Instant Places in Residence

Apr 4 — 28, 2007



While in residence, Instant Places—the artist duo of Ian Birse and Laura Kavanaugh— developed Operator, a noise opera that makes connections between speeches delivered in public over cellphones and the theatrical treatment of text in various forms of opera. 

The pair traveled throughout Vancouver on foot and transit with the purpose of recording cellphone monologues: overheard halves of conversations that are dramatic in tone with subject matter that seems like it is meant to be overheard. The artists transcribed the cellphone recordings as scripts, with plot points from classic operas worked in, to become the libretto for the improvised opera. 

A grand piano is the centerpiece of a scaffolded analogue-to-digital technical configuration, using live voice and tailored software to produce the opera’s score, transformed from non-digital components. Fitted with a Disklavier computer playback system, the piano was able to perform as both the soloists and orchestra. In addition, as audience members moved through the performance space, they were tracked by video to become the opera chorus.

Prior to their performance in the Grand Luxe Hall, Instant Places also delivered an artist talk and demonstration of Operator’s technical design and operation.

Curated by Peter Courtemanche.

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We acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as traditional owners of the land upon which Western Front stands.