Siphonophora, 2019

Created for Vector Festival 2019, Siphonophora is a multimedia assemblage of refuse materials that writhes and moves as though part of a single collective body, similarly to the colony of the marine animals referenced in the work's title. Heaps of garbage and grocery bags become animated with movement and light in the manner of the twinkling bioluminescence of hydrozoans. The rubbish undulates and inflates, morphing between forms of detritus, and marine species, offering a looming self-portrait of our habitual consumption and the ecology that is impacted by it.

A Siphonophore is a colony of individual marine organisms, called zooids, that join together in a formation so large in scale that it can supersede the length of whales. Some siphonophores emit light through bioluminescence, undulating and blinking a red and blue twinkling pattern, and may have stinging tips. Siphonophora references the organic structures of siphonophores and pyrosomes (which are also formed by zooids to resemble a long plastic tube), and the plastic island that floats in the ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Both phenomena are culminations of small bodies that when bound together create an imposing oceanic mass. The performance concluded as a zooid (performed by Edie McGovern) emerged from the inflated structure and walked amongst the audience.

The performance of Siphonophora was 8 minutes in duration at Small World Music Centre at Toronto Artscape’s Youngplace facility on July 12th, 2019. The event, FUTURE PERFECT, featured Jenn E Norton (Siphonophora), Tasman Richardson (Darkness is to space as silence is to sound) and Raquel Meyers (Keys of Fury), curated by Katie Micak and Martin Zeilinger.

Documentation: Still images by Yuula Benivolski, Video shot by Katie Micak and Scott McGovern, video documentation edited and compiled by Jenn E Norton