Instant Places: Biography

Laura Kavanaugh and Ian Birse create intermedia artworks on location using software instruments they design. In their practise they combine independent activity that is local and micro-scale with internet collaboration and broadcast events.

From 1997 to 2002 Kavanaugh and Birse traveled throughout Canada and Europe, making installation and performance works for festival venues and art galleries. In 2003 they began Instant Places, a series of location-specific works which have been presented in Canada, Australia, Japan, the United States, and Argentina/Uruguay.

Major festival projects and commissions include: Europe (Krakow Audio Art 2001, LEM Barcelona 2002, Backupfest Weimar 2002), Australia (Biennale of Electronic Art Perth 2004) and Canada (Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville 2003, Images Toronto 2004, Vancouver New Music 2003, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony 2006, City of Kitchener 2008, Vancouver Cultural Olympiad 2010).

During the fall and winter of 2006/2007 Laura and Ian crossed Canada with a media artlab called Removable Room, arriving at the west coast in February to make The Fortress of History for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and OPERATOR, a noise opera at the Western Front. In September and October 2007 they were based in Ontario for public projection projects at the LOLA festival in London and the Guild Inn, Scarborough.

From a base in Tokyo they spent February—April 2008 presenting performance/installations at centres across Japan, and travelled to Chicago in May to make MOVIE PALACE, a series of intermedia works centred on the historic Congress Theatre building. In September 2008 they presented a public projection project in Toronto called CITIZEN, video transfigurations of snapshot portraits of residents, and premiered a performance for 12 speaker sound array and live video called HEAD! SMASHED! IN! BUFFALO! JUMP! at SoundPlay 2008. October 2009 saw the realization of Bright Moments, a generative public projection work commissioned by the City of Kitchener.

In 2009 the Instant Places team spent five months realizing residency projects in New York and Argentina/Uruguay, returning to Canada to create an art commission for the 2010 Olympics: an image-gathering odyssey via surface public transport from Makkovik Labrador to Vancouver that resulted in a generative video work they presented during the CODE Live exhibition at the 2010 Games.

A review of our generative video commission for the Art Gallery of Peterborough in September 2010 described the installation as “fine variations on the abstraction and reconstruction of the representational”, a phrase that evokes the polar flux of our aesthetic investigations: blending the physical and virtual, aligning indeterminacy and intention, reading between the lines of document and fiction.

Akimbo review (Gil McElroy)