Leó Stefánsson: Spectrograms from a Video Archive

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Thursday, May 14, 2015
Friday, June 5, 2015

Opening Date
Wed, May 13, 2015 7pm

“Spectrograms from a Video Archive” is a new media installation by VIVO artist-in-residence Leó Stefánsson.

Stefánsson has applied spectrography and sonification techniques to analyze a selection of video from the Crista Dahl Media Library and Archive. His work reveals recurring patterns and anomalies within this extensive video corpus by utilizing purposely crafted signal transmutations. Beyond the visual and acoustic results of these analyzes, “Spectrograms from a Video Archive” provides a unique synesthetic experience for those who engage with it. The material qualities of the work generate possibilities for embodied knowledge as they are absorbed by the audience within the physical space of the gallery.

Through unique dissections and recompositions of the Crista Dahl Media Library and Archive, “Spectrograms from a Video Archive” explores perceived boundaries between physics, the arts, archival practices, private ownership and collective, public knowledge. Stefansson also provides the basis for a larger inquiry into the creation of a cataloguing tool for video archives — one that identifies and categorizes video through inherent aesthetic and formal qualities while also recognizing inevitable, accumulative losses of information due to compression and preservation issues.

Photo documentation

Venue Accessibility

VIVO is located in the homelands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples in a warehouse space at 2625 Kaslo Street south of East Broadway at the end of E 10th. Transit line 9 stops at Kaslo Street on Broadway. From the bus stop, the path is paved, curbless, and on a slight decline. The closest skytrain station is Renfrew Station, which is three blocks south-east of VIVO and has an elevator. From there, the path is paved, curbless, and on a slight incline. There is parking available at VIVO, including wheelchair access parking. There is a bike rack at the entrance. The front entrance leads indoors to a set of 7 stairs to the lobby.

Wheelchair/Walker Access

A wheelchair ramp is located at the west side of the main entrance. The ramp has two runs: the first run is 20 feet long, and the second run is 26 feet. The ramp is 60 inches wide. The slope is 1:12. The ramp itself is concrete and has handrails on both sides. There is an outward swinging door (34 inch width) at the top of the ramp leading to a vestibule. A second outward swinging door (33 inch width) opens into the exhibition space. Buzzers and intercoms are located at both doors to notify staff during regular office hours or events to unlock the doors. Once unlocked, visitors can use automatic operators to open the doors.


There are two all-gender washrooms. One has a stall and is not wheelchair accessible. The other is a single room with a urinal and is wheelchair accessible: the door is 33 inches wide and inward swinging, without automation. The toilet has 11 inch clearance on the left side and a handrail.

To reach the bathrooms from the studio, exit through the double doors and proceed straight through the lobby and down the hall . Turn left, and the two bathrooms will be on your right side. The closest one has a stall and is not wheelchair accessible. The far bathroom is accessible.

About the 

Leó Stefánsson graduated from the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2011 and will soon complete the MAA Visual Arts program at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. In his work Leó explores the relationship between mind and matter and their common denominators; frequency and amplitude. Mental states can be distinguished and identified by extracting a list of frequencies contained in the brain’s electrical signal, and physical states (objects, things) can be described in the same terms by analyzing the acoustic space. Leó uses a range of programming tools and electronics to construct systems of translation between consciousness, matter, light and sound.


Scientist by day, writer by night, Dominic Walliman got his PhD in quantum device physics from the University of Birmingham in the UK. He now lives in Vancouver working at the futuristic technology company D-Wave, where he programs quantum computers and makes films. In his spare time he writes science books for kids featuring **Professor Astro Cat**.

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