Mini Curations

For our 30th Anniversary Season (2021-2022) GroundSwell commissioned 6 music video shorts for our online Linked series.  

Park Sounds is Jennifer Thiessen and Ben Reimer. Having recently returned to their home province of Manitoba from Montreal, the duo continues to explore their roots through new music. For GroundSwell’s Linked series, Park Sounds has co-composed and recorded a 15-minute new work for drum kit, viola and field recordings, accompanied by video. Thunderous beats and processed viola loops interact with the sounds of Jennifer’s father’s clock repair shop in an ambient exploration of time.

For Groundswell’s 30th anniversary season, Prairie Wires is excited to present excerpts from the most recent Prairie Wires Modular Festival which took place on Saturday, September 12, 2021. Featuring performances by Forestine (Winnipeg), Ernie Dulanowski (Regina), Shotgun Jimmie with Leanne Zacharias and Casey Koyczan (Brandon, Yellowknife) and Matthew Cardinal with Stephanie Kuse (Edmonton, Saskatoon), the Riverbank Discovery Centre Amphitheatre came to life with a dazzling show of sound and light.

Fear Of Weather, 2022 is a Manitoban response to the 1982 film, Koyaanisqatsi, which the artists watched for the first time in a rural farmhouse near Riding Mountain National Park in late fall of 2021. At the time, the COP26 global climate summit was debating how the human race ought to proceed, given the destructive rate of climate change, while the COVID-19 pandemic continued to drag on throughout the world. Manitoba’s unique geographic placement and cultural inheritance sometimes feels invisible or unimportant to its residents. Fear Of Weather is an abstract video landscape of urban and rural Manitoba in this present time of great upheaval, pointing at just how unlike the rest of the world this place really is, and how living here, in the winter especially, is considered by some to be a sacred experience, and by others to be completely mundane and undesirable.
Filmed by Eric Roberts
Edited by Eric Roberts and Natalie Bohrn
Original Score by Eric Roberts and Natalie Bohrn (Slow Spirit)
Sound Design by Natalie Bohrn

Vivat Virtute is Christine Fellows and JS Fellows, partners and cultural workers from Winnipeg. For this GroundSwell commission they created an audiovisual piece called Unit 6, inspired by their shared experience navigating local mental health services as patient and advocate. The text for this piece is J’s radical translation of the lord’s prayer, repeated while walking the halls of a psychiatric ward during the covid-19 pandemic lockdown; the music was made by J on electric guitar and ebow, incorporating Christine’s manipulated hospital field recordings. Christine created the stop-motion video in response to the audio piece, employing paper, mirrors and light.

XV-5080, an original composition by Jason Tait, is inspired by discarded technology and foregrounds the practice of collecting by situating salvaged instruments with convoluted histories within new, recontextualized musical contexts. Named after a discarded MIDI-driven instrument which helped spawn House music in the early 1990’s, this piece features the unique instrument collection of Jason Tait, amassed after years spent scouring vintage stores and pawn shops. While not in the House genre, the piece shares the concept of additive layering seen in House and other electronic music by building upon fundamental drum machine and bass lines drawn from the XV-5080. The single-take performance features musicians Jacob Brodovsky, Liam Duncan, Brett Ticzon and Tait.

Doomsurfer – Luis Ramirez

The terms “doomsurfer” and “doomscrolling” emerged as a way to describe the behavior of nonstop consumption of bad news that a lot of people adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic. This behavioral addiction stemmed from the isolation and general gloom that people have experienced in the last couple of years. The already damaging behavior is exacerbated by the designs and interface of the various online platforms. The attention economy drives companies to employ hundreds of people whose job is to keep the user hooked and take advantage of their psychological vulnerabilities for their profit. Addictions develop with the idea that the behavior is protecting us from psychological distress. Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, etc., can all trigger behavioral addictions for us to mitigate our problems and troubles. All procrastination is just like an addiction – you start doing it because you want to have fun, but you continue because you don’t want to feel unhappy. Loneliness is the biggest culprit for addiction, and while it is really difficult to escape the doomsurfing temptation when we have our own internal problems, it is even more so with the amount of external tumult and uncertainty in our current world. The struggle begins with our surroundings. The gravitational pull of my phone is much stronger if I wake up next to it, and this accessibility inevitably leads to the rest of my day being mostly unproductive. The morning is typically my best time for ideas and productivity, and the limited bandwidth of our brain can be quickly cluttered if I dive into internet rabbit holes too early on. Once the phone takes over it is really hard to escape, and it feels like a battle for my attention between a productive day and the Internet’s infinite content. I have found that delaying the first interaction with my device by even just half an hour results in me having a much more productive and fulfilling day. Going for a walk, getting direct sunlight in my eyes, drinking lots of water… It is small steps like these that can lead to building good habits and a general improvement in your life. I wanted to represent this struggle with my music and share what I have learned with the hope that it can benefit someone in similar circumstances.

Luis Ramirez