In the summer of 2015, I spent three and a half months on an artist residency with Western Arctic Moving Pictures. Much of this residency revolved themes of presence and absence in the North, as well as the EM spectrum and the material sonic nature of radiowaves, hauntings, etc.
While working in Yellowknife, I met several young artists who were also interested in experimenting with a variety of modes within music and sound art practices. Given my experience planning events and curating exhibitions, performance programs, etc, I felt that it would be prudent to plan a unique event, something between my art/ curatorial practices, that gave these artists an opportunity to perform, experiment and collaborate. It was also intended to provide me with an opportunity to spend some time discussing sound art, experimental music with these artists and nuturing collaborations with them as well.
The result was Drone Island.
Located in Yellowknife bay, Hideaway Island is a small, uninhabited rocky mass that was once used for a variety of events. The wooden geodesic dome had been long abandoned and was suffering from rot and decay. As a way to reclaim the space as a place for public performances, myself and staff at WAMP repaired an old float dock that would allow anyone wishing to come to the event a place to dock their boats. We also also offered shuttle service for anyone with the means to travel from the city to the island.
The artists who participated in the event produced work from improvisational jazz (saxophone and vocals), drone, ambient, and electroacoustic. Due to the rotted out dome / stage, we set up on the top of a series of rocky outcroppings, which dropped down to the water. The event saw attendees sitting and reading, dancing, sunning themselves, and even travelling down to the water to go for a swim.
For me the event captured the strange and wonderful incongruous nature of Yellowknife itself. A post-modern, networked city, on the edge of the frontier. It was an odd mix of the technological and the natural. The edge of uninhabited wilderness with clear 4G cellular signal.
The end of the event saw the emergence of smoke from wildfire smoke burning outside of the city, and at sunset, the entire island was bathed in a surreal orange glow, accompanied by slow sonic drones.
Artists Featured at Drone Island:
Temple Volant (Sami Blanco)
MXM6164 (Nick Walker).