Western Front Exhibitions and Media Arts are pleased to present a new project by Ian Skedd entitled, Sign-Singing, Love Will Tear Us Apart, Joy Division 1979, Deaf Choir 2009. Commissioned by the Western Front, supported by Arts Partners in Creative Development, and produced in part through the Media Arts residency programme, the project takes the form of a large-scale three-channel video installation that explores the translation of the rhythm and emotion of a seminal pop song into sign language, a silent, visual and gestural form of communication.
For this project, Skedd worked with a deaf choir to create a signed interpretation of British post-punk band Joy Division’s 1979 single Love Will Tear Us Apart, matching the cadence of the original song to sign motions that capture its emotional meaning. This song, which became a brooding anthem for the post-punk generation, was written by the band’s vocalist Ian Curtis, and was the band’s first chart hit.
In Skedd’s Sign Singing, sound is expressed through an inaudible form of communication. Visually, the choirs hands, bodies and facial movements become the only readable aspects of the song. In the work, silence—rather than sound—is emphasized, yet when engaged with the motions of the choir, the familiarity of the song takes hold.
Skedd is a Vancovuer-based artist currently residing in London, England. He graduated from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2001 and was recently awarded the Cecil Lewis Sculpture Scholarship to pursue an MA in Fine Arts at Chelsea College of Art and Design (London, UK). His works have concentrated on dialectical relationships between inside and outside and public and private, with a recent focus on the psychological process of decoding information and the trigger that identifies an inextricable relationship between language and thought.
Generous financial support for this project is provided by Arts Partners in Creative Development, the Canada Council for the Arts and the BC Arts Council.