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#Iwanttodrawyourband does UNSOUND TORONTO

June 23, 2015

This past Saturday for a very special edition of #Iwanttodrawyourband, Ashley Grafe and I collaborated on a live painting at one of the coolest and most unique events I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending.

This past weekend Luminato brought the Krakow-based festival Unsound, to breathe life back into the abandoned Hearn Generating Station. The decommissioned power plant occupies an interesting space in the city’s psychogeography. Situated in the heart of the Toronto Port Lands (a site where imminent revitalization plans are the source of much debate), the Hearn represents a possibility of what could be if the city’s redesign allowed artists to reimagine the unused space as a worldclass centre for the arts.

Luminato’s grandiose vision for the future of the Hearn certainly left a lot to live up to, and Unsound didn’t disappoint. Their treatment of the Hearn saw the entire space lit up & reanimated as part of a giant, immersive night of installation art for festival attendees with music as the pulse.

An unusually thought-provoking blend of sound art, experimental, and industrial music dominated the main stage- each piece paired with a visual component to accompany the experience. With the bass turned up loud enough for patrons to feel as well as hear the music, and especially with Unsound’s emphasis to turn off devices, and selfie free zones during certain sets- there were moments when the total sensory experience was somewhat (but not unpleasantly) overwhelming. This was especially true during “Double Vision”, a collaborative piece between Atom TM & Robin Fox featuring a laser show and some pretty intense visuals in RGB. For this performance we were asked to turn off the small light we were using to paint with, and maybe it’s not a coincedence that this set ends up becoming the part of the evening which really stands out in memory for me.

The sense of scale was such an intrinisic part of the experience, with the size of the venue and the creative choices of the artists suggesting a scale larger than human. In Ben Frost’s performance you got the impression that the music maker was a sky god using the elements of thunder and lightning to mesmerize the audience. Meanwhile Lillevan’s live animation of Morton Subotnick’s “Silver Apples of the Moon” takes us on a psychedelic voyage through time and space. Finally we become a little overwhelmed by all the art, and decide to simply venture through and enjoy the space itself, which has been lit up and decorated with some props which are well suited to the overall tone of the weekend’s festivities. Excited festival patrons sit on overturned trees provided as benches, or take turns posing with carwrecks which look like they were pulled from the set of Mad Max. We make our way to the side room where a dark dance party is in full swing.

Overall, the evening absolutely delivered on an epic night of artistic and urban exploration- which delighted the diverse audience of spectators that came out (an audience ranging from art collectors and socialites, to music nerds, clubbers, and the odd cyber punk). My hope is that the success of Unsound will help spur the public consciousness towards a more permanent use of this building for future arts and music events.

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Now to switch gears and talk a little bit about the painting. This painting is 2ft tall X 3ft wide, and was created during the event of the duration of several hours. It was made with acrylic paints and oil pastels on wood panel. Usually when we do drawings for #Iwanttodrawyourband, we focus on the bands. However for this particular event, we weren’t very close to front of the stage, and the visual element of the show was overall more about the visuals playing out on the big screen behind the musicians rather than the musicians themselves. We tried to capture the overall feeling of the show and being in that space.

unsoundtoronto

Note* now that we’ve been able to photograph the painting, it is for sale. You can contact nataschamalta@gmail.com for sales.

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