. There's ways of like, working with those kind of, like, maybe poor quality recordings, and I'm really interested in that, like, interested in the kind of grit of sound, you know, and like, not trying to eliminate that, because I think there's a real kind of beauty of that. The sound is going to carry the signature of however it was recorded. And that's kind of like the source of it, you know. And so all these different devices that people use, they use, like, possibly, like really crappy phones to record these things with, to record, wherever they were. And so there's a lot of sometimes like, background noise, or, you know, it's so yeah, they call that the the noise floor is like impossible to get rid of, because it's so present, because the volume at which the the piece was recorded was like, so low that the noise was coming in there too, or something like that. And you can't really control those, the inputs of like, how you're recording on an iPhone, for example, it's just like, that's what you said, you get you know . And it's got all these built in like apps, and it's got all these built in devices, that'll change the sound as it's coming into your phone as well. It's got like, built in compressors, and all these things, you know, that Apple or whatever company has, has designed for that in order to kind of create an optimal recording with that specific device, you know, but yeah, that I mean, it's so interesting to think about all these different, like technological devices and how we, we capture sound that way. And the history of recording sound is actually not that old. It was like, in the late 1800s, when they were like, recording, I was just reading about this so crazy about these, like old either like wax or the soft, like metal kind of discs that were recording a certain frequency that was vibrating a needle onto the surface of this medium. Like that's how recording was done. And the quality of it is like, I don't want to say it's a poor quality. It's just so different because the medium is completely different, you know? Yeah, it's like whichever medium you're working with this kind of like, that's what you're going to hear. That's what you're going to replicate. And just to think about how sound recording is not that old is fascinating for me, because I think, for that, I mean humanity and its relationship with sound and music and that kind of thing. I think it's probably was, was quite different, you know, and maybe, like dramatically different.

Anyse Ducharme:

Much like how Emilio Portal manipulates small specific samples of media encoded waves, Manuel Pia-Baldoqun, in Naufragios, manipulates a pixel sample of a visual wave, an anonymous body of water forming and folding a seascape. He shifts warps duplicates, and skews these pixels samplings into a story inviting the viewer to consider through multiple orientations the sound of no shore. Born in La Habana, Manuel Pia-Baldoqun is a visual artist and educator who lives and works in Vancouver. His works investigates the relation between technology spirituality and justice.

Manuel Pia-Baldoqun:

The title is called "no fires" in Spanish because there is not an exact translation in it, but for so in some places I have used the title, "the sound of no shore," which is a phrase from a poem by Rumi and I felt it capture that that feeling of yeah, anyway. That was something I found that is one of the things that many things that I felt in this image is that there is sound to that. So I felt like this phrase really somehow brought that to the fore.

Anyse Ducharme:

The processes Manuel has worked with and thought through in his earlier practice led to the creation of "Naufragios".

Manuel Pia-Baldoqun:

So how the work came about that is very interesting. Maybe not by chance, of course, nothing is by chance, but just yesterday I was watching a video of a of an artist. Comic book artist who a - or graphic novel artist - was talking about a drawing and a free flow of... when you go to automatic drawing, which is basically kind of stepping aside and letting the images flow from what are these are the flow right? And I thought so much about for many years about that, how that process could take place in photography which is such a a different process, right? Is that possible or no, but when actually, when I made this, this works, it was, to a large degree, that kind of processing, which I wasn't really, I was trying to somehow made, the image is happening. And it was actually the first time I did that, for whatever reason, and through to a lesser degree really, these are images that came through, in, in a very literal way. I guess,

Anyse Ducharme:

For this particular work, Manuel was interested in his relationship with the ocean.

