by Daniel Emberg
Last fall, a Winnipeg artist named Doreen Girard and a Montreal colleague named Kier-La Janisse got to chatting. They were discussing the work of Daphne Oram, an electronic musician probably best known as a co-founder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Inspired by Oram’s idea of harmonic frequencies as a portal to telepathic communication, Girard and Janisse found their way to Electronic Voice Phenomenon, an obscure paranormal occurrence that seized the imaginations of such luminaries as Edison, Marconi, and Tesla. Girard and Janisse each rounded up five women from their respective cities to create installations exploring EVP, and they call the program Voices From Beyond. It recently debuted at this year’s Film Pop, and will now be presented at various venues around downtown Winnipeg throughout the send + receive festival. Winnipeg is represented by Irene Bindi, Doreen Girard, Andrea Roberts, Leslie Supnet, and Gwen Trutnau. Montreal participants are Elisabeth Belliveau, Kara Blake, Ruby Kato-Attwood, Erin Sexton, and Malene Szlam. Check the send + receive website for details on the wheres and the whens associated with all those whos. Stylus had a great exchange with the aforementioned Girard about the EVP Project, and you get to read it as soon as your eyes get past this part!
Obviously you are drawing some inspiration from Electronic Voice Phenomena. Is there a concise way of summarizing EVP that you think would resonate with people who read Stylus?
Doreen Girard: EVP is the process of using technological apparatuses – recording devices, radio broadcasts, telephones, video static, computers, white noise – to allow for communication with the spirit world.
Stylus: Is there a political or consciousness-oriented reason for choosing to have only women driving the project?
DG: Because the genesis of this project lay in the research conducted by pioneering female electronic musician Daphne Oram, we decided that we wanted to solicit female media artists to participate, specifically those who either believed in the paranormal and the possibility of electronic voice phenomena, or who were at least sympathetic to such beliefs.
Stylus: The festival theme this year is “transcendence” – how do you believe the EVP Project fits with that theme?
DG: Transcendence can be defined as” going beyond ordinary limits,” “outside consciousness,” and “not realizable in human experience,” all of which really seems correspondent to the experience of EVP.
Stylus: This will be the second run for the EVP Project. Have any of the artists made big changes this time around, or is it going to be largely the same as the first run in Montreal?
DG: The show at send+receive is happening just days after wrapping up at Film Pop in Montreal. The pieces will all be equivalent.
Stylus: Further to the last question, how much emphasis is on visual or installation considerations for the project? Have such concerns impacted the selection of EVP venues at send + receive?
DG: The installations have definitely impacted the selection of venues, and I think has even been somewhat of a harrowing experience for [festival director crys cole]! She’s figured out some really ingenious solutions, though, as desperation often leads to.
Stylus: Is your Type|Error performance “technically” part of the EVP presentation? Is it something you have performed in Winnipeg previously, or is it a brand-new work?
DG: I’ve performed this kind of live or expanded cinema before in Winnipeg, and it will be pretty typical of my work. This is a brand new piece though, and I think it’s been at least a year since my last screening in Winnipeg, at WNDX.
Stylus: Speaking as a local artist, how do you feel about the send + receive festival, its importance to the local art community, etc?
DG: The festival really brings performances to Winnipeg that aren’t typical of what you see on the prairies. I think it’s super important in that it broadens the typical Winnipegger’s idea of what music can be. Crys and the program committee have a really keen ear for this stuff, and do a really great job of billing noise makers with some seriously amazing international artists in very intimate settings.
Stylus: Are there any send + receive performances this year that you are particularly excited to see in person?
DG: Last year’s fest was really great, and introduced me to some performers I hadn’t heard before (such as Akio Suzuki, who was breathtaking) so I’m pretty excited to hear it all, but I am looking especially forward to Charlemagne Palestine and a screening of work by the late mystic filmmaker, Jordan Belson.