Jenn E. Norton is a Canadian artist working with interdisciplinary media including video, installation, sound, and kinetic sculpture to produce performative, critically engaged work that plays with the elastic qualities inherent in digital technologies. Norton has won numerous grants, awards and scholarships, including the OCAD Integrated Media Medal for excellence in an interdisciplinary practice. She received an MFA from the University of Guelph in 2007, and has worked as an educator, freelance animator, painter, and circus performer. 2011 brings Norton’s work to Rooftop Films Summer Series in Brooklyn, The Canadian Film Centre's World Wide Short Film Festival in Toronto, The Yukon Art’s Centre, The Winnipeg Film Group's Cinematheque, and Pleasure Dome’s New Toronto Works. Norton will be also be a featured artist at CAFKA.11, where in addition to premiering her immersive, interactive 3D video installation created during her 2011 residency at Christie Digital, there will also be a 3D animated public projection at Kitchener’s City Hall.
1. Clara Rockmore
I have long loved the haunting wail of the theremin. I’m into the musical saw as well, but something in the compositions I heard played with a theremin struck a chord. For a time, I carried it with me as my life’s soundtrack, unconsciously singing in warbling falsetto when working (probably irking my coworkers to no end), and I dreamt of making sounds for my videos with that mournful voice and its boundless range. Unable to adequately recreate it in software, I built a theremin a few years ago from a Moog kit, and with the kit came a DVD of Clara Rockmore, the Lithuanian violin prodigy who became the quintessential theremin virtuoso and the musician muse of the instrument’s inventor Léon Theremin. It was her graceful hand waving through radio frequency and her skilled fingers needling invisible frets that had authored the sound I associated with the theremin. Her poise, control, eccentricity, and, above all, her ability to emote musically has claimed permanent real estate in my ear’s memory, to be played whenever I need to hear the longing song of an analogue siren.
2. GoPro Hero camera
This summer my partner Scott McGovern and I have been shooting with the GoPro camera. It is a small camera that records onto an SD card with a waterproof housing unit and a suction cup mount that can stick to almost any surface (so far we have had it on our car, our stroller, in a swimming pool, and in my coffee). Here is a video of it going into outer space - well, almost.
3. Delia Derbyshire
When I was a kid, there was one song that would send me into a fear-ridden stupor and turn my blood to ice with such an eerie chill it took hours to thaw. As it aired regularly on TVO, I was in the grips of fear on a weekly basis! Many sounds and images that cause inexplicable psychological or mental discomfort become intriguing and curious to me later, and this is the case with the theme song for Dr Who. Composer Delia Derbyshire realized the track over a lunch hour and disliked how the show’s producers kept “tarting it up” with effects. (Here is a great video of her demonstrating a snippet of her process.) She was a British pioneer of electronic music, unassuming and brilliant. She also co-produced four episodes of Inventions for Radio for the BBC Third Programme with Barry Bermange in which electronic sounds provide auditory illustrations to describe dreams. There has recently been a discovery of 267 reel-to-reel tapes of her unreleased work that I hope to hear someday.
4. Grey Gardens
Scott and I can’t stop speaking in New England accents after we watched Grey Gardens. The documentary made by the Maysle Brothers (Gimme Shelter, Salesman) brings us knee-deep into the raccoon poop haven where Little Edie and Big Edie Beale, cousin and aunt of Jacqueline Bouvier, hash out their mother-daughter dynamics in near isolation - save for the film cameras. We couldn’t get enough of the Edies and have since watched The Beales of Grey Gardens and the 2009 HBO film Grey Gardens. The reclusive socialites became destitute and lived in squalor, feeding hordes of cats and feral animals, and designing clothes from eclectic materials in unusual ways, and in my opinion, looking fabulous.
5. Kikkerland Rainbow Maker!!!
I have this in my baby’s room. I want one to adorn every window in my apartment.
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