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Wednesday, March 27


Jenn E Norton is a magician of sorts.  A conjurer,  illusionist, enchantress, Norton spins the familiar into phenomena by breaching the boundaries of real, imagined, and intuitive states with her visual arts practice. 

A technological wonder, she utilizes the digital realm as an emotive translator; her body of work offers a rich landscape of woven narratives inviting us to transition with ease between player and voyeur.   Through the languages of video, audio, installation, kinetic sculpture, and performance she communicates a dialogue that oscillates between comfort, discomfort, utopian and dystopian with a clairvoyance and critical engagement that has become her signature style. 

The days grow longer and approaching spring is a whirlwind tour of Norton’s talent; March 8th marked the formal release of five original compositions written and performed by Norton under the name The While on Cassettestival,  a tape label and event series based in Guelph.   The While is a musical ‘art-band’ collective combining video, performance, installation and melody initiated by Jenn last year and is quickly gaining momentum in the music circuit.  The concept band creates an ethereal experience of visual and audio landscapes that cross, stretch and distort the template fabrics of concert-based performance; siren saws, violin, glockenspiel, accordion and percussion combine with layers of textured pre-recorded tracks, live vocal harmony and digital projections constructing a sight and sound experience that hauntingly hover in that special place that is simultaneously uplifting and melancholic.  Catch Norton perform with The While on April 5th at the Green Party Office (34 Gordon St.) in Guelph; the performance is presented with Kazoo! Fest 2013.  A few weeks later she takes the stage solo as part of a music residency hosted by the River Run Centre, Guelph, April 19th.    

In light of new audio pursuits in conjunction to her established new media arts career, it seemed a natural fit for Norton to receive a commissioned project of the highest caliber.   Over the past winter months as the snow settled in,  she has been toiling away by the glow of a Mac in lieu of a fire creating a time based illustration of media artist, composer and sound artist Gordan Monahan.   The founder of the Electric Eclectics sound art festival was announced as the recent recipient of the 2013 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts; Norton was chosen to create a video portrait of Monahan offering a glimpse into his career, achievements and creative pursuits leading up to this prestigious award.   

As spring continues on, and if you find yourself in the UK, don’t miss the chance to view Norton’s piece Wee Requiem currently touring England as part of ISIS project the Big M, an inflatable mobile gallery currently hosting On the Precipice, an exhibition curated by Kelly Richardson.    The single channel video offers a grand alternate ending to an inconsequential existence;  grave faces don their best and gather round a tiny departed nuisance, solemn mourners and mouse reciprocate dignity in death.  Wee Requiem finds us witness to a fallen vexation achieving new celebrity with it’s quiet exit. 

Ever prolific, Norton approaches life with the same curious gusto she funnels into her practice. To know this woman is to know a restless dream where snowy arctic mountains melt to southern deserts,  stilts make way for country air balloons and ginger haired munchkins play tambourines in the rising sun.

True story. 

-Guest contributor Christy Langer
Photo by Langer, Norton and Yasui with help from A. Mucha

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