During Sound Art Practices class, we were tasked to produce a somewhat subversive sound art intervention on the premises of the then newly built Concordia Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex Building.
We thought of how monkeys sitting in trees laughing at people passing by. In a concrete jungle such as downtown Montréal where the EV Building is located, such a sound would be jarring, we thought. Passersby would be surprised and would try and look around to find from where the sound originated, and find a little ball of fur, which could be reminiscent of a monkey.
This kind of irreverent intervention could be thought as similar to those of TV shows like Candid Camera.
The space we chose to install our small electronic monkey is the Abe and Harriet Gold Atrium, an entrance on the west side of the EV Building. The area is quite large, so the sudden starting and stopping of the monkey tape recording would be attenuated by its reverberation.
The building was originally conceived as an attempt to merge the disciplines of Engineering and Visual Arts—hence the name of the building—but anything arts-related quickly was confined to predetermined spaces. When security officers saw us install our piece and its wires, they quickly tried to prevent us from doing so. As the piece was meant to be subversive, and since I was a bit more of an ass then, I argued for a long time with the security officers, which eventually called the building manager, and the professor of our class.
After almost an hour of heated debates, we managed to convince the security people to let us install the piece, and we followed their instructions to keep things secure.
The intervention worked as we expected, baffling passersby.
We chose to hack a tape player and hook it to a PIR motion sensor so that when motion would be detected, the tape would play. We used connectors for both the motion sensor and the speaker, so that we could use off the shelf cables. That would then allow us to place the tape player—which was placed inside a furry pocket—and the sensor quite far apart.
Records of the intervention and the electronics themselves are lost.
Electronics, tape player, hairy pouch
- Mat Janson Blanchet: Concept, electronics
- Cristina Teixeira: hairy pouch, general assistance
- Martin Peach: Technical Assistance
Design, electronics, sound design
While studying Intermedia and Cyber Arts at Concordia University