Night is falling in the forest. Spear tips of lodgepole pine and poplar trees pierce the cobalt blue sky as the first stars of the evening wink overhead. The muffled drumbeat of a First Nations song drifts on the crisp fall air, reminding us that we are guests on Treaty 7 Territory, the land of the Stoney Nakoda, Blackfoot, and Tsuut’ina Nations. We can barely see our hands in front of us as we gather in small groups and await instructions.
We are about to enter Illuminations: human/nature, an interactive installation by the artist Sarah Fuller, and Montreal’s internationally recognized multimedia studio Moment Factory. Commissioned by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, this free event celebrates Canada’s 150th+ anniversary. Performances will take place in Canada’s oldest national park in Banff, Alberta and 3,600 kilometres away in the country’s newest national park, Rouge Urban National Park in Toronto, Ontario.
“My job on this project was to become more educated and respectful of the history and voices of these two sites,” says Fuller, “from their geological origins, through human involvement with the wilderness to the concept of stewardship going forward.” Months of research on everything from Alberta’s Burgess Shale fossils to the effect of lichen on air quality in Rouge National Urban Park has been condensed into several intensely satisfying artistic experiences.
“Darkness allows for the animation of the space, making it more immersive and creating a suspension of disbelief,” Fuller explains. It also allows Moment Factory to contribute their own unique blend of art and technology. Their original soundscapes, dazzling lighting, and innovative projections bring the vignettes of the narrative to life. They also crafted the tools that each group is given at the start of their journey through the installation.
With a human presence that dates back over 10,000 years, tiny Rouge Urban National Park is a unique ecological zone of Carolinian forest, beaches, and marshes within the Greater Toronto area. Immersive and compelling, Illuminations: human/nature will shine over the park as briefly as a falling star. Catch it if you can.
To register for free tickets, visit Banff Centre.ca/illuminations.
Illuminations: human/nature in Rouge National Urban Park is scheduled for October 19-21, 2017 (subject to change).
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