This past Thursday night was the latest installment of Saint John’s Open Arts series that seeks to bring together experimental music and different art forms in a collaborative way. This performance featured two sisters, Karin and Gerd Aurell. Karin is a flutist, Gerd is a visual artist who uses old school (literally) projectors to create works of art on transparencies. The two have been performing together since 2009, bringing their artistic talents together in a unique way.
The performance centres on a single piece of music, Church Forest, composed by André Cormier specifically for these two artists. The show feels a lot like magic, but it’s surprisingly scientific. Karin plays the sixty minute piece in ten six-minute segments, Each segment is recorded and then layered together and revealed in the final, complete, six-minute piece.
Meanwhile, Gerd creates three visual art panels using different projectors and some very unique media; one panel is created using corn syrup and molasses. Each stroke is placed precisely, dictated by the musical composition. The resulting performance is mesmerizing, as the visual artist moves methodically between projectors, soft notes from the flutist filling the air.
That is, up until about midway through the performance when a breaker is tripped and the lights of two of the projectors suddenly go out. Such are the hazards of inadvertently overloading circuits.
For a performance as carefully timed as this one, such a setback would certainly spell disaster. Karin resolutely played on, continuing to record, but Gerd sat helplessly by while Andrew Reed Miller, the coordinator of Open Arts, worked to get the projectors up and running again.
The remainder of the performance went off without a hitch. Gerd was somehow magically able to catch up to the music, finishing in perfect time with her sister, and the audience was finally able to see and hear the finished product.
“It’s a total role reversal for the visual artist,” says Cormier, “they usually just paint when they want.” For the audience, the performance is much like watching a puzzle come together: as each piece is laid it brings you closer to the truth, but you must wait until the end to see the whole picture.
To learn more about Open Arts and see the schedule of upcoming events, please visit www.openartssj.com