In VOX, artist Steve Giasson displays 200 pages of transcribed text he recorded from overheard conversations occurring outside his apartment over the course of a year, from 25 July 25 2009 to 24 July 24 2010. The work was featured in the Palais des congrès in Montreal for the Festival “Art Souterrain in 2015, under the theme “Security in our Society: What Remains of our Personal Freedoms?” The work was exhibited again in Montreal at the 2-22 Building from 09 August to 09 October 2016. In the press release for the festival, the work is described as “the product of a drastic and performative surveillance by the artist of the environment he lives in and the voices that fill it. Graphically reproducing his collection into a sound wave, this text can be read as a portrait of its contemporaries while also being a self-portrait.” To be sure, this work is also a portrait of contemporary life, a historical moment that challenges social conceptions and expectations of private lives and public access. So too, Giasson’s VOX questions what aspects of a surveilled moment gets lost within its capture; the flat form of the spoken-to-written word offers no context, tones, colour, or character that comes with lived experience. As such, the piece also asks what is lost in the translation toward the surveillance form.

Client:Steve Giasson, VOX, 2015 and 2016. Mixed media. Variable dimensions. Photograph by Guy L'Heureux. Image courtesy of the artist. © Steve Giasson.
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