Mercer Union: ACTIVATING SOUNDSYSTEM: Mathieu Beauséjour & Thomas Jonnson

22 January 2004

January 22, 7PM [FREE] — Sound and visual performance by Mathieu Beauséjour, Montreal, Canada.

Beauséjour uses the birdcall to explore issues such as heritage and capitalism. Consumer and industrial culture is always careful to align itself with nature – Electronic, birdlike chirps are used to indicate traffic signals to the blind. Most currency contains wildlife imagery as the flipside to its political and monarchic symbols. Beauséjour has devised a program that will translate the serial numbers on Canadian bills into the melodic sounds of the bird represented on the corresponding currency. Manipulating the numerical system used to track government issued bills into a fragmented bird song emphasizes the awkward marriage of commerce and nature. An interactive sound installation, La Symphonie des portefeuilles (The Wallet Symphony), composes a soundscape from the serial numbers of Canadian bank notes. Audience members enter the serial numbers of their bills into a laptop computer, becoming collaborators in the performance. The entered numbers trigger pre-recorded samples from the Canadian National Anthem and bird calls relating to the birds that appear on the various bills. The bird songs evolve into a chant of money, a wallet symphony.

January 23, 7PM [FREE] — Performance by Tomas Jonsson, Calgary, Canada.

Through classified ads, email announcements and dropped cards, Jonsson solicits individuals with a simple text: “Here I am over here see me? Where are you?” to call 416. 536.2955. Recorded on voicemail is a birdcall, which Jonnson has isolated from its environment. Jonsson states, “I’m interested in the disconnect that exists between human language and bird song. I’m unable to recognize anything in the melody, or determine what sort of bird it is. I’ve thought about researching this, and there certainly are a number of books I could consult which offer all sorts of practical and empirical information. It seems that this avenue only maintains a barrier between myself and what I know as the ‘natural’ world. I’m interested in a more personal understanding and experience.” Using Mark Leckey’s Soundsystem, Jonsson will play a collection of the responses. Following Jonnson performance a selection of pre-recorded works by Dave Allen, Louise Lawler and Daniel Olson will be played. Come early to receive a free multiple by Peter Gazendam.

programmed by Dave Dyment.

as part of ACTIVATING SOUNDSYSTEM a schedule of events in conjunction with Mark Leckey’s exhibition Soundsystem.