Aria, video, 2009, 11’10
A collaboration with Tom and Sugi

Aria shows the artist’s companion dogs, Sugi and Tom, exploring the natural world; a journey through an archetypal Canadian landscape culminating with Tom’s emotional vocalizations as an “aria.” The recognition of animals’ own agency of being is the key in Aria which seeks to represent the dogs’ emotional connection to the natural world.

Aria, the operatic form, is defined as a long accompanied song by a solo voice, with origins in 18th century Italian music. The form of the aria and the imagery and harmonic structure in Aria recall historical romanticism in art which emphasized personal inspiration and subjectivity Aria uses the musical structure of “call and response” to depict a dialogue between Tom and the landscape.

Collaborative methods were used to determine the narrative structure. During the process of filming Aria, Tom sang a sequence of three musical phrases which were then used as the basis for the sound composition in Aria. All harmonics and ambient landscape sounds in Aria – birds, insects, wind – are constructed from these recordings of his voice. Therefore, Tom’s voice, and both dogs’ activities in the landscape, were the basis for constructing the story in Aria.

Shown at:

  • 2013 “our animal others”, Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film, Durham, Ontario
  • 2012, “performance, platform. body affects”,  Sophiensaele, Berlin
  • 2012 “Facing the Animal”, OR Gallery, Vancouver. Curated by Tarah Hogue.
  • 2009 “Animal House: Works of Art Made by Animals”, Saw Gallery, Ottawa
  • 2009 Computational Aesthetics Conference 2009, Victoria, Canada


Production Team:
Video/sound recording: at Banff New Media Institute
Editing and soundscape: Julie Andreyev
Compositing: Brian Charles
Canine collaborators: Tom and Sugi

Supported by: a coproduction residency at Banff New Media Institute, The Banff Centre, Banff, Canada; Intersections Digital Studios, Emily Carr University of Art + Design