South stairwell sound installation
Debashis Sinha’s site-specific sound installation combines speculative mythology with processes that are derived from a blending of machine learning, sonic art, and audio composition.
Through Sinha’s collaboration with artificial “intelligence” readings and systems, his sound installation in the house’s endeepened wide gracious flow redefines the already repurposed Tower Automotive Building as a place of contemplation and spiritual imagining, presenting possibilities of introspection revealed to the listener. The title was generated from training a recombinant neural network on the foundational Hindu text Rig Veda.
Specifically for this piece, Sinha trained and then directed machine learning models to reproduce various devotional field recordings collected by himself in Kolkata, India and then transposed into the Canadian diaspora through sound. The result is an aural environment created by generated AI outputs, which hint at hidden meaning in the data, only revealed individually, in the moment, in situ, through our experience listening to the work within this particular setting.
The voice artist featured in the audio piece is Suba Sankaran. Sankaran is a Toronto based vocalist who has performed internationally. She is an accomplished Carnatic (South Indian Classical) vocalist and also leads the Indo-Fusion jazz ensemble Autorickshaw.
As an extension of this sound commission, MOCA has invited Sinha to produce two new videos for his ongoing Saṅkhyā Stories: Machine Learning Fables series. The first of these commissions, Saṅkhyā Stories II: Yama observes, considers and turns away, there is no death here, 2022, is available to view below:
Sinha has appeared as a solo artist at the Sound Symposium, ORF Kunstradio, Deutschlandradio Kultur, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Madrid Abierto, MUTEK, the Guelph Jazz Festival, Radio National Espana, and the International Symposium on Electronic Art, to name a few. His unique take on the place of sound in storytelling has resulted in a long artistic relationship with choreographer Peggy Baker and many collaborations with prominent theatre companies including Soulpepper, Why Not Theatre, The Stratford Festival, and others. He is a committed educator, teaching sound at all levels and is currently assistant professor at X University in Toronto.
The South Stairwell Sound Series at MOCA gives artists the opportunity to produce a site-specific sound-art composition that is contained within a unique industrial environment.