A Performative Response to Smartness and Sites of Surveillance: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 them in space and time. The interdisciplinary research-creation team is made up of  artist-researchers with backgrounds in the fields of urbanism, performance, design, architecture, spatial and sound art practices. 


The key interlocutor for this project is Gorilla Park, an irregular shaped parcel of land located on a disused railway track,  in a Montreal neighbourhood called Marconi-Alexandria, and adjacent to  the neighbourhoods of Mile-End and Parc-Extension, currently a rapidly gentrifying quarter of the city. The uneven development in this part of the city is, in part, due to the increasing presence of Big Data and Smart City start-up companies.


The politics of the smart city discourse are deeply entangled with ideas of the ‘right to the city,’ and brings into question: who is the smart city for? What is a smart city? As part of encounter with this site we observe current trends towards connectivity and mediated urban environments, generally predicated upon a ‘digital agenda,’ wherein the privileged position of smart and intelligent technologies is being furthered. In this multimedia exposition our aim is to explore how performative, scenographic, and sonic understandings of urbanism and urbanity open up intersectional perspectives and inclusive ways for how we experience “intelligent” cities? 


Due to the global pandemic, we began to collaborate remotely and work with the documentation of our temporary occupation and in-situ exploration of Gorilla Park, which included sampling sound recordings and conversations we shared; problematizing surveillance capitalism and concepts of the visible/ invisible and what sound scholar Brandon Labelle refers to as the ‘overheard’ (2018).


This unfolding and iterative approach to creating an online exposition is also considered a collaborative platform with a focus on performative methods of artistic research taking place in contested urban spaces; foregrounding the experimental use of bespoke sound devices and 360˚ video recordings, to situated methods such as walking, and hacking Google Earth imagery.  


Collaborators: Niels Gommesen, Shauna Janssen, Katrina Jurjans, Eduaro Perez, Kristine Samson, and christian scott.

Keywords: acoustic urban ecologies, gentrification, surveillance capitalism, smart cities, performative urbanism

Stay tuned for the launch of our collective audio-visual paper.