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Sound Art on the Rise in Sackville, N. B.

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Issue: 5 Section: Arts Geography: Atlantic New Brunswick, Sackville Topics: sound art

August 8, 2003

Sound Art on the Rise in Sackville, N. B.

by Janna Graham

Canadian radio is like loveless sex. It's predictable, unimaginative and over in five minutes. With the exception of campus and community stations, we don't expect Canadian contemporary radio to broadcast sound art. It just doesn't fit into the rigidly formatted program schedule of the CBC, and it certainly isn't safe enough for commercial radio.

photo by Janna Graham
Yet, Canada has a rich tradition of innovative sound and radio artists. Because sound art is often an isolated affair lacking the same training opportunities the visual art world affords, the Canadian Society for Independent Radio Production has brought together emerging and established sound artists since 1999, dubbing this expanding community of audio artists "Full Moon". The gathering takes the form of a week long camp in which 20 participants take technical and creative workshops, go on sound-walks at local sonically significant sites, and work on their independent sound pieces. Established artists facilitate the camp and are on hand to mentor younger artists. The camp is sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts.

This marks the first year the project will take place in an Atlantic Canadian sound-scape. CHMA Radio, a small community-based/campus radio station at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, is hosting the camp from August 17 to 23, and will broadcast performances from the camp throughout the week. Radio-maker Chris Brooks of St. JohnOs, Newfoundland, will be returning for a second year as Full Moon artist-in-residence, and audio-installation and performance artist Rita McKeough of Halifax, N. S., will be a second artist-in-residence. Past artists-in-residence have included Hildgaard Westerkamp, Michael Waterman, Andra McCartney and Darren Copeland.

Imagine turning on the radio to hear the sound a box of crickets makes when thrown from a rowboat, or the scratchiness in a music teacher's throat after she's belted out a raucous version of "What A Wonderful World". What makes sound art so compelling is that it forces us to abandon the known.

For information on participating in Full Moon 2004 (spaces are full for this year), visit the web site www.radiosite.ca/fullmoon

Janna Graham is currently station manager at CHMA. She will be leaving the position in the fall to devote time to her own artistic projects.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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