a/v performance (2018)

When Once There Was is an audio/visual, non-narrative exploration of the shores of the Peace River in British Columbia; an area the BC Government approved for flooding as part of the development of Site ‘C’, the largest hydroelectric dam in the area.

When Once There Was is a live performance using audio and video footage captured from various sources around the Peace River Valley. It juxtaposes multiple, raw layers of riverbeds, shorelines and other threatened areas with footage of the desolation caused by the dam construction, all set to a soundtrack inspired by, and created with, recordings from the machinery of a similar British Columbia hydro-electric dam.  

The video portion is part of a long development cycle of a style Gendron has termed ‘vertigo’, consisting of video of lines and horizons, captured in movement, layered and flipped vertically. This technique works to create the uneasy sense of ‘persistent vision’ – when the image stops moving but one’s mind keeps the movement going – while simultaneously invoking a sense of comfortable travel, the feeling of moving forward through time while remaining in contemplation.  

The overwhelming oppressiveness of the physical and sonic environment led Hendrix to create a soundscape of ‘micro-drones’ – small, rhythmic snippets from the severe recordings of the dam environment, a sonic quantification to equal the harsh environmental quantification of the dam itself.

Video: Julie Gendron
Sound: Emma Hendrix    

Performance History:

  • Sounds Like Audio Festival, Saskatoon, September 2018
  • Particle and Wave Media Art Festival, Calgary, February 2019

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.