held on for dear life – Cindy Baker (with Scott Smallwood)

held on for dear life – Cindy Baker (with Scott Smallwood)

“I dreamed that Jamie and Andrew and Liv and Skylar and I were in Vegas touring the amusement park rides in each of the hotels. We got separated at the giant inflatable rubber duckie river ride, and the duckie I got was far too small so I basically just wrapped my arms around it and held on for dear life.  Jamie got a giant sofa duckie and I tried to catch up with her to get on her duck, but the current was too fast.”

Dreams are notorious for being extremely fleeting. Through journaling them, I’ve discovered that if I don’t look back at them for years, revisiting them creates an affective experience. At first, the feeling is of unfamiliarity, a disbelief that the words I am reading are my own, that quickly gives way to an intense remembering of the dream so strong it feels like a memory or lived experience. Because of this, dreams are the perfect vehicle to investigate memory and trauma.

I’m fascinated by the ability of our brains to block traumatic events from conscious memory, but inability to prevent those events from making their mark in ways that impact us into adulthood. I often wonder how much of this blocked childhood trauma had a role in the formation of my personality, or my disabilities.

I think about the dream as not only a metaphor for memory, but a manifestation of trauma and experience’s concrete effects on our memories, our experience of the world, and our embodiment. This body of work is a way to re-experience forgotten memories; if imagined. Through this project, I am attempting to set in motion a process by which I can trigger the emergence of real memories, long-buried by past trauma.

In the collaborative audio work with Scott Smallwood, a multichannel sound system is used to spread an array of babbling voices around the space, enveloping the listener in an ever-changing panoply of sound. Custom computer code generates streams of voiced dreams, adding and removing voices in layered algorithms that change throughout the day, sometimes utilizing only one voice actor, other times mixing in several or all of them together. The audio is generative and therefore is never the same experience twice.

Cindy Baker is a contemporary artist based in Western Canada whose work engages with queer, gender, race, disability, fat, and art discourses. Committed to ethical community engagement and critical social enquiry, Baker’s research-based practice draws upon 30 years working in the communities of which she is part.  Helping found important community and advocacy organizations over the course of her career, including the Saskatoon Diversity Network and the Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Coalition of Canada, notable awards include Toronto International Body Image Film & Arts Festival’s Body Confidence Canada Award, and Toronto’s South Asian Visual Arts Collective’s Collaborator of the Year Award.

Scott Smallwood is a sound artist, composer, and performer who creates works inspired by discovered textures and forms, through a practice of listening, field recording, and improvisation. In addition to composing works for ensembles and electronics, he designs experimental instruments and software, as well as sound installations and audio games, often for site-specific scenarios. Much of his recent work is often concerned with the soundscapes of climate change, and the dichotomy between ecstatic and luxuriating states of noise and the precious commodity of natural acoustical environments and quiet spaces. He performs as one-half of the laptop/electronic duo Evidence (with Stephan Moore) and teaches as a professor of composition at the University of Alberta, where he also serves as the director of the Sound Studies Institute.

Date:June 15th, 2024  -  August 24th, 2024

Location:Casa - Main Gallery

Add to Calendar

The cover of the Spring/Summer 2024 Casa Program Guide with a marigold cover and paper flower collage.

Casa Program Guide

The Casa Program Guide is produced three times a year; Winter, Spring/Summer and Fall. Inside the guide find listings for the upcoming class and workshop schedule, upcoming exhibitions at The Gallery, information about artists in residence and seasonal events in the building. Program guides are free. Pick-up guides at Casa or at facilities throughout the city.