Each one of us, then, should speak of his roads, his crossroads, his roadside benches; each one of us should make a surveyor's map of his lost fields and meadows. Gaston Bachelard.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Here is a gorgeous video by Juan Alcon Duran and Maggie Schmitt documenting the week Nettle (Jace Clayton, Brent Arnold, and I) spent in Morocco collaborating with Moroccan musician, Hassan Wargui. The song in the video was written together one morning over breakfast.

States of Flux

I had the pleasure of going to the Tate Modern in London last week. The Gerhard Richter retrospective was mind-blowing. What amazed me was how much freedom he gave himself to experiment and go away from forms he'd had previous success with: from painting over newspaper photos to giant grey monoliths, from hyper-realism to abstract gestural forests.

The Taryn Simon exhibit was also wonderful. She spent four years photographing "blood lines" around the world—direct descendants of chosen subjects such as the first woman to hijack a plane, a mother who gave birth to thalidomide babies, a husband with nine wives, a man hired by Saddam Hussein to impersonate his son, Uday. What became most interesting was not who was represented in the images but who was absent and why: kidnapping, refusal to participate, excommunication from the family, death. The holes in the family line as important to the story as the line itself.

I recorded this on the fifth floor in an exhibit called States of Flux.

Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallows Eve

A few years ago, I was a resident in LMCC’s amazing Workspace program. The program gives temporary studio space to artists and writers in unused/abandoned portions of corporate office buildings near Wall Street. The year I participated, the writers were housed on the ninth floor, our studios spread around the periphery of a large territory of stained carpet and dark shadows suggesting former cubicles. The building was never quiet—there was always a faint buzz. Through my studio window I watched the people in the building across the street, ghosts lost in stacks of paper, shapes lit up by flickering TV’s or laptop screens. In this space I often lost track of time, of reality.

During the residency, a fellow artist lent me a book on old slave songs. I found this haunting melody within its pages and, once I learned it, couldn’t stop humming it.

It became a sort of theme song for the space, a rhythm to match the buzzing.

Here is my version of the song:

Happy graveyard walking and moon howling.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thrilling Wonder Stories

Jace Clayton (aka DJ Rupture) and I will be presenting at this year's Thrilling Wonder Stories event. The event looks at the role of architectural space in forming, propelling and affecting narratives of the present as well as the ways in which narratives (fictional, scientific, science-fictive) influence and inspire ideas about and relationships to space and architecture in the future.

We'll be talking about Nettle's new album, El Resplandor: The Shining in Dubai (Sub Rosa), an imagined soundtrack for an unmade future remake of The Shining, set in an abandoned luxury hotel in Dubai.

La Riviere

And while everything thus far has led to the water, here is a beautiful and lyrical video my very talented husband, Yana Kehrlein, made for a song I wrote. The archival film footage comes from the Edison Camera, at the dawn of a new age...

La Rivière from yana kehrlein on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I am walking through a church in Rome, stepping on the marble tombstones that make up the floor, past the dark wood of the confession booths and the statues of saints when I notice a small chapel by the entrance. Always drawn toward smaller proportions, structures within structures, I enter. There is nothing extraordinary about this chapel, it has all the elements one might expect in such a place, but on my way out I notice something. On a low table right by the entrance there are two open photo albums with no explanation above them or inside them.

I flip through: each page contains a collection of candid photographs. Moments from people’s lives. Two people kissing, someone standing in front of the sea, a man holding a child, a teenager riding a bike, strips of photos from dollar photo booths. Some are black and white, some sepia and faded, others are in full colour, film colour, with the greens and reds so brilliant they make you long for something you never experienced. I wonder who these people are and why their pictures are in the book. Do they need a miracle? Have they died? What strikes me in this church, with all the emphasis on the soul and the heavenly realm, is how earthly these photo albums are, how fleeting the lives within them and how I am able to have this strange look into their lives.

Friday, October 21, 2011

South Street Seaport

I've heard there's a monthly sea shanty sing at the South Street Seaport. Something about land-legged people gathering together to sing songs to stationary boats is intriguing—as though everyone is longing for a different life. I haven't decided whether its poetic or terrifying and I suppose I won't know until I check it out. In any case, living in New York but being originally from Vancouver, I've always liked to go down to the Seaport. I find the sound of the boats straining against the ropes and the wood groaning against the old water of the East River comforting. Still, I'm waiting for the time I will go down to the Seaport and discover that all the boats have left New York and moved on to open water.

This is a piece I wrote combining field recordings (made with my Zoom H4N) and my voice. The text is: names of the ships and their types and an excerpt from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Ship tracks off the coast of Alaska