Craig Fahner
 

CV / Bio
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CV / Bio

 
 

 
 

Craig Fahner is an artist and musician from Calgary, Alberta. His electronic, video and sound-based works reimagine electronic systems, generating experiences that reflect on the role of technology in our culture. Fahner’s works have been exhibited in various venues internationally, including the 8-11 gallery in Toronto, the Museo de la Ciudad in Queretaro, Mexico, and the Device Art Triennial in Zagreb, Croatia. In 2010, he received the Disney Memorial Pausch Fellowship to pursue graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he received his MFA in 2013. He has been awarded project grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Fahner currently leads classes in Media Arts + Digital Technologies at the Alberta College of Art and Design and in the Art department at the University of Calgary.


CV

Pure Water Touching Clear Sky

Summer 2016
 

Networked installation
 

Pure Water Touching Clear Sky is a community garden interwoven with networked electronics.  A video feed of the garden is broadcast to twitch.tv, a live-streaming site geared towards competitive video gaming. Many channels on twitch.tv permit viewers to interact with games via a chat interface. In these “Twitch Plays” streams, upwards of hundreds of thousands of viewers can simultaneously control aspects of a game in order to collectively succeed. What emerges is a chaotic democracy, in which consensus emerges through a balance of opposing forces – of allies and saboteurs.

Twitch users viewing the garden’s live-stream are invited to interact with it via a chat interface, activating grow lights and a water distribution system that is fed from a gaming PC’s water-cooling system. The garden responds by chat, reporting its soil moisture and light levels. Within this system, the garden is subjected to a cybernetic ecology based on the allure of social media participation. Participants in this online system may communally support the garden, or drown and destroy it.

Basic Orbital Manoeuvres

Summer 2015
 

VR Installation
 

This piece is centred on the unreliable subject that is generated through processes of electronic reproduction. These virtual environments draw from the 2012 piece How to improve the world (you will only make things worse), further investigating what occurs when the sacred is transformed through electronic simulation. In this work, the virility and destructiveness of the eternal flame is disrupted by the super-clean and super-safe hyperreality of immaterial data. The flame becomes something else, exposed to the slippery transmutations that characterize the virtual. Fahner addresses these ideas through Basic Orbital Manoeuvres, an immersive virtualized field of objects that yields myriad manifestations of the eternal flame, unrestricted by – yet superimposed upon – the physical world.

Turangalila

Fall 2014

Live Projection

Presented in conjunction with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra's performance of Olivier Messiaen's Turangalila, and produced in collaboration with Kurtis Lesick, Mathew Lindenberg, Kelly-Ann Desouza and Kaylee Novakovski. A live projection mapped accompaniment, which translated the themes of Messiaen’s composition, articulating Messiaen’s own synaesthetic experience for the CPO audience.

Particle and Wave

Winter 2015

Performance

A series of performances using custom modified instruments aimed at generating music through transformations of objects, environments and gestures. Performed at the Particle and Wave festival in Calgary in 2015.

The first of these pieces is concerned with how processes and cultural rituals leave a metaphysical imprint upon objects. An array of harmonized voices is rendered, drawing upon the nostalgic fabric of popular music in order to effect an esoteric change upon a vessel of fermenting liquor.

The second piece in this series is performed on an instrument modified to translate the noise of the invisible electromagnetic spectrum into music. Inspired by the accidental sounds that are picked up in processes of amplification and recording, this performance reconstitutes this noise as a musical object of its own.

Unwonder

Winter 2014

Video / Text

A device for overcoming creative blocks.

An algorithm generates pairings of terms that begin with the prefixes un- and re-.

Coherer

Summer 2014

Sound Installation

Coherer is a spatialized sound installation that facilitates exploration of the aspects of our environment that exist only as invisible signal. This installation consists of modified theremins that render the exhibition space as a field of invisible electromagnetic activity. As participants enter this field of signal, their presence disrupts the electromagnetic environment, affecting the soundscape that surrounds them. Custom software mines data from local wireless networks, turning streams of live Internet activity into synthesized voices. These voices emerge and follow participants as they move through the space. In the absence of viewers, drifting wireless signals sound off as sparse cacophonous chatter amongst the piece’s drifting drone.

Borderland

Spring 2013

Sound Installation

In 1958 the FCC created the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13000 square mile area in the Allegheny Mountains. The mountains, rich in conductive anthracite coal, protect the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), from harmful radio interference. Additionally, radio, television, cellular and wireless transmissions are strictly regulated within this region. Within the town of Green Bank, WV –  where the NRAO is located – all means of wireless transmission are banned outright. As a result of this strict regulation of radio waves, Green Bank has seen a boost in population, as sufferers of a condition known as Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity have flocked to the town to seek refuge from pervasive wireless energy.

In Borderland, I have created instruments out of coal sourced from the mountains surrounding Green Bank. These instruments invite viewers to conjure the signals absorbed within the dark material. As viewers place their hands upon the coal vessels, they draw out voices sampled from the history of radio transmission, articulating the relationship between radio, death and the unknown.

