Mediating a Performative Response to Contested Urban Sites:
The Gorilla Park Project
In the fall of 2019, PULSE researchers undertook a project to engage with acoustic urban ecologies and the ways that sound(s) locate us in space and time. Our key urban interlocutor was Gorilla Park, an interstitial and irregular shaped parcel of urban land located on a disused railway track, in Montreal’s rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood, Mile Ex. Although various corporate stakeholders moving into the area are documented in the dialogues concerning Gorilla Park’s future, the central focus remains within the sphere of community activism and ecological preservation. For us, Gorilla Park acted as an intermediary space to explore the impact of the surrounding AI-focused corporate occupants fueling a very specific kind of urban transformation. Gorilla Park is a site driven by algorithmic governance. In this exhibition we reflect upon the affective immaterial presence of data surveillance in the reshaping and planning of urban spaces.
Drawing from Brandon LaBelle’s notion of sonic agencies and his figure of the “overheard” (2018) afforded us a radical and political approach towards listening, thereby “unsettl[ing] and exceed[ing] arenas of visibility by relating us to the unseen, the non-represented or the not-yet-apparent” acoustic agencies (both human and non-human) shaping Gorilla Park’s present and future (LaBelle, 2018). Our attunement to the inaudible frequencies circulating around the site prompted further investigation into the invisible/visible forces of urban change taking place along the site’s peripheries and throughout the neighbourhood of Mile Ex, opening a door into larger questions of Surveillance Capitalism, and the ways that smart technologies are mediating and codifying the cultural production of urban space.
Our exhibition with JAR (forthcoming) foregrounds a collective and performative approach to artistic research processes, by showcasing a compilation of acoustic and visual materials taken from zoom meetings, google earth imagery, poetic reflections, photographic and 360˚ video documentation; mediating our interaction with Gorilla Park.
The interdisciplinary research-creation team who participated in this project are made up of artist-researchers and scholars with backgrounds in the fields of urbanism, performance, design, architecture, spatial and sound art practices. We are: Niels Gommesen, Shauna Janssen, Katrina Jurjans, Allison Peacock, Eduardo Perez, Kristine Samson, and christian scott.do Perez, Kristine Samson, and christian scott.
Stay tuned for the launch of our exhibition with JAR.
Exhibition authors: Shauna Janssen, Katrina Jurjans, Eduaro Perez, and christian scott.