BY IAN SHANTZ | SEPTEMBER 2022
The genesis of an audiovisual art installation being showcased in Waterloo this month can be traced some 6,500 kilometres from the city.
Guelph-raised artist Monika Hauck is currently studying in Helsinki, Finland, where she is working towards completing her master’s degree in new media with a major in design and production.
For Hauck, the Nordic country’s proximity to Russia has meant she has witnessed nearby military activity in recent months and has served as a point of contact for relatives and friends as they seek information and ways to help loved ones in Europe affected by the war in Ukraine.
“The imagery that I’m going to be using and the experience that we’re hoping to deliver is this kind of meditation of mixed messages and how it’s so difficult to untangle the messages and feelings when you’re in one place or receiving information from somewhere else – and how detached we can become from something so serious and so close by,” Hauck said. “It’s kind of a meditation on some of my personal experiences.”
The installation, called ‘Techno Bunker,’ is a two-artist effort. Visual artist Hauck and musician and fellow Guelph native Alex Ricci have been collaborating since 2015 under the name VERSA, creating interactive installations and immersive performances with vivid colour and audio.
VERSA’s latest installation will be among more than 30 showcased during Lumen 2022. The free festival takes over Uptown Waterloo on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
What exactly is Techno Bunker? The complex project that explores the duality between rave and war is likely best explained by its 32-year-old creators.
“Techno Bunker is a rave in a parking garage under Waterloo City Centre. People can expect techno music, cinematic soundscapes, along with immersive lighting and projections, which we designed from samples of recent footage of wars,” Ricci explained. “The reason we’re calling it a bunker is because we want to elicit this idea of a place to seek shelter, a place to hide out, a place of safety, but also a place that typically people think of in the place of war or danger. Raves are typically a place where people think of losing themselves for the night. In this case, we don’t necessarily want to create a place for people to lose themselves, but more a place for people to find themselves and find their own relation to this idea of living in an environment that they’re totally not used to. We want to create a setting for reflection, to allow people to explore their own empathy for people living in a war environment.”
Chalk will be available within the installation prompting participants to “leave behind a trace of their time spent in the bunker.”
While the subject of war is a heavy one, the artists assure their installation is not intended to be disturbing. Rather, it’s meant to be more of a thought-provoking dreamscape.
“Our hope is that people can feel at ease enough to be reflective and to just think about their own relationship with the war that may be happening right now in Ukraine or their own relationship with their ancestors having to flee from war,” said Ricci, who recently completed his master’s studies in music production and technology at the Berklee College of Music’s Valencia campus in Spain. “It’s supposed to be a safe place for reflection.”
Lumen is entering its fifth year and will return to its intended form after two years of pandemic-related scale-backs including the fully virtual Lumen at Home in 2020, and last year’s contactless Lumen Lite.
The annual all-ages festival is open to the public and run by the City of Waterloo’s Arts and Culture team (Create Waterloo). It features the work of artists and the interplay of light, art, and technology in installations located throughout Uptown Waterloo.
“Lumen is hosted in unexpected places throughout Uptown Waterloo,” said Sonya Poweska, culture program specialist for the City of Waterloo. “By giving artists the freedom to take over municipal spaces, with the intention of creating something with the public’s participation, audiences are able to play a role in creating an ephemeral experience while making their mark on the city in unexpected ways.”
Lumen offers “something for everyone,” Poweska added, and promises to be “an epic party where (visitors) can explore and discover Uptown Waterloo like never before.”
In addition to the one-day festival, several touring installations will be in place before and after the event, including ‘Musical Swings’ by Montreal-based Daily tous les jours, the ‘Anglerfish’ sculpture by Ryan Longo, and a partnership with the Embassy of Austria and app developer Artivive.
For more information on Lumen, visit lumenfestival.ca. For more information on VERSA, or the duo’s music collaboration, Static Channel, find them at linktr.ee/staticchannel, or on Instagram at instagram.com/steddyhands and instagram.com/monautomaton.
Ian Shantz is an award-winning, seasoned writer and editor based in Waterloo Region. Throughout his career in journalism spanning nearly 20 years, Ian has specialized in various storytelling, including sports, travel and breaking news reporting. He works at The Toronto Sun. Raised in the townships of Wellesley and Woolwich, Ian is forever in pursuit of a quality cup of coffee, a top-secret swimming hole, and a favourite new band.