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John Wynne: Anspayaxw

Listen to the endangered language of Gitxsanimax near Hazelton, BC in this Open Sound installation.

At the core of this technically innovative installation are six audiovisual portraits of members of the Gitxsan community speaking one of the numerous endangered aboriginal languages in British Columbia. Anspayaxw is an immersive installation for voice, image, and sound created by London-based artist John Wynne in collaboration with artist Denise Hawrysio and linguist Tyler Peterson. It powerfully conveys the importance of oral history and language diversity, but it also critically addresses issues of translation and the mediated relationships involved in fieldwork and research.

Integrated with the portraiture are environmental sounds and images from the reserve at Kispiox, near Hazelton, including street signs handmade by one of the project participants when she was a teenager. Anspayaxw is presented as part of Open Sound 2015: Polyphonic Cartograph, a three-part exhibition featuring sound art as forms of mapping and counter-mapping.

About the Artist

John Wynne is a Canadian sound artist currently living in London, UK. His practice, which is often research-led, includes large-scale, multi-channel installations for galleries and public spaces, delicate sound sculptures, flying radios, and composed documentaries that hover on the boundary between documentation and abstraction. His Installation for 300 speakers, player piano and vacuum cleaner became the first piece of sound art in the Saatchi Collection in 2009. In 2009, he also created the installation Wireframe for the Surrey Art Gallery in BC. His work with endangered languages includes the installation Hearing Voices (2005) and Anspayaxw (2010). In 2008, his work with heart and lung transplant patients, in collaboration with photographer Tim Wainwright, led to a book, a 24-channel installation, and commissions for CBC and BBC Radio. Wynne obtained his PhD from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and is a Reader in Sound Arts at the University of the Arts London.

Read more in the exhibition brochure.

Curator: Jordan Strom
Origin of Exhibition: Surrey Art Gallery

Image credit: Installation shot of John Wynne, Anspayaxw at Surrey Art Gallery 2015. Photo by Scott Massey.