Emine Mira Ava Hunter (née Burke) is an often-nomadic visual artist, born in Vancouver. She is a second-generation whirling dervish, an environmentalist, an optimist and she loves music, knitting and her disaster stray calico, Burak. She has spent the last decade touring the world at large with Mercan Dede, and is one of the original members of his performance ensemble Secret Tribe. She graduated from NSCAD University in Halifax, where she fell in love with her magnificent husband and primary collaborator, fellow visual artist Derek Hunter. She was awarded the Ellen Battell Stoeckel fellowship to study at Yale University, where she met Mary Mattingly. In 2009 Mira worked and lived onboard Waterpod™ project in New York City with Mary and Derek, among other artists, engineers and visionaries. She is currently pursuing her MFA at Columbia University in New York.
1.11 >>This semester I am taking the course Listening: An Ethnology of Sound at Columbia University with John Pemberton. As part of our investigation into everything audible, I have been making amateur sound environment recordings, writing about the process, and posting it on SoundCloud. This first recording was made in mid January walking the Upper West Side of New York. <top>
Soundwalk 013111 by gatherer
Walking the Upper West Side of New York City in winter, an excerpt. Written for the course Listening: An Ethnology of Sound with John Pemberton at Columbia University.
We begin to hear before we are born, four and a half months after conception. From then on, we develop in a continuous and luxurious bath of sounds: the song of our mother’s voice, the swash of her breathing, the trumpeting of her intestines, the timpani of her heart. – Walter Murch.
What is the quietest sound in my body? I am four and a half months pregnant today. A study conducted in Ireland using ultrasound, observed physical reactions in fetuses to measured pulses of sound 2 months before the completion of the ear. This would suggest that there is more to hearing than the ear alone. I have been acutely aware in this class that I am not the only one listening. I can only imagine how this other set of alien ears experiences our shared environment. It was less than one week ago that I first felt the ‘quickening’. I felt a delicate, fluttery sensation deep in my pelvis, like a caught moth trying to escape. Since that moment I have had a new sense with which to interpret how this tiny other hears and feels my world.
I bundled up against the cold for my soundwalk. The locks clicked open, the characteristic whine of an old metal spring sounded as I pulled the door towards me. The door closed with a sharp, heavy thud. The delicate chimes of metal on metal as my collection of keys locked the door behind me. It echoed in the tall space of the tiled foyer.
I opened the outer door into the street, and everything changed. The inside soft hum of the refrigerator and the distant din of outside traffic was replaced by the very real outside sound environment. My winter boots crunched against slick frozen snow accompanied by the shuffle of my heavy coat moving against my body with every stride, and the sounds of my inhale and exhale of chilled city air. I heard the drone of the generator hidden in the kebab cart on the corner, and the deep vibrating sounds of heavy trucks passing though the intersection.
I turned to walk south down Amsterdam Avenue. I noticed the pointed footfalls of the high heel boots of a woman walking next to me. I managed to catch a passing phrase spoken by another woman passing me, as she talked into her cell phone. ‘I am on my way to class’ she said, speaking to the electronic device. I walked under a construction awning, unable to decipher a conversation between two women conversing with animation. The acoustics in the tunneled space activated their voices, increasing their volume and the tinniness of their pitch. Then I found myself adjacent to a community garden, hidden under deep snow. The local bird population perched in the barren trees didn’t seem to mind. I was able to recognize the calls of common house sparrows and starlings above the noise of the street corner.
I stepped inside a deli to purchase a notepad. I heard the metallic sounds of African pop music emitted from a cheap stereo. The storekeeper was discussing something in an accented, muffled voice with a customer at the counter. They didn’t stock stationary, so I stepped out into the street again.
I finally opened the door into the Hungarian Pastry Shop. There was an insulated quality to the inside hum of human conversation, tempered with the clangs of cutlery against ceramic dishes and the sounds of steam from the espresso machine. There are so many voices I can only interpret excerpts of abstracted dialogue. Babies are born recognizing their mother’s speech. This is the initial stage of language comprehension (It is no mystery why one’s first language is referred to as one’s mother tongue). They spend this early period afloat, listening to the echo of their mother’s voice through her body. When my body is quiet, I can sense the novel, internal shudder of movement. I sit and sip ceylon tea and wonder how much of this day has been heard by those new, unfamiliar ears. <top>
1.11 >>My father was recently interviewed for this amazing new film called The Clean Bin Project, a documentary about doing less in Vancouver, BC. "A competition where less is more. A couple attempt to stop buying stuff and produce zero waste for a year. A comedic documentary with a positive approach to the usual doom and gloom environmental film." For the blog and more info on the project: cleanbinproject.com<top>
>>Mira + Derek Hunter: Time Machine Installation at A1C Gallery and Community Whirling Workshops and Performances in St. John's, Newfoundland, as part of the 20th anniversary of the Festival of New Dance. I will be joined my members of the community who have participated in my two day whirling workshop.. Together we will flashmob whirl in the greater community of St. John's. I will be on hand to talk about my practice and explain how I apply it to my studies and her artistic projects. I will also demonstrate the technique and discuss aspects of its cultural and spiritual relevance at The Rooms. Free Admission.
>>Work related to Waterpod™ by the artists involved in the project will open September 11th 2010 at 3 pm at Occurrence Espace D'Art et D'Essai Contemporains: 5277 Avenue Du Parc, Montreal, QC H2V 4G9, Canada, Tel: (514) 397-0236. The exhibition will be on view until October 16 2010. Vernissage: Le Samedi 11 Septembre à 15H. Les expositions se poursuivent jusqu'au 16 Octobre. Mary Mattingly présente en solo The Anatomy of Melancholy. Dans l'archipel du Waterpod. Exposition regroupant: Mira + Derek Hunter, Alison Ward, BGL, Carissa Carman, Logan Smith, Charles Stankievech, Diane Borsato, Frédérique Saia, Geneviève Rousseau, Gregory Chatonsky, Ian Daniel, Jean-Pierre Bourgault, Kate Greenslade, Marc Dulude, Rodney Latourelle, Sylvie Cotton. Commissaire et artiste: Ève K. Tremblay. <top>
09.10 >>An interview with Dutch artist Saskia Old Wolbers on the making of her magical stop motion animation about the Three Gorges Dam. <top>
09.10 >>The Peanut Vendor, an experimental animation from 1933 by Len Lye, is the earliest known work that uses replacement mouths synced to a soundtrack.