“The Futile Knocking of My Heart” is a collaborative sound project by Sasha Opeiko and Martin Stevens, with contributions from guest artists: David Bergeron, Andrew Bradt, Paul David, Les Godfrey, honjok, Chris McNamara, Andrea Slavik.
The project was created for the “Speculative Figures and Speculative Futures: Our Uncanny Postapocalypse” session at The 52nd Annual Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association, March 10 -14, 2021.
Episodes consist of sampled and modified sounds of the deathwatch beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum), acquired from open-source digital audio archives. The deathwatch beetle is a woodboring insect which occupies old buildings, tunneling into the structural timbers. The beetles knock their heads against their tunnel walls with a heart-like rhythm as a way of attracting mates, producing a sound that resonates through the structure of the dwelling. Archaic superstition holds that the deathwatch beetle is a harbinger of death for the dying, likened to a clicking of the reaper’s skeletal fingers. Therefore, the deathwatch beetle is named for the vigil (watch) being kept beside the dying or dead. By extension, this knocking is an omen of impending death. Contemporarily the superstition is no longer applicable, however the species is still a signal of entropic disintegration for historical structures such as heritage homes, libraries, museums and churches. The proliferation of parasitic life forms is incrementally self-destructive in that the beetle devastates the host’s habitat or dwelling, as well as its own. Coexistence with the deathwatch beetle can be likened to an uncanny 24-hour immersive sound installation designed and carried out by parasites.The podcast speculatively comments on the amplification of mortality, acting as a countdown, measurement or index of temporal and corporeal uncertainty.
“The Futile Knocking of My Heart” offers merchandise (printed t-shirts can be purchased at https://opeikostevens.bigcartel.com/ ) the profits of which go to Renovate Hillview – the only GoFundMe project requiring assistance with the eradication of the deathwatch beetle.
“The Futile Knocking of My Heart” will be curating submissions for future episodes on an ongoing basis; contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to apply.
Today my collaborator Martin Stevens and I are releasing our new short film Extraordinary Measures, featuring an original soundtrack by honjok.
While the film is accessible on all smartphone and tablet devices, it is optimized for full-screen laptop or monitor.
It is recommended to view the film with high quality speakers or headphones.
Extraordinary Measures is a collaborative short film that conceptually responds to the Covid-19 physical distancing protocols, as well as the domestic experience of isolation during this time. How is our perception of the domestic space altered by the anxiety and fears associated with the invisible presence of a pandemic outside the safety of home? Our sense of scale and time, relative to the outside, is transformed. Malaise and purposelessness turn to inquisitive attentiveness and re-evaluation of overly familiar objects. Using the artists’ own home and various objects and furniture at hand, the film consists of staged scenes where two objects are separated by a two-meter yellow measuring stick.
The film partly recalls ‘memento mori’ still life, but at the same time is a lighthearted experiment of applying physical distancing rules to commonplace objects. Are things potential carriers of the virus? What is a safe distance and what is the true measure of a safe distance?
Supported by the City of Windsor’s Arts, Culture & Heritage Fund (ACHF)
Recently I had the good fortune to participate in the BAiR Late Winter residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity to finalize a project I’ve been working on, funded by the Ontario Arts Council. For documentation of what I worked on there, you can go here.
I was also working on components for an installation I was hoping to include in an exhibition at Common Ground, but unfortunately the show was cancelled due to Covid-19. I hope to have the chance to show the installation piece elsewhere in the future when this pandemic is in the past, since it occupied several months of my life and it would be a shame to keep it in the darkness of storage.
In the meantime, here are some studio shots of the installation’s components in progress. I was working on replicating Soviet-era objects, mostly using oil paint on wood, or masking off half of the object and painting directly on the other half.
I am pleased to announce that my body of work 217, including Studies of Irradiated Robots will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of Peterborough January 18 – March 29, 2020. More details can be found here.
Recently I had opportunity to exhibit my series of drawings, 217 (Elephant’s Foot), at Thames Art Gallery’s Juried Exhibition in Chatham (Nov 10, 2017 – Jan 7, 2018).
I am also pleased to share that a selection of these pieces will travel to Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, OH for DRAWN: 5th Annual International Exhibition of Contemporary Drawing (Apr 20 – May 18, 2018).
November 5 – 15, 2016
Reception: 2 – 6 pm Saturday, November 12, 2016
Common Ground Art Gallery
3277 Sandwich St. W., Windsor, ON
The camera obscura is an early optical system that has been used historically to assist artists in composition and rendering. This collaborative installation by Sasha Opeiko and Martin Stevens is a rendition of the optics of the camera obscura, but using multiple points of view. The installation uses four apertures instead of the traditional one. The apertures select what is then reflected in the everted space. It can be interpreted as an ontological fold (following the thought of philosopher Gilles Deleuze) as well as a physical space within a space. The rotating object in the middle of the dark space bends and folds the regular orientation of the viewer’s perception as it creases and distorts the real imagery. The installation is a site and light specific response to the gallery’s architecture.
This exhibition at Common Ground Art Gallery serves as a research pilot project for other versions of the installation. It is meant to evolve into a more cohesive architectural structure with an improved optical system.
Special thanks to Alex McKay for photo documentation.
My new body of work “Elephant’s Foot” consists of graphite drawings based on found images of a large, lethally radioactive glob of melted matter inside the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant that formed following the nuclear meltdown in 1986. Because this object is extremely radioactive, it was only perceivable through images captured with a remotely controlled camera and through very restricted, timed visits to the premises. While the project carries ecological and political implications of a major catastrophe, it is also a personal reconciliation with my childhood in Belarus, where the cultural and emotional consequences of the disaster were always present but never fully revealed as a physical or perceivable object.
The drawings investigate how the materiality of graphite interacts with the restrictions of flat image representation on a plane. The dark but reflective quality of graphite also refers to the inaccessiblity of ‘dark’ abstracted space. This interest holds further research possibilities for me in the medium of 3D rendering. I am currently getting acquainted with 3D software in order to investigate how the 2D source images of the steam corridor where the Elephant’s Foot is located, and the object itself, can be translated or reconstructed into a 3D mesh/skin, and how the incomplete and dark characteristics of those images will translate into abstraction.
For those who may wish to view the “Elephant’s Foot” project in progress at A.I.R. Studio Paducah, I will be hosting an open studio on February 20, 2016, 12-4 pm (or by appointment). I am in Paducah (the “Atomic City”) until February 27, at which point I’ll be traveling to the Banff Centre in Alberta for the month of March to continue my work and research on the “Elephant’s Foot”.
“Super-Stratum (Stone)” at “Duplicate”, Deluge Contemporary Art (Victoria BC), 2015.
“Super-Stratum (Wood)” at “Duplicate”, Deluge Contemporary Art (Victoria BC), 2015.
“Duplicate” at Deluge Contemporary Art (Victoria BC), 2015.
Poster for “Duplicate” at Deluge Contemporary Art (Victoria BC), 2015.
Here are some images from Duplicate at Deluge Contemporary Art (Victoria BC), which ran April 10 – May 16, 2015 and featured some of my works from the Super-Stratum and Hyperobject series. Many thanks for the Ontario Arts Council’s support with this exhibition.