Manuel Pia-Baldoqun:

I had been working for many years, or I guess, many years ago, at the beginning of my art career, whatever that means. I made a series about the ocean and I was still living in Havana, and the ocean had very important connotations. We're particularly fond of connotations for any Islander, right, and you do now are living in a situation that you will be in that relationship all the time, right in front of the ocean, and, and the horizon, right, because we are. So I had worked on the ocean and the theme of the ocean, but this word, they became my blessing, and somehow my crypsis, I guess. B ecause from then on, no matter what I did, people always went back to that, where I was always showing off my work. And that's what people think of me, right, as a person who read these images, right. So I, I, for many years, I resisted to do any work with about the ocean. But this was a very beautiful way of coming back to it, because I felt like I was coming from a very different place, from a different path from the other side of the ocean, so to speak. But they were all concerns, right? It was, in a ways is is a follow up to, to some of those ideas that I had, exploring the first work, there were about the entrapment, and journeys, dreams of journeys. But here is was kind of many years after, right? I mean, you know, in all kinds of journeys. And I go through many other journeys. And they all seem to come into this now fractures, is wreckages, that is just the beginning of some of our new journey. And that's what what happens in the work. So the image is starting to come and to flow. And they're more I guess, active part of my say, was to, pretty soon I started to wonder, could I could I actually make a film, quote, unquote, or create a narrative using this work or these images? What are they? What were they about? Right? And that's why I made that piece in the format that you're showing them now. Which is sort of a story, as simple as that there is a narrative and a beginning and an end and some special moments in between. So yeah, it's a story. That's what it is. First word, it was about being in an island. And Cuba being in a particular kind of isolation. The photos the first year we're taking, looking into the ocean and the questions for so many humans particularly in the time that I did this work was what is beyond there for me, right. This longing for something that we never knew, but also the possibility of escaping from a situation that had become unbearable. So we had this all these connotations and and of course, he had also a much more personal set of questions behind I felt that most of my people at the time felt very trapped in a situation that we couldn't see a way out of. So the horrizon there was more of a promise. But here they were actually small like a constantly broken promise. So to speak right, where there is always this journey in which we we embark and that's what somehow sort of like a life story you know, we call into the journey and it end ups what it ends up but then something else, hopefully more beautiful begins. So that's the horizon. The horizon is that place where we will never arrive.

Anyse Ducharme:

Thanks to both Emilio and Manuel for joining me to talk about their processes. I'm going to leave you with an excerpt of curatorial writing for "in Space Grey". I have a Space Grey I picked up space grey and I love it Space Grey is absolutely fine with no scratches or anything. I'd definitely opt for the space gray, looks very sharp. You still happy with space grey? That particular tone of anodized aluminum, replicated and sold in multiplicity to no infinity, sits in the pockets of those of us who can afford it. Made available through environmentally extractive and opaque cycles of production, these technological accoutrements are used by us to connect with each other, to fracture our connection to each-other, to ignore our surroundings, to ignore the functionings of the platforms themselves Materials inform. Materials support. Materials are erased in the nature of how we have been conditioned to receive them. Lets consider materials. The works in this exhibition utilize technological materials and processes to create meaning while inviting us to consider our positions in relation.

Ml Gosselin:

Anishnabe Azejicigan is a monthly gathering with indigenous artists, thinkers, storytellers and musicians led by Indigenous Culture and Media Innovations in collaboration with Knot Project Space. Join us every third Tuesday of the month at 7pm, over zoom. For more information about the gatherings visit indigitalcultures.ca.

Anyse Ducharme:

You've been listening to Knot Project Space powered by the Digital Arts Resource Center. This podcast was produced by Anyse Ducharme with the help of associate producer, Gary Franks. Original music by Adam Saikaley. This episode was recorded by Anyse Ducharme and Ml Gosselin, with special guests Manuel Pia-Baldoqun and Emilio Portal. It was edited and mixed by Adam Saikaley and of course they wouldn't have happened without the rest of the team at DARC. Annette Hegel, Jenna Spencer, Koliah Bourne, Tanise Marchesan Cabral, Feza Lugoma, Christopher Payne, and Daniel Kaunisviita. Special thanks to the City of Ottawa, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. Join us once a week this fall on digitalartsresourcecenter.ca/inspacegrey to interact with the works of Ashley Bowa & Lesley Marshall, WhiteFeather Hunter, Maize Longboat, Tina Pearson, Emilio Portal, Manuel Pia-Baldoqun, and Tosca Teran over the course of online exhibition "in Space Grey". Thank you for listening.