Still Creek Salmon Sounds

Brady Ciel Marks, Helena Krobath, Jennifer Schine, Dr. Naxaxalhts’i (Albert “Sonny” McHalsie), Marc St Pierre, Emma Atkinson, Pietro Sammarco

Fri, Nov 30, 2018

Final event Nov 30, 2018 — 6:30pm — 2650 Kaslo Street

Why did the salmon return to Still Creek after an 80 year absence? What can we learn about our continued cohabitation by listening to the dynamics of this creek?

Reflecting sonically on these and further questions, Patricia AngkiriwangAdrian AvendanoKellen JacksonDonna LiuAbigail MarkowitzRuby Spring, and Sheridan Tamayo-Henderson have employed soundscape composition and data sonification to create an immersive installation. Photography by Matthew Armstrong & Jasmine Galdamez. Guiding the team are artist-mentors Brady MarksHelena Krobath and Jennifer Schine, as well as Stó:lō historian Naxaxalhts’i, award-winning sonification researcher Marc St. Pierre, aquatic ecologist Emma Atkinson, and sound designer Pietro Sammarco. This project was co-produced with Still Moon Arts Society and was coordinated by Pietro Sammarco.  Equipment, facilities, and technical support provided by VIVO. Primary funding generously provided by Telus.

Still Creek Salmon Sounds was a mentorship project providing technical and conceptual support to create a sound-based installation artwork exploring the salmon spawning season in a local creek

Participants wove together environmental sound recordings with a series of photographs taken on location in the creek. They also learned to sonify data about the creek’s rehabilitation, as a way of listening for patterns otherwise hidden to the eye.

The project ran from September to December, 2018.

Project Background

In 2017, chum salmon returned to spawn in East Van’s Still Creek for the 5th straight year, following an 80-year absence. What seems like a kind of miracle is actually the result of sustained community-led efforts to learn about the creek, educate the public, and tighten up environmental regulations to prevent industrial wastewater from draining into this body of water. The fact that salmon return to spawn in Still Creek is directly tied to this waterway’s present condition. The salmon act as a barometer for understanding Still Creek’s condition and the intricate relationships that make up this environment. This project uses sound recording to provoke a situated exploration of a watershed we so often take for granted.

Primary funding generously provided by Telus.

Participating artists were interviewed on the radio about their process. It’s a 1 hour interview on the Soundscape show on Vancouver Co-op Radio CFRO 100.5FM. You can here them divulge the gritty details of their process and selections of their audio works here:

This video shows parts of the creative process engaged by the mentorship participants. Shot by Paige SmithDevan Scott, and Pietro Sammarco, it was edited by Devan Scott.

Jasmine and Matthew picture

A huge thank you to Matthew and Jasmine who took all the photos that document this mentorship, as part of a work placement through their high school.

Their outstanding photographic stories, seen below, offer a glimpse into the process engaged by the mentorship team in creating their sound works.

Artist Profile

Brady Ciel Marks

Brady Ciel Marks is the lead mentor for this project. She is a digital media artist who works with Sound, Light and Kinetics. She holds a Masters in Interactive Arts from Simon Fraser University (SFU) and an undergraduate degree with honours in Computer Science from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

In conjunction with VIVO Media Arts Centre (Vancouver), Brady received Innovations grant funding from the British Columbia Arts Council for the research and creation of a Volumetric Display Device that generates interactive 3D sculptural images using light. The device was presented at the 2015 International Symposium on Electronic Art and at Science World at Telus World of Science. As a graduate of Simon Fraser University taught by faculty including original members of the World Soundscape Project (WSP) including Hildegard Westerkamp. Recently she presented a 24 Hour broadcast of a Saturna Island Soundscape, on Earth Day in sync to local time as part of the Wetland Project. She is a frequent host of Soundscape on Co-op Radio, as well as a member of the Vancouver Electronic Ensemble and a DJ working under the alias of furiousgreencloud.

As a teacher, Brady has guest lectured in SFU’s School of Interactive Arts & Technology, Film Program, and School of Communication, where she also served as an external examiner. She has lead workshops in physical computing and digital media manipulation at VIVO Media Arts, where she also led the Still Creek Salmon Sounds mentorship in 2018.

Helena Krobath

Helena Krobath was born in Matsqui and grew up in Mission and Abbotsford, BC. Her family immigrated from across Eastern Europe to Manitoba and British Columbia in the 1930s and 1950s. She lives in Vancouver, on unceded and occupied territory.

