George Rahi

Transient Repositories: Part I

February 2022 - June 2022


Vancouver, BC

George Rahi (b 1987) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish territories, Canada. He uses self-created and altered instruments as a method of exploring the intersections between acoustic and digital technologies, modes of listening, and spatial and architectural thinking. His work includes installations, composition, instrument making, solo & ensemble performance, and works for radio, theatre and public spaces.

He holds an MFA from Simon Fraser University and is the recipient of the 2018 R. Murray Schafer Soundscape award and awards from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Recent presentations have included Artificial Sonification (Matera), SPEKTRUM (Berlin), Kunst-Station Sankt Peter (Cologne), Fusebox Festival (Austin), Vancouver New Music, and Regenerative Feedback Festival (Rotterdam). He has been an artist in residence at EMS in Stockholm (2019), Locus Sonus Research Group in Marseille (2021), and Lobe Spatial Sound Studio (2022).

Artist statement

Drawing inspiration from the overlapping rhythms of urban life, this residency project explored the ways that buildings give shape to our surrounding soundscape and acoustic horizon. Research began in hcma’s Materials Library to examine the acoustic properties of various building materials such as metal, wood, stone, and composites.

Imagining the built environment as a quasi-instrument, kinetic percussion devices were then constructed to animate these materials through the creation of a sound installation. Attaching the percussion devices to the walls and surfaces of hcma’s building, rhythms were acoustically sounded from the materials themselves, exploring their variations in timbre, resonance, and spatial characteristics.

Power-generated morse code tapping machine made by George Rahl. Prototype pipe organ connected to hcma's HVAC system made by George Rahl. Two power-generated morse code tapping machines made by George Rahl.

Instrumentalizing the building’s interior space, the project also treated the air flowing through ductwork as an energy source for a speculative pipe organ. Drawing parallels between HVAC systems and pipe organs, air was channelled from the duct work to activate various organ pipes. This speculative organ recalls the idea of architecture as “frozen music”, as coined by Friedrich von Schelling, and enacts a perceptual window into architecture’s sonic dimensions. The project uses large-scale installation as a way to invite close listening to our surroundings and gestures towards possible ways of designing spaces that are more holistic in their engagement with multiple kinds of sensory perceptions.

Previous artists in residence