THE DEW PROJECT
in association with the ODD Gallery, Dawson City, Yukon Territory.
April 1 - Late April (climate permitting)
“A border is not a connection but an interval of resonance, and such gaps abound in the Land of the DEW Line. The DEW Line itself, the Distant Early Warning radar system installed by the United States in the Canadian North to keep this continent in touch with Russia, points up a major Canadian role in the twentieth century, the role of hidden ground for big powers. Since the United States has become a world environment, Canada has become the anti-environment that renders the United States more acceptable and intelligible to many small countries of the world; anti-environments are indispensable for making an environment understandable.”
The Geodesic Radome is the ultimate metaphor symbolising the shift in modern warfare in the second half of the 20th century: an architecture that distributes its structural tension/compression through a network similar to the communication network it shelters. Paul Virilio argued in 1975 “the [cement] bunker is the last theatrical gesture in the endgame of Occidental military history”; and it could be argued the geodesic dome is one of the first known architectures to introduce an international theatre of communication and networked warfare. With the onset of the Cold War, reality shifted into game theory where communication of ideologies between players became as much propaganda as defense asset—such as the strategy of M.A.D (Mutually Assured Destruction). In order for these strategies to be implemented new infrastructures were built such as the high arctic DEW Line (Distant Early Warning). A joint venture between the US Air Force and the Royal Canadian Airforce, the DEW Line was a network of remote radar and communication stations extending from Alaska, across Canada, to Denmark's Greenland. Always on alert for Russian bombers flying over the icecap to deliver nuclear warheads, the stations required new technological developments in radar, automatic signal detection and the Buckminister Fuller rigid radome. Today these same countries (Canada, Russia, US, and Denmark) are again turning their attention towards the North driven this time by what could be called the “Warm War.” The Cold War might have been a successful negotiation over the frozen landscape of the Arctic but will the current battle over natural resources and sovereignty in a rapidly melting world share the same quiet fate? A germane topic today, sustainability is not just a question concerning a particular architectural design but the infrastructure and networks between nation states that will determine not only what—but who—is sustained in the future. The DEW Project revisits the issue of boundaries—both in regards to the environment and sovereignty—while observing how communication technology plays a pivotal role in the definition and delivery of such ideologies.
The DEW Project collects several components:
A remote transmission station housed in a geodesic dome on the Yukon and Klondike Rivers continually records and transmits the sounds of the rivers flowing and the ice shifting using hydrophones embedded in and under the ice. A solar powered system, the installation runs 24 hours a day with a computer controlled LED lighting system generating a radiating beacon in the snowfield.
INTERNET AUDIO STREAM
The audio is streamed live from Dawson City over the internet. There are 3 ways to listen to the rivers:
1. On-site: enter the radome and listen via supplied headphones.
2. In Dawson City: tune to 100.1 MHz to listen to the installation.
3. Outside of Dawson: visit the web link for a live audio feed: www.stankievech.net/projects/DEW/stream
GRAVITY'S RAINBOW: Performance + Lecture
Starts @ 20:30
Monday, April 6th
KIAC School of Visual Arts
3rd Ave + Queen
Dawson City, Yukon.
On April 6, 2009—the centenary of the discovery of the North Pole—an artist talk will be given by Stankievech on the history of the DEW Line technology and contemporary issues of Arctic Sovereignty. Following the talk will be a sound performance using live samples from the river installation, electromagnetic microphones, radios and computer. The performance is accompanied by video footage shot in remote locations across the Yukon and Northwest Territories cataloguing different communications technology (microwave, satellite, radio, radar, etc).
Canadian ice wine and American “champagne” will be served.
BAR-1 DEW LINE ARCHIVE
Coinciding with The DEW Project is the launch of David Neufeld’s online BAR-1 DEW Line Archive. This online archive catalogues images and blueprints from the Department of National Defense, Neufeld’s personal collection and others. The web archive will be the most comprehensive collection of audio-visual information available to the public to date on a single DEW line station covering construction, operations and Inuit involvement.
David Neufeld is the Yukon and Western Arctic Historian for Parks Canada.
A limited edition catalogue of the project with a vinyl record will be released in the Fall.
Project also forthcoming in 306090's issue Sustain and Develop, Fall 2009, distributed by Princeton Architectural Press.
CHARLES STANKIEVECH works at the intersection of art, architecture and theory. Through aesthetic experimentation and rigorous research, he reveals latent histories while questioning conventional boundaries. His writings have been included in several academic journals, such as Leonardo Music Journal (MIT Press), numerous artist’s catalogues and translated into French, Italian and German. His work has been exhibited in the Biennale of Architecture (Venice), Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), Subtle Technologies (Toronto), Eyebeam (New York), and the Planetary Collegium (UK). Stankievech holds an MFA in Open Media and BA (hon.) in Philosophy + Literature. He is represented by Galerie Donald Browne in Montreal. Currently developing the new KIAC School of Visual Art in Dawson City, Yukon, Stankievech is also a researcher in the Digital Media network for the University of the Arctic.
Dawson City, Yukon