How to improve the world (you will only make things worse)

Fall 2011

Video / Text

A radioactive wand is waved, an Olympic flame is beamed across the sky, and a coal mine burns forever beneath the Earth. A history of energy, from production, to infrastructure, to logistics, proceeds not merely through rational gestures, but through the stuff of magic, through thefts of fire.

In How to improve the world (you will only make things worse), Craig Fahner and Steve Gurysh draw from the genealogy of energy to reenact a magical circuit, transporting a flame across time and space. Referencing such events as the 1976 Montreal Olympic torch relay, this work remystifies technological process into Promethean ritual, highlighting the absurdities of the Modernist spectacle.

Produced in collaboration with Steve Gurysh

View Video  | View PDF

Feel Alright

Fall 2010 - Present

Recorded music

Pop songs recorded by very crude means in my studio in Pittsburgh, usually in the middle of the night.

En este disco primerizo se presentó algo que gusta mucho a personas preferentes hacia el garage pop: guitarras estridentes, baterías sólidas, pero una voz que se iguala a la potencia de todo el ajetreo de cuerdas, además de marcar la diferencia entre el azotar la cabeza o dejarla contonearse con cierta gracia mientras se baila. El noise se nos presenta como una perfecta fotografía con grano incluido; permitiendo distinguir objetos con facilidad pero sin quitarle el sentimiento de una buena toma análoga. Feel Alright es la clase de ruido que esperas escuchar cuando vas a una tocada al centro de la ciudad.

- Fernando Victoria

Listen online

Alternator

Winter 2011

Performance & Installation

This work is a performative distillation of energy. Using homemade devices that convert vibration into electrical current, I have stored various durational performative gestures into batteries. Each battery contains a different visceral procedure, as indicated by the labels on the batteries themselves.

The amount of electricity that these gestures create is relatively small. It is my hope, however, that these objects will in some way contain the spirit of the actions that produced them, and that the use of this energy will facilitate some transferrance of that spirit.

Attune

Fall 2010

Performance

Two performers press into an empty exhibition space, their vision compromised by enclosures made of fabric. Sound is generated from each performer's position in space, forcing them to interact entirely based on their sense of hearing. Over the course of three hours the performers will investigate these parameters, attempting to develop a relationship in movement within this system.

Produced in collaboration with Nina Sarnelle

Organ

Winter 2010

Sound Installation

This project uses a biofeedback technology called EEG, or electroencephalography. An EEG headset facilitates a direct relationship between the mind and the instrument. Notes on an electric organ are activated as the EEG monitors the participant's level of cognitive awareness. The generated tones increase in complexity as the participant's level of awareness drops.

Rather than enabling a hyperawareness of things, as many of our media do, this project allows an interaction with technology that encourages a transcendence of awareness to engage in a creative act - just as the pianist transcends the conventions of his instrument, allowing an energy to flow directly through his body and his instrument and into the air.

Catching a mouse in the dark

Summer 2009

Film

A filmtrack to a sound.

A trio of musicians were given three pairs of dissonant notes and the phrase 'Catching a mouse in the dark' as guidelines to record an improvised piece of music to serve as a soundtrack for an as-yet unmade film.

Upon the soundtrack's completion, I shot and edited together this film to correspond with the provided music.

Whorl

Winter 2010

Sound Installation

This project invites participants to interact with the resonant properties of matter. A vibrating plate visualizes resonant phenomena in salt. Users leave their fingerprints on the piece, generating visualizations based on touch.

Produced in collaboration with Neal Moignard.

Open Field

Summer 2009

Sound Installation

This installation is an investigation into the interactive potential of electromagnetic fields. Theremins - musical instruments played by placing one's body within the electric field surrounding an antenna - are used here to create a week long indeterminate sound recording.

Three theremins are placed in an equilateral triangle inscribed in a circular drum. The tones emitted by the theremins are determined by the presence of visitors in the space, changes in electromagnetic activity, and other environmental factors such as temperature. Without human interaction the tones of each instrument drift slowly, sympathetically. The three theremins, initially tuned to the same note, will configure themselves into various consonances and dissonances throughout the run of the exhibition.

The sounds created are visualized through a tom drum, whose skin is sealed to hold a small amount of water. A speaker is placed below the drum, and the wave patterns that are emitted through the speaker are visualized on the pool of water on top of the drum. The skin is tuned to resonate with certain frequencies, and at these points the skin vibrates the water forming circular shapes that expand and contract in relation to pitch.

Viewers are invited to interact with the sculpture, as their gestures will affect the soundscape and visualizations produced.

Produced in collaboration with Neal Moignard and Dr. Jean-Rene Leblanc at the Sensorium Lab at the University of Calgary

#garden

Summer 2009

Networked Installation

#garden is a piece that investigates the social media impulse. Several potted plants are set up in the exhibition space, rigged with electronic sensors and a water pump. Based on sensor data, the #garden will communicate its mood nightly via Twitter, a social media "microblogging" platform. Twitter users can give the #garden water by responding to its posts.

