Art In The Open. The Night.

After what can only be described as a terrible summer, and with the threat of a hurricane bearing down on us, the weather gods smiled, and gave us the best day of summer. It was warm and sunny all day, and as night came it was a perfect evening to be out and enjoying art. We went down to Victoria Park and the sight was breathtaking. A field of bonfires, a tree of television monitors, projections, sound installations, a bunch of great sculpture, And a giant birds nest. What more can you ask for?

Art In The Open In Which a Parade of Crows Descends.

One of the highlights of Art In The Open was the parade of crows. Which was a beautiful moment when the Charlottetown crows returned to Victoria Park.

Art In The Open.

Jane and I were participants in Art In The Open, and though we were very busy at our project, I slipped away to see some of the other artists work. Here are a few random images from the goings on in Charlottetown yesterday.

Poetry from The Rumour Mill

Rumour Mill.

Rumour Mill.

What kind of poem does a human-powered machine for generating poetry create? This kind, apparently. Sixty-seven groups played 67 games of “Telephone” at our Rumour Mill art installation between 4 and midnight, and they transformed 67 sentences or images from PEI tourism advertising into this…

Poetry from The Rumour Mill
Created during Art in the Open
Rochford Square, Charlottetown, August 27, 2011

La comb le léah ma corde
When the sun goes down it tastes like vanilla and I like it
Museum in potato and rock ship
The southern peaches are cool in water, the northern ones have rocky stones
If the kids say to be by the beach, then it is really that simple
Far off the beaches of Nova Scotia where the serene beaches lay
Experience the blender, it’s all I remembers
Red sapphire cliffs Kelly’s Cross something I don’t know
When doves down, a carton of strawberries
A few days with a family of purple suns and a beach
The tourism board of Prince Edward Island states that visitors who don’t smoke pot are gloomy
A rascally heap of sand & scum & swamp that only produces potatoes!
Many summers burned and moved on
The Island offers beans to too many others, and beyond
Two Islanders grow old gradually in Canada
Snow shoes and sleigh rides but I have no clue past that
You don’t know what peace is until heavenly and forests
Treat yourself to a dance in a completely refurbished pig farm
Lively ceilidhs, beaches, and lighthouses
This is the brand where peach planes land
Mi’kmaq culture and zany Acadian creatures
Two lovely people biking down Confederation Trail
Eat a ham while juggling a rooster
The madness of mirth, the journey of the fantastical
Forever explore the ostrich filled beach on this donut
Old lady shopping for old man clothes
Walk a banana off the boardwalk
Remember your many experiences
Fire on trains
It’s the Island parliament of magic history
Anyone is his own unique world!
You’re not so scared after all
Here at the small province
Sour mayonnaise, money watches, pow wows
I have never seen a community more civilly incorrect
The beach is a great place for crass kids to do grass ‘cause that’s what the hot girl told me
Red beds are soft and covered in water
Walking past the Island craftshop…
It is a tourist ridden like in US or Canada
It’s good not to be connected to the mainland. It’s good to have our own lane.
Blurred lupines in the plowed red field
Preserving the Island and stories
Charlottetown is the flames of the Charlottetown harbor
The earth is so fast I can’t hear anything but a cricket
The unpredictable monkeys are heroes
Outdoor soup kitchen for PEI’s homeless
Un sentier, quais, enfants
Green farm
The light guides
Yummy in the tummy
Taking pictures
Un endroit sectaculaire en dunes
There is something about the island that makes it feel home
The Island is an angry bird
There is a family of four, a mother, a father, and two children. They all walk up the big sky and watcht he tourists
Upon the ocean you found your home
Every road leads the way to sunset along the church
A guy is coughing!
Green spaces enrich all our lives
You can hear magical sounds from magicians
Sand in my shoe memory
Mama teat
Number 4 stories
You ride bikers by the green house
Past the potato fields filled with potatoes
On shuttles oysters are shucked by gourmet oyster chefs
At the head of the confederacy at the top of the stands you will see a vista
Lorsque vous ressentez le besoin de tremper les pieds a l’eau, il y aura plusieurs plages qui vous accueillerons

The Rumour Mill

I haven’t done a lot of what you would call performance art, but my wife Jane Ledwell and I are putting together an interactive art piece for an evening and night-time art festival in our town on August 27. The event is called Art in the Open, and our piece is called The Rumour Mill. We hope people will be curious enough to take part. I have put up a new page with the news release about the event, and I will post news about how the project all goes here on the blog.

I’m building a Rauschenbergian kind of “machine” out of old pieces of wood to look something like this sketch:

Rumour Mill rough sketch

A rough sketch for "The Rumour Mill" machine

And here’s what the proposal we put together said about our project:

The Rumour Mill: A Human Machine for Generating Poetry

What art, or what good, can come from the PEI rumour mill, the transformative process by which information passes from ear to ear on PEI, being distorted or destroyed along the line? Through the everyday rumour mill, intentions and original messages become more fictive: through the art piece The Rumour Mill, tourism messages will become accidental poetry.

Jane Ledwell and Stephen B. MacInnis propose a collaboration for Art in the Open to create a gossip-powered human machine for generating poetry. This interactive, interdisciplinary art project will visually incorporate elements of an old-fashioned wooden machine, including a hopper, harnesses, and a hand-cranked reel. Source material for phrases and images that will run through this machine will come from historical and contemporary PEI tourism promotions. Thematically, the artwork will play with notions about the culturally claustrophobic role of word-of-mouth on a small island, the oral and the aural in poetry writing and performance, and the relationship of tourism and culture in representations of Prince Edward Island.

For each performance of the Rumour Mill, the artists will harness volunteer participants in a line in rope harnesses. At one end, a participant will pull a phrase or an image at random from a “hopper” pre-filled with phrases and generic images selected (by the artists) from Prince Edward Island historical and contemporary tourism promotions. The participant will whisper the phrase or a brief description of the image in the ear of the next participant down the line (as in the game of “Telephone”). As the phrase passes from person to person, it will be transformed by mishearings, misunderstandings, misrememberings – and by machinations of time, environment, and random events – to become a line of “poetry.” The artists will transcribe what the last person in the line says she or he hears on a scrolling sheet of brown paper, a roll of which will be spooled on a reel with a handcrank, so fresh paper can be exposed in time for the next line of poetry the human machine generates. The structure that houses the roll of paper will be built roughly with weathered, recycled materials to recall machinery in mills that were once common across PEI.

The Rumour Mill will operate at scheduled times every 60 minutes from 4:00 p.m. until midnight, although it can also operate any time there are six or more volunteers. At least two additional performance times will be reserved for the Rumour Mill to generate lines of poetry in French. Between performances, viewers will be able to read lines of poetry that have previously been generated. Each performance will add at least three lines to the poem. Due to the need for relative quiet, our preferred installation location is Rochford Square. Following Art in the Open, the poems and documentation generated by the Rumour Mill will be published on Stephen B. MacInnis’s blog at