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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Contact festival finale: Patent Pending leaves us in satisfying shadows of doubt

By John Terauds on May 31, 2013

The first of three performances of Patent Pending by Karen Ostrom and Spectrum Music at the 918 Bathurst Arts Centre on Friday evening (John Terauds ipHone photo).
The first of three performances of Patent Pending by Karen Ostrom and Spectrum Music at the 918 Bathurst Arts Centre on Friday evening (John Terauds phone photo).

Spectrum Music collaborated with visual artist Karen Ostrom to present a mix of words, music and animation to close this year’s Contact Photography Festival in enigmatic style at the 918 Bathurst Arts Centre on Friday evening.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

If you’re reading this early enough, there are two showing remaining tonight — at 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.

I have no idea what the show, titled Patent Pending, meant, but it was clear that all of the elements melded beautifully to make for a 30-minute experience of visuals and music that amounted to more than the sum of their parts.

Perhaps it was a meditation on the repetitiveness of daily life, mixed with the similarities and differences of two people in a relationship. But all of the characters shown on three large video screens were variations on Ostrom herself.

Was she commenting on how we project our own opinions and emotions onto those around us?

It felt like a relief when I decided I didn’t have to answer that question, or any others. Instead, I let the images progress before my eyes.

Perhaps the moment of final revelation will come later, in a dream, or in a wakeful moment at 5 a.m.

The soundtrack for these videos was a collection of six pieces, three of which repeated at the end, by composers Ben Dietschi, Shannon Graham and Caitlin Smith.

These minimalist-style compositions, each distinctive yet strangely the same — much like the videos we were seeing — were nicely performed by violinist Véronique Mathieu, trumpeter Lina Allemano, pianist Stephanie Chua and double bassist Jesse Dietschi.

The most beautiful moment for me was hearing aleatoric trumpet sounds from Allemano, as her fingers expertly recreated the clickety-clack of an old sewing machine on her instrument’s valves — meshing perfectly with a video of someone sewing.

Ostrom also provided a poem to go with the show — printed in the programme, and presented in installments on the video.

The opening lines should have given me a clue that it was time to shift brain into neutral, and enjoy the unfolding to come:

This is not a Love Story
It’s the being of two minds
where the factories hum
in a relative calm
Where action meets inaction …

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
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