Sounds like art

Daniela Cinel O’Fee has created a fascinating piece of art as part of Culture Days in Kamloops. Culture Days is a national program where artists create art that is accessible or participatory and in this case woven like wires into our every day life. The theme for 2020 is Unexpected Intersections and O’Fee, who is a pianist in Kamloops, took participants on a sound journey through time and space.

O’Fee’s work, titled Code…Encode…Decode: A Subjective Soundwalk, involved four unique sound stations consisting of plastic containers attached to poles. Each box has a QR code which can be scanned, bringing up a link to a sound piece she has created. Headphones were recommended, which I promptly forgot to bring, but I think it actually enhanced the experience although I would like to really listen to each piece again. I took my camera and took pictures of images at the locations that made me think, or were inspired by the sounds. It was a wonderful experience.

A QR code waiting to be scanned.

4th and Seymour

The first location I went to was located at the old Kamloops Daily News site at 4th and Seymour. It is now a parking lot and hopefully, in the future, will be a new arts centre. I thought each piece was just going to be a selection of sounds but I was surprised and happy that this particular location featured O’Fee improvising on the piano with the sound of typewriter keys frantically playing over top. The typewriter keys in that location told us what was happening in our community and in the world. Their sound is missed in an age where often people don’t take the time to stop and think and choose their words with care. Computers are fine, but sometimes they are too fast for deep thoughts and analysis. The layers of sound, which also include the sound of the demolition of the building, are carefully thought out and crafted.

Dying flowers overlook the parking spaces where the Daily News once was

200 block of Victoria St.

The next place I went was on the 200 block of Victoria Street where O’Fee explored the percussive potential of different objects surrounding the location of the box. I can just picture out in the middle of the night tapping on stones, walls, iron gates, and the nearby bike rack. I met a gentleman with headphones who was also taking part in the artwork and we had a nice chat which made the experience even more special.

The Red Bridge

My third stop was at the Red Bridge near the pedestrian walk way. Very close to where her childhood home was, this stop was rich in family history and as I heard child speaking Italian I could almost feel the warmth of a house. It left me a bit haunted about my own childhood and my dad who passed away a year ago. The sounds of birds were breathtaking.

Riverside Park

My final stop was at Riverside Park where a large group of Canada Geese were guarding the post with the box and the QR code attached. After some negotiation I was allowed to approach and scan the code. O’Fee’s piano and percussion improvisation showed up again and the sounds of water running and splashing from the end of the summer when swimmers were still in inspired a bright and nostalgic feeling. An added bonus was a violinist playing near the playground.

I noticed at each of these locations that I was hyper aware of the sounds around me. Traffic, voices, leaves rustling, footsteps – I felt like I was hearing some of them for the first time. It made me think about sound design in film and how much sound can affect what is normally a visually dominant world. I really loved this experience and I hope O’Fee and other local musicians create more work like this in the future.

It’s been a really long time since I did a blog post but I really needed somewhere to collect my thoughts today and this seemed like the best place. There will probably be more in the future. It turns out I missed it.

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