The art of listening

One-day symposium at Surrey Art Gallery Nov. 20 explores sound.

Spoken dialogue, song, and non-verbal sounds have much to tell us about what it means to be human today.

Voices are increasingly heard in museums and galleries around the world, but not only are these voices speaking about art, they are central elements within the artworks. Surrey Art Gallery’s 2011 Sound Thinking symposium Active Voice: Vocality as Medium, Object and Material explores this subject.

The symposium brings together an eclectic group of sound artists, visual artists, performers, and writers who work across a range of methods and a number of practices devoted to the exploration of sound and the visual arts. Sound Thinking is part of the Gallery’s Open Sound program, and takes place at the Surrey Art Gallery on Nov. 20, 12-5 p.m. Admission is free but donations are gratefully received.

Among the presentations will be a radio play with talking, insomniac plants by critically acclaimed London-UK-based artist Janice Kerbel; Ottawa-based artist Dipna Horra will discuss transmigration and vocal art; and Judy Radul will talk on art, voice and the courtroom in addition to her work with voice more broadly.

Prolific London, UK-based scholar Steven Connor will give the keynote Broken Voices, which addresses noises in the voice – such as whispers, slurps, pops, wheezes – that tend to be overlooked in accounts of the voice as meaning or expression. Experimental vocal performances will be premiered by Lief Hall and Karilynn Ming Ho.

Sound Thinking 2011 is presented in conjunction with Open Sound 2011: Nests Built by Birds, a series of sound art installations situated in the Surrey Art Centre’s public spaces. The artists in this year’s Open Sound exhibition are Andrea Young and André Cormier, Ellen Moffat, and Dipna Horra.

Founded in 2008, the Surrey Art Gallery’s Sound Thinking symposium is an annual one day event which brings together practitioners and professionals in the field of sound art.

The Surrey Art Gallery is located at 13750 88 Ave. Phone 604-501-5566 or check www.surrey.ca/arts for further information.