Reverie

Jean Routhier is a sound-based artist residing in Vancouver. He has been producing electroacoustic works since the 1990′s. Whether for concert, gallery, web or in collaboration, he refers to his works as a form of contemporary urban folklore.

As part of the Reverie project, Jean Routhier will work with sounds gathered from the University of British Columbia experimental farm and its discarded agricultural research equipment as well as archival recordings from riots that have taken place in British Coumbia.

“The UBC farm represents a fragile environment, almost an oddity in our urban landscape. I hope to find inspiration by engaging with this unique, peaceful environment. I want to pair these recordings with the sounds from crowds rioting, as an extreme reaction to the urban environment, and a counter-balance to what I expect to find at the UBC farm site. My activities will include sound walks and hand-drawn memory maps of Vancouver neighbourhoods.” —Jean Routhier

Reverie: Noise City, ”My approach consists in gathering field recordings that are later mined for evocative moments. The excerpts are edited into works that are charged with the varying internal dynamics of juxtaposed segments, either of similar nature or of great contrast.

I considered what the idea of the city evoked for me and searched for some “aural specificity” that I associate with it. I found myself investigating the sound making of activities somewhat at opposite end of the spectrum. Listening to the city’s (sound) composition, made up of the complex musicality offered to/ by its citizen, curious to what was on offering as inspiration for the Reverie: Noise City project.

Well, from this cluster of life often ripe with (mostly subdued) conflicts between its inhabitants, I started to think about what I wasn’t hearing. Beyond the lull of the city’s wash of sounds, I wondered about the dynamics and the spikes one can hear. Horns, alarms and sirens come to mind, but they are not really from the city’s tissue. I focused instead on the sounds from the citizens when they are not drowned by the city’s predictable sonic blanket. What sounds come from a city taken over by its citizen? An upsurge of activity… A disruption of the city. Well this kind of thinking led me to search for archival recording from of riots. Unpredictable and out of (the city’s) control, I hear it as an extreme reaction from the citizens. A rebellion with no revolution in site, a passionate moment to take over what might feel lost… Definitively worth mining for evocative moments!

Simultaneously as I grew curious about sounds from riots, I became aware of an experimental farm located in Vancouver, property of the University of British Columbia. A visit, and subsequent recording sessions, made at the farm presented a counterpart to the riot sounds. Reverie, the city as an ecosystem, with its dense/ intense zones and its tranquil area. But though the location offered soundscapes similar to that of the countryside, it was the farm’s installations that attracted me. In an abandoned trailer, obsolete equipment, just waiting for me to auscultate, offered sharp sounds, with an enclosed acoustic quality, and that appeal to me because it would provide contrasting material to work with.

As the project got under way, I was also inspired by Elizabeth Fisher’s lush graphic works, used as doorways to access the activities on the Reverie website. The body reference – the skeleton from a human torso – made me reconsider my initial external perspective to incorporate ideas pertaining to the internal and the intimate. In that regard I plan some series of home-bound actions.”

- Jean Routhier, November 2004

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