Over 50,000 Twitter messages are posted per hour. These messages may include political statements, eyewitness journalism, or mindless expressions of boredom — all on the same page. Cast-off thoughts of movie stars, and reminders from family members appear side by side. Twitter achieves this kind of democracy only by limiting its users: each post must be no longer than 140 characters. This limit of expression is the great equalizer.

#garden disrupts the limiting nature of social media by bringing it off of the screen. Interactions with the #garden, rather than being lost in a sea of fleeting transmissions, cause a physical response by contributing to a tangible community garden. Participants can communally support the garden, or via the impulsiveness of social media, drown and destroy it.

hrtdrm

Spring 2009

Interactive Installation

hrtdrm is another iteration of the Du Coeur project - now a participatory artwork. A finger-clip style heart rate sensor amplifies the participant's heart beat onto a bass drum. hrtdrm creates a simple relationship between object and interactor, entirely based on non-cognitive/physiological control.

A second version of this project makes use of a set of hand grip heart rate sensors. Two participants may interact with the piece at once, amplifying the syncopation between their two heart beats.

Du Coeur

Winter 2009

Performance

In this performance, the artist's mind is locked in a feedback loop with his body. The artist's intention is forced to interact directly with his physiology: he performs a song, whose rhythm is an amplification of his heart beat.

The performer relies on his own anxiety - his racing heart - to maintain a driving rhythm. As a measure to maintain a tension between his mind and his body, the performer improvises music and words, on the theme of a slowing heart.

Cmon

Winter 2009

Sound Manipulation

By forever postponing the song's proposition, the rock song's unfaltering masculinity is reduced to desperation. Its repeated plea leaves us yearning for the resolution, only to realize that it was never going to come in the first place.

 

Palimpsest Plaza

Fall 2008

Performance/Installation

Palimpsest Plaza is the assertion that the city is a map overwritten by its evolving social technologies. It is a project of two parts - one performative and one static - that aims to create a discourse between the pedestrian and his urban environment.

This discourse is initiated by the pedestrian. A response is transmitted by the city in the form of traffic signals. A binary message of red or green - stop or go - is left for the pedestrian's interpretation.

This piece interprets Guy Debord's Theory of the Dérive in a media-proliferated urban environment. I assert that a traversal of the history of social technologies is essential to the act of urban maneuvering.

Radio Play

Fall 2008

Interactive Object

This piece intervenes on the ordinary functioning of a radio. Gestures and movements summon transmissions - fragments arranged by the participant's engagement.

 

Pizza Beats

Summer 2008

Performance

Pizza Beats is an absurdist exercise in indeterminate music. A turntable has been modified to interpret the placement of pepperoni slices on pizza as drum rhythms.

Pizzas are ordered to the performance space from various shops around town. Music is improvised to accompany the pizza rhythms.

This performance seeks to illuminate and satirize the ways in which pop-culture signifiers mediate our consumption.

Sites

Winter 2012

Printed material

An atlas of the physical material that makes up the Internet.

“I like to imagine a human telecommunications. I imagine a fleet of marathon runners carrying encrypted numbers – stocks to trade, some pictures, maybe – from the Columbia River basin to the Financial District. I imagine thousands of oarsmen carrying a sweet nothing across the sea.”

Skin Loops

Fall 2007

Film Installation

Layering representations of sex upon themselves, Skin Loops situates sexuality within a media-proliferated gaze. The promiscuity of images obscures the projection, resulting in a representation that is predominantly mechanical.

Fusillade

Fall 2012

Sound installation

Lucille Ball, star of the 50s television sitcom I Love Lucy, once reported a peculiar turn of events related to a set of dental fillings she had received. “One night,” told Lucille, “I came into the Valley over Coldwater Canyon, and I heard music. I reached down to turn the radio off, and it wasn’t on. The music kept on getting louder and louder, and then I realized it was coming from my mouth. I even recognized the tune. My mouth was humming and thumping with the drumbeat, and I thought I was losing my mind.” Ball claimed that this was the result of the fillings acting as a radio transistor, resonating intercepted signals into her jaw.

This work makes use of highly directional ultrasonic speakers focused upon a tooth. As the viewer gets nearer to the tooth, they too receive a signal that exists only inside their own head.

Research & Collaborations

 
 

 
 

What I Will Always Be (2006-present)

As research assistant to Dr. Jean-René Leblanc, I contributed to the creation of an interactive screen that uses theremins to track gestures of participants.

Video documentation of this interface can be seen here.

Current research towards this project has lead to the development of an Arduino-compatible long-range capacitive sensor based on the theremin's design.





Timbervision AV Sampler (2009)

A collaboration with Ian Cameron and The National Parcs, the Timbervision AV sampler is a body-activated interface that controls audiovisual samples.

This project was exhibited at Toronto's Nuit Blanche festival in 2009. Video footage can be seen here.