After many months working on the Solaris, germinating ideas in the dark of winter, the project is almost ready to spring up into the light. We’re excited to launch Cheryl Sim’s installation with the boards, YMX: Land, Migration, and Loss after Mirabel on April 1, 2017 from 3-5 PM at Galerie POPOP (Belgo Building – 372 rue Ste-Catherine O. Espace 442-444). The show will run until April 13.
Sim has been working on an installation that uses our two Solari boards as a starting place to talk about the multiple levels of human and other-than-human movement through Mirabel: those displaced from the land to build the airport and the thousands who arrived at Mirabel escaping war, disaster, or economic adversity. Upon entering the darkened gallery space, visitors will follow a labyrinth of airport belt stanchions. Along this winding path, the visitor will encounter a video montage of interviews and archival materials reflecting Mirabel’s many intertwining narratives. This lyric video work weaves together the voices of poet Pierre Nepveu, whose family were expropriés, the farmers displaced to build Mirabel, and producer Prem Sooriyakumar and novelist Kim Thuy, whose families both immigrated through the airport. At another stop on the path, visitors can stop and read from Lignes Aériennes, a collection of poems about the airport by Nepveu.
At the end of the path, in the corner of the room, Sim has drafted an abstract script that our two Solari boards (Gate 46 and Gate 48) will read to one another. Although the boards have limited alphanumeric options (each can only display total of 6 letters or numbers), the script Sim has drafted has an iconographic quality. Mark Demers has been working to connect the two boards so that they can be programmed by one script. This is really exciting, as it means the boards will be able to “speak” to one another rhythmically—through call and response, or changing in unison. They’ll be programmed through a single SD card which will hold the program and the script in a TextEdit file. It’s amazing to have both of the boards functioning now. Stay tuned for more logistical details—we’ll share those soon.
We’ve also been working with local metalworker Colin Burnett of ICON L to make our signs freestanding. Colin has welded each of the boards two steel legs to stand on. In Mirabel, the signs once hung from the ceiling of the airport on burly pipe-like arms. These arms weigh almost as much as the signs themselves—we’ve been working out our own burly arms moving them around the Solari Lab! Each unit is very heavy, so we wanted a system that would allow them to be moved more easily from space to space. The new legs fit up inside the existing pipe, fitted with a bolt that acts like a pin to keep the legs from swivelling. The feet are 3 ft each, so they fit neatly through the door and so we can still squeeze them into the elevator. Each foot is equipped with two swivelling caster wheels, so they can roll easily and then be locked into place when they’ve been appropriately positioned. Matt mentioned in the summer that when the units got legs, they were going to remind him of Huey, Dewey, and Louie—the three service robots from the 1972 post-environmental-apocalypse sci-fi film Silent Running. And they do, don’t they? They’re almost-identical twins—similar, but each with their own personalities and quirks. These particularities will no doubt play into their performances in the installation in April.