Skip navigation

One River (running)

Listen to stories about Surrey's past and imagined future, recorded by Surrey citizens.

One River (running) is an interactive, immersive media environment—a kind of participatory cinema. Its complex system of moving sound and images echo the river’s undulating geographic form. As a metaphor of culture and history, it is designed to reflect the contemporary Canadian multi-cultural community that is Surrey.

Upon entering the gallery, visitors face 32 ceiling hung, oval screens reflecting video images of speaking lips. Or visitors may see, projected on these screens and the four walls of the gallery, moving images from the natural environment. Small speakers, hidden in the ceiling, broadcast a symphony of voices and other sounds. Discretely placed under the carpet are pressure sensors. A web cam is barely visible, mounted in the ceiling. As visitors move through the gallery, they influence their visual and sonic experience. For example, as visitors approach the screens, their position may affect one of many simultaneous stories being spoken—it may become louder than the others.

The talking voices narrate stories about Surrey—its past, present, and imagined future. Projected images of people’s mouths speak these words. Although the stories are mostly told in English, one may also hear many of the languages spoken by Surrey’s citizens. Stories may be told from various cultural perspectives and spoken by children or elders.

Other sounds in the exhibit include a multi-speaker broadcast of recordings from Surrey’s natural environment—frogs, birds, a mosquito, water, as well as sounds of the urban environment—the Skytrain, traffic, children playing, the sounds of construction or a shopping mall. Visitors can explore the interactive aspects of the sound as they walk through the exhibit.

The artwork’s images originate from digital photographs of the mouths of people that were interviewed by the team. These still images were then computer animated—programmed to become a kind of puppet. The mouths recognize the voices, and speak the words they “hear”. This is achieved by a voice recognition software program created by the artists. This synchronization is occurring in real time—the video is “listening” and responding to the audio.

About the Artists

Aleksandra Dulic

Aleksandra Dulic is a media artist, researcher and experimental film director. Her research centres on algorithmic cinema and animation, software art, the ontology of the open work, and multi-modal scenography for theatre. Aleksandra has participated in a number of exhibitions with her interactive and mixed media installations. She has done public artwork, and directed documentary films, short videos and animations produced for television broadcast and film festival screenings in Europe and Canada.

Martin Gotfrit

As a composer Martin Gotfrit's work includes electroacoustic and acoustic scores for feature and documentary film, video, theatre, dance and the concert stage. As a sound designer he has worked as a practitioner, consultant and teacher. He has been on faculty at the School for the Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University since 1981 where he currently holds the position of Director.

Kenneth Newby

Kenneth Newby is a media artist and an assistant professor in the School for Interactive Art and Technology at Simon Fraser University. His media art consists of works for responsive kinetic materials, sound sculpture, interactive audiovisual performance works, compact disc editions of music and spoken word, and DVD editions of music and experimental animation.

Dinka Pignon

Dinka Pignon is an interdisciplinary artist working in video installation and performance art. Dealing with "mixed realities", her work is characterized by a strong affinity for the phenomenal, conceptual, and liminal. She has shown throughout Europe, in the USA, Canada, and Asia.

Image credit: Installation image of One River (running) by Aleksandra Dulic, Martin Gotfrit, Kenneth Newby, and Dinka Pignon at Surrey Art Gallery.