Experimental Films

As part of the RiverChants project, filmmaker Jeff Bird, who has long-documented the Speed River on film, was asked to create a montage of images based on waterflow as a visual cue for the musical improvisations. Along with the poetic texts read by the poets Madhur Anand and Karen Houle, these provided the backdrop and the inspiration for the sounds generated by the musicians, including the sounds generated by the three new instruments commissioned specifically for the project from Tony Duggan-Smith, Mark Kett, and Nik Harron. 

Artist's Statement

A group of canoeists are about to run the same set of rapids.  Each will follow the same route, but each will follow its own unique path.

In 2019 I was commissioned by the good folks at Silence to create a series of water-based videos for the 2020 Guelph Two Rivers festival. The videos were to be part of a live musical performance with the Silence Collective. The onset of the 2020 pandemic required a radical change of plan. I now had a new job.  I used the videos I had produced and created a graphic score that followed the mood and rhythm of the water images.

Each performer independently recorded a solo performance following the score and the videos.  It was with great glee that I awaited the arrival of each new contribution.  All the performers rose to the challenge and delivered brilliantly.  Intertwined with the music were evocative poems exploring water in its many natural, cultural and political states. 

A trio of experimental musical instruments was also commissioned for the project.  I wove these elements together to create the final sonic tapestry.  Raging rivers, a beak full of water, the Grand River, mist at dawn.

I hope you find these videos as entertaining as was my experience creating them.

Heartfelt thanks to all the beautiful contributors: Madhur Anand; Matt Brubeck; Gary Diggins; Christine Duncan; Daniel Fischlin; Karen Houle; Kathryn Landano; Lewis Melville; Joe Sorbara; Tony Duggan-Smith; Mark Kett; Nik Harron

Jeff Bird (April 2021)







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