Design at Riverside
7 Melville Street S, Cambridge, ON
Laura Kavanaugh and Ian Birse (aka Instant Places)
...for the colours diametrically opposed to each other...are those that reciprocally evoke other in the eye
- Goethe, Theory of Colours
Laura and Ian work in the Mary Misner Print Studio for 10 days, creating a series of 60 monoprints in which they juxtapose area of colour to create harmonies of difference, as overlaid colours hover around the diametric oppositions of the colour wheel. They open their working processes to the public by displaying the work in progress as a flow installation, mounting an evolving record of the print process on the windows for viewing by passers-by on Melville Street.
Laura and Ian also photograph the stages of work, and use these images as source material for a generative visual machine they program in the software environment Max/MSP/Jitter. They complete the project with an audiovisual performance in which they use modular synthesis and prepared guitar to spontaneously compose an audio field that evolves in parallel with a visual world being generated in real time, as images from the monoprint process permute and morph in infinitely-varying transformations.
The project stems from an event Laura and Ian encountered by chance during their introductory visit to Cambridge in late May 2019. As they explored the river paths along the Grand River they happened on a sale of art supplies that had been acquired and used over many years by Cambridge artist Barb Augustine. She was a talented watercolour artist who chose to present only one exhibition of her work, in which all 60 of the pieces in the show were sold.
The art supply sale was a cornucopia of drawing and painting tools and paper that took place in the Galt Collective space on George Street North. Laura and Ian purchased a range of materials, some new, some lovingly-used and bearing the traces of a life lived in art. As Laura later subdivided large sheets of watercolour paper for easier transport back to their studio in Hull, she was left with 60 sheets of medium size, and began to ponder associations with the number 60 and possible meanings of its synchronistic doubling.
As Laura and Ian develop and Instant Places Project, chance connections form fresh channels of information that they allow to shape the direction of their work. They decided not to take the sale materials back to Hull, but to leave the paints, mediums, brushes, and paper in Cambridge as the basis for this project. In WATERMARK they honour tributaries that flow across the terrain of art, from physical to virtual representations, from the direct touch of traditional art forms to the ephemeral visual worlds imagined through generative electronics.
Instant Places (Laura Kavanaugh and Ian Birse)
Laura Kavanaugh and Ian Birse create interactive audiovisual performances and generative installation works for galleries and online platforms, using constantly-evolving hardware/software systems that integrate physical and virtual image and sound sources, touch-sensitive interfaces, and algorithmic responses from handmade software instruments. Their Instant Places collaboration has been a central focus for over 20 years: since 1997 they have realized performances, installations, and telematic works on location across the Americas, Europe, Japan, and Australia.
In spring 2019 they presented Breathing Room at the Thames Gallery, Chatham, an immersive audio visual space that was generated in real time for the main gallery March - May 2019, with an online iteration that generates audiovisual compositions in perpetuity at instantplaces.ca/Breathing-Room/, and POD DREAMERS RADIO HOME, an online generative work that included live exchanges and performances for the Art's Birthday international telematics celebration in January 2019. In late 2018 they conducted residency work in Ireland and Scotland that they completed with audiovisual performances in Birmingham and Glasgow.
Over 2016/2017 they premiered three new generative works inspired by the forms and processes of lichen symbiosis: RhizoGeographicum (Gallery Stratford), XANTHORIA ELEGANS (Art-Image, Gatineau), and CARBON SUGAR AIR, an online generative system that improvises and streams three-minute sound sculptures in real time. From September through December 2016, Kavanaugh and Birse realized self-directed residencies throughout the United Kingdom; highlights were performances in Liverpool with the Liverpool Improvisation Collective, an audio performance at SonADA Festival (Aberdeen), and the premiere of a new work for generative visuals and realtime composition in Glasgow at GIOFest 2016.
In 2014-2015 they presented installation/performance iterations of their generative/interactive work SLEEPER at New Music Kingston, the M:ST Festival Calgary, FIMAV Victoriaville, and the Museum of Vancouver during the 2015 ISEA colloquium.
From 2010 - 2013 they installed immersive generative audiovisual spaces for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Peterborough Art Gallery, Interaccess (Toronto), the JNAGG (Sarnia), and NAISA/NXNE Toronto, and presented mobile artlab/broadcasting projects at Sound Symposium (St. John's), and Truck Gallery (Calgary). During 2003 - 2010 they realized location artworks from coast-to-coast in Canada, and across Australia (2004), Japan (2008), the United States (2008/2009), and South America (2009); from 1997 to 2002 they created artworks on location throughout Canada and, in Europe, for the Kassel Documentary Film Festival, BACKUP festival (Weimar), LEM Festival (Barcelona), and the Audio Art Festival (Krakow).