Helena takes keen interest in how information is created and communicated. Her fieldwork in places like ports and recreational nature zones investigates how infrastructures, sensory tuning, and narratives co-construct place. Her practices include radio, electroacousic composition, photography, painting, writing, and soundwalking. She has taught workshops on sound, sensory observation, and field recording, including Audio Story-crafting for VIVO in 2017; assisting in VIVO’s 2018 mentorship, Still Creek Salmon Sounds; and leading VIVO's 2019 mentorship on Vancouver Housing Stories. She has given presentations with the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, CiTR 101.9 FM (UBC), the Feminist Media Studio, Vancouver Podcast Festival, and more.

Helena collaborates on soundwalks and interactive events with Vancouver New Music and Vancouver Soundwalk Collective. She composed a soundscape for Echos and Reflections: A co-located audio mapping exchange, hosted by Lancaster University’s Centre for Mobilities Research and published the Journal of Design and Culture’s first audio-essay in their special issue on COVID-19 (exploring political economic dimensions of “sheltering in place” through changing soundscapes of East Vancouver). She created audio work for Arts Assembly (Ghost Story Commute), New Adventures in Sound Art’s Deep Wireless 14 Transmission Festival (I dreamt this was my home), and Frank Theatre (Be-Longing sound design). Helena has co-hosted the Soundscape Show on Vancouver Co-op Radio and volunteers with Vancouver Tenants Union.

Jennifer Schine

Jennifer Schine is an award-winning sound artist, broadcaster, and community-engaged researcher whose work explores the oral histories and soundscapes of coastal British Columbia. Passionate about public engagement and collaborative projects, Jenni has extended her academic work into film, radio, electroacoustic composition, and installations. She holds a MA in Acoustic Communication from Simon Fraser University and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Victoria. From 2007 to 2013, Jennifer was an active member of the Vancouver Soundwalk Collective. She has worked closely with electroacoustic composer and activist, Hildegard Westerkamp, and in 2017 produced The Ecology of Sound: Hildegard Westerkampfor CBC Ideas, which has been re-broadcasted internationally.

As a sound scholar and artist, Jennifer teaches courses and workshops in both the city and the wilderness, including Acoustic Ethnography and Science Storytelling at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre. Jenni coordinates a residency at Salmon Coast Field Station in the Broughton Archipelago, B.C. that brings together scientists and arts to study salmon, and helped mentor VIVO’s mentorship, Still Creek Salmon Sounds in 2018. She co-facilitated a five-day workshop, A Story from Hear: Place-based Podcasts at HollyhockJenni currently serves on the board of the Salmon Coast Field Station Society, is the Arts, Culture, and Ethnographer Advisor for the Sfaira Foundation, and referees for the BC Studies Quarterly Journal’s Soundworks section.

Dr. Naxaxalhts’i (Albert “Sonny” McHalsie)

Dr. Naxaxalhts’i (Albert “Sonny” McHalsie) is the Cultural Advisor/Historian of the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre. Naxaxalhts’i has worked for the Stó:lō as a researcher in cultural heritage and aboriginal rights and title issues since 1985. He contributed to and served on the editorial board of the award winning publication A Stó:lō Coast Salish Historical Atlas (2001), amoung other titles. His areas of expertise include Halq’eméylem Place Names, Fishing, and Stó:lō Oral History. He continues to fish at his ancestral fishing ground at Aseláw in the Stó:lō Five Fishery in the lower Fraser River canyon.

Marc St Pierre

Marc St Pierre is a researcher and a community engaged artist in the classroom. His main creative medium is data, which he maps to sound in a practice called sonification. In his lab as well as his maker space, Marc blurs the lines between science and art by building technology to express environmental data as sound. Fostering an ecological and environmental sensibility through data communication, his practice challenges and extends existing systems of scientific knowledge distribution. Marc has won a handful of awards for his work, the most recent being Best Use of Sound at the International Conference for Auditory Display for his publication on air quality sonification. He regularly teaches in a range of topics including programming, sound editing and making, and has also been commissioned to work with community organizations like City Opera Vancouver, the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and the City of Surrey among others.

Emma Atkinson

Emma Atkinson is an aquatic ecologist and undergraduate Honours student in the John Reynolds lab at Simon Fraser University. She researches salmon biology and behaviour, and is also co-founder and executive editor of the SFU Science Undergraduate Research Journal.

Pietro Sammarco

Pietro graduated from the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University, combining the fields of soundscape composition and media education. He records bands, does music and sound for film, and DJ’s karaoke. He’s also designed audio production workshops and mentored for a wide range of organizations, including VIVO, the Western Front, the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, and when serving as Resident Audio Expert for the the Vancouver Public Library’s Inspiration Lab. He is co-editor of Spoox Audiozine; was a member of local performance art group Norma; toured extensively as a trombonist with They Shoot Horses,