OtterWoman Breathing 2009
Producer, director, co-writer: Cherie Moses
Collaborator, co-writer, researcher: Brenda Jones
Media: a DVD programmed for surround sound (can also be played as a CD)
Voice#1: Brenda Jones
Voice #2 + writer: Geeseesoukqua (Vera Martin, elder)
Voice #3: Darlene Auger
Audio engineers: Wes Caswell, Randor Lin
Production location: Edmonton, Alberta
Visual installation: Cherie Moses
Letter design and fabrication: Technical Cutting Solutions, Edmonton, AB
This work was supported by numerous research grants from Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton.
This audio environment is based on the dialogues of Brenda Jones. The scripting (Voice #1) is spontaneous and follows a set of points/questions we mutually agreed upon.
Brenda’s discusses her illness, her desire to communicate some wisdom for future generations, her mixed heritage and how that plays into her thinking. Interwoven with Brenda’s words is the story of her Ojibway name: OtterWoman. Geeseesoukqua and Brenda have written this for the production. Geeseesoukqua is Voice #2 and she is the elder who gave Brenda her name.
Voice #3 was needed to create the architecture of surround sound in an effective manner. Together, Brenda and I wrote prose poetry and had that translated into Ojibway. This text is a fragmented commentary on notions of a story and memory.
Embedded in this piece is a personal history of Brenda’s psychological adaptation to the duality of two cultures, to chronic illness and to her life. The title of this work reflects both Brenda’s First Nations’ name as well as the illness that has taken away some of her breathing capacity. Her voice reflects this pulmonary condition. As she continues to breathe, she is able to contribute meaningfully to the world with her wisdom and spirit.
My audio works are a form of archiving oral histories and wisdom from those around me. I see the oral tradition complemented and maximized by the interface of sound technology. The idea of the private becoming public is essential to this work.
Visual installation 2011
I had fabricated individual letters that are water jet laser cut to make the phrase Breathing in Prayers. This is the last writing Brenda did for the piece. The text will be at an angle on the floor reflecting the overhead spotlights on its shiny surface. The layout is approximately 18 feet in diameter forming a half-circle. As Brenda had been a sculptor, I wanted her words to approach the three dimensional.
It is my hope that as the viewer is drawn into the gallery space by the large and shiny text, he/she will be in the right spot to hear the surround audio mix. This is referred to as the “sweet spot”.
January 22, 2011