lights camera sound actions | time-based contemporary art

Making Lucius’ Garden 1

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Chitty-LuciusGardenFirst of all, thank-you to all you lovely supporters on the Lucius’ Garden fundraising campaign! I so much appreciate your support. We are at 28% of the goal. It’s my first time crowdfunding and it’s a thrill to experience this direct support and encouragement. The tough-minded may not consider encouragement necessary when you’ve been at it for 40 years but I am not among them. Thank-you!

I am never happier than when in production on a work and it feels great to be enjoying opportunity these days. I am on a roll since I got to make Streaming Twelve last year and have Contribute and Confluence coming up in early 2016.

Lucius’ Garden is the fourth in a series of works about water, specifically the North Niagara Watershed. In this one, I am looking at water infrastructure, and the site of the performance is a public garden beside the Lucius Oille fountain at the corner of King and James Streets, which the second Mayor of St. Catharines donated to the people of the city upon completion of the first waterworks. The work is for the In the Soil Arts Festival and will be performed four times over the nights of April 24 and 25. I am very excited that later this week I am videotaping inside the descendant of that first waterworks plant, at the Region of Niagara DeCew Water Treatment Plant. (Thanks to Region culture staff for helping make that happen.)

Production is well underway. Last week I enjoyed the assistance of The St. Catharines Museum. I had already visited their collectionMuseum box in January when I purchased the licence for the 1938 photograph of Lucius Oille’s fountain which is the source of the Lucius’ Garden image (above – and thank-you to my daughter Nell Chitty for acting again as my Photoshop assistant). At that time, I hit the jackpot of seeing this box of goodies – original copies of the earliest reports of the St. Catharines Waterworks. Museum staff kindly allowed me to come to the Museum with my trusty Zoom H2N audio recorder where I read aloud from the first Annual Report for over an hour and a half.

Lucius’ Garden includes a soundscape of a number of “threads” which will be woven into four sound sources to be placed within the garden at the corner of King and James Streets. Two aspects of the audio follow from Streaming Twelve; I am again using the Mohawk translation of the Nanfan Treaty and again reading from an Annual Report of a government entity responsible for infrastructure concerning water. (For Streaming Twelve it was excerpts from the annual reports of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario for 1942-44.)

Although I have not found myself interested in engineering previously, I find these historical documents to be fascinating in their detailing of the materials and mechanics of building the infrastructure that is so much a part of our cultural geography and built heritage. The 1879 Waterworks Report has the added pleasure of appealing to my sense of humour because of the language use, as well as the detailing of human error, naming names, that today would be no doubt litigious. The outlining of the public consultation process is also pretty funny in a nothing-changes sort of way. I find it curiously interesting prose and with luck you will too (and hopefully I did not go over the top with Victorian inflection in my voice!). Below is a short Soundcloud link to me reading Table A which lists where the original cast iron mains pipes were laid.

ElainaWith the assistance of Marie Bowering, Youth Coordinator of Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, we identified a singer for a water song, who in fact turned out to be Elaina Jones, who I first met when she was a small child. I am familiar with an Anishnabwe Water Song which we used to sing about 15 years ago in the Winds of Change drum circle and which I have encountered many times since, such as at the local Sisters in Spirit Vigils. Yesterday, Elaina met me at Joe Lapinski’s home recording studio and recorded a Mohawk Water Song which she learned as a teenager at Akwesasne. She sang with a clear, strong voice accompanied by her rattle and I’ll post that too on Soundcloud when available.

I am happy to be working again with Joe Lapinski, who is such an accomplished and sympathetic audio engineer. Joe helped me out with the sound for Streaming Twelve and back in 2004 performed live video mixing (using that nasty Jitter software) for Song For A Blue Moon when we performed at Tangente Danse Actuelle in Montreal. (Coincidentally, Song was the first time I used a Treaty in a work, which was the Treaty of 1752 – The Treaty of Peace and Friendship Renewed, used in Part 3: Eskenoopetitj.)

Most of the performers have been lined up and I am working on sourcing the submersible lights. Oddly enough, the most difficult thing is finding the right watering cans! Who knew that it would be so hard to find white or cream plastic garden watering cans without embossed roosters!


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