On August 24, as a conclusion to their residency at The Bentway, Mitchell Akiyama and Brady Peters led a sound walk of the site.
Drawing on their experiences with the site gleaned over the course of four months of research and creation, they guided participants on a tour of the space, explored their sculptural interventions, which were produced over the course of their residency, and introduced ideas and techniques that encourage sensitive listening and active participation in Toronto’s urban soundscape.
The installations will be onsite until the end of September.
The Distribution of Sensation
Sound is both unruly and orderly; it spills and seeps, and it causes adjacent bodies to vibrate in sympathy. Subject to the near-perfect geometry of manufactured forms, sound behaves in unpredictably predictable ways. For instance: the cylindrical pipes that channel clean water into our homes and drain our waste cause sound waves to collect and condense, concentrating air pressure into a constant vibration that appears to our ears as a musical tone. Mimicking the drainage infrastructure of The Bentway (the PVC pipes that carry rainwater down from the Gardiner Expressway) Mitchell Akiyama and Brady Peters have created a series of sonic sculptures that pose as infrastructure, albeit of an unusual sort. Listening in at the openings of the pipes, visitors hear subtle, resonant, pitched drones that are the product of the pipe’s geometry modulated and excited by the soundscape of The Bentway. The Distribution of Sensation offers a confusion as to the purpose and function of infrastructure, prompting the possibility that curious aesthetics experiences are always latent in the built environment.
Check out the installations. Place your ears up to the pipes and hear a really interesting drone-like sound, punctuated by the honks and sirens of the surrounding city.
Come on down and experience the different sounds of The Bentway as filtered through the reverberations of downspout piping.
Covered by the rumbling concrete canopy of the Gardiner Expressway and flanked by the hissing asphalt of Fort York Boulevard, the soundscape of The Bentway is dominated by the din of cars, trucks, and construction. But The Bentway also rings with smaller sounds – chirping birds, playing children, skateboards clacking, water splashing. The urban soundscape is generally structured and controlled though abatement – noise curfews, zoning, etc. But sound is more malleable than we often realize.
The installation, Revealing Reflecting (to be installed later this month), is an experiment in shaping and reorganizing sound. The artists are attempting to develop new ways of intervening in urban spaces, beginning with acoustics instead of treating sound as an inconvenient afterthought. Revealing Reflecting makes use of the reflective properties of the parabolic dish, a curved form that collects sound waves and reflects them towards a single focal point. The walls of the dish mask the noise of the surrounding area. It sits at a slight tilt, aimed at the area above The Bentway’s splash pad. Revealing Reflecting is an exercise in rearranging the urban soundscape and prompts visitors to consider how form and design can transform the built environment into a space of play and surprise.
Pipe Installation in Progess
The pipe installation is in progress. The concrete footings have been poured and metal rods that will hold up the pipes have been installed. Check out some photos below.
Mitchell and Brady are working on two major installations. The first will be a series of sound sculptures made from the same pipe as the downspouts coming from the Gardiner Expressway overpass. The pipes reinforce given frequencies depending on their length, filtering the sounds of the site through a beautifully musical tone.
Mitchell and Brady hope that by using materials that read as useful infrastructure to make artworks, the rest of the site will start to seem more full of possibility and exploration and experience.
The second piece will be a pavilion that uses parabolic forms to focus, capture, and beam sound. This is still in the development phase.
Sound Gathering Workshop
On the afternoon of June 9th, Mitchell Akiyama hosted a workshop at The Bentway on sound, listening, recording, and politics.
Akiyama, who along with Brady Peters, is currently an artist in residence at The Bentway, talked with over 50 participants about the often “overlooked” importance that sound plays in our experiences of place and community. The group then participated in a group recording exercise in which, divided into 30 groups, they fanned out across the site, smart phones in hand, to capture the sounds of The Bentway.
Akiyama then took these recordings, all made at assigned locations, and played them back on a 30-channel sound system installed at Trinity Square Video in the context of his exhibition, Everyonce. Scaling the 600 meters across which participants recorded down to a less than 10 meter footprint in the gallery, Everyonce recreated a sonic slice of time, allowing visitors to listen to the entire site simultaneously.
The Bentway’s 2019 Artist Residency is presented by: