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An artist’s rendering of the Lingua Aqua art installation. It includes a fountain, transparent engraved panels, video and audio.

Students’ multimedia art destined for Surrey parks

July 24, 2008

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By Terry Lavender

Visitors to Surrey’s Serpentine Greenway and Bear Creek Park will soon be enjoying multimedia art installations including drums, speech, flowing water and video imagery — courtesy of faculty and students from SFU’s school of interactive arts and technology.

Two teams from the school have won commissions from the City of Surrey public arts commission to create installations for the parks. Graduate students Lorna Boschman and Vicki Moulder received a commission for “The Talking Pole” at the Serpentine Greenway, while Michael Filimowicz, Melanie Cassidy, Philippe Pasquier and Brady Marks will create Lingua Aqua at Bear Creek Park.

Boschman and her colleagues will set up six solar-powered poles along the Serpentine Greenway and will use words, rhythms and light to synchronize with the walking pace of people strolling by.

Walkers will be able to activate the sound of a drum, beating in tandem with the spoken words of community members, by pressing a button on the pole.

Audio recordings of local residents talking about walking will be pre-mixed with community-selected drumbeats, played in 30-second segments by an MP3 player inside the pole. At night, park visitors will also see rings of light moving inside the tube.

“As well as providing daily exercise, the Greenway will now contain reflections by local residents on walking,” Boschman says. “By combining a legacy of audio training for area residents, historically significant audio recordings and a playful transformation of electromagnetic energy, the Talking Poles represent a form of art that captures the engagement of local community members.

Filimowicz is a well-known experimental composer, photographer, videographer and electro-acoustic music researcher. Pasquier also teaches at SFU Surrey, while Marks is a recent SIAT graduate and Cassidy is a practising artist and art director.

Filimowicz says Lingua Aqua will be a self-enclosed fountain with flowing water, single-channel video, four-channel audio and engraved transparent panels to create a space for contemplating the variety and importance of the world’s languages.

“The title of the work is a pun on the idea of a ‘lingua franca’ or common language, and is intended to provoke thoughts on the diversity and commonalities of language across cultures,” he says.

“Spoken language is back-grounded by the sound of flowing water, and the video imagery of native speakers is modulated by the subtle optics of a rippling reflective pool and rain curtains.”

Visitors to Lingua Aqua will be able to make their own disturbances in the reflective pool to alter the imagery, Filimowicz says.
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