By Jeevin Johal
VANCOUVER – It would be a daunting task to decipher the number of sounds the human ear consumes in one day, and we’re not just talking about what’s blasted into our membranes by a pair of pretty little white earbuds. Simply navigating through life on a day-to-day basis, we are bombarded with a plethora of both pleasing and not-so-pleasing noises. For instrument builder and musician George Rahi, the world is a complex library of vibrant tones waiting to be dissected and reimagined in a completely unique light.
With extensive knowledge of both acoustic and electronic music, Rahi disassembles seemingly outdated objects and instruments, stitching them together with surgeon-like precision to take the listener on an expedition through uncharted sonic landscapes.
“In a lot of these materials there are perfectly good things that, at the time, represented the crux of technological development,” discusses Rahi. “I’m taking my own approach, [using them] as raw materials for a new kind of sound.”
In his upcoming exhibit, pulses // patterns, Rahi unveils his latest Frankenstein in the form of an electronically processed pipe organ, rejuvenating its classic sound with a stunning twist of modernity and birthing new life into the forgotten beast. With childlike wonder, he explains, “I think it’s a really creative way to look at things in the world as holding potential [to receive] a new life as an instrument.”
As computers get thinner, resolutions become bigger and brighter, and phone updates get more frequent, “e-waste” has become an ever-increasing problem, with electronics piling up like discarded pizza boxes. But for Rahi, these items are ripe for the picking. Rahi encourages others to “look at e-waste in terms of new generative possibilities for what’s there.” By mutilating these one-time pinnacles of technology, they can be metamorphosed into something with purpose again.
To some, it may seem that what Rahi is doing is an elaborate science experiment, but his creations hardly lack emotional depth. Like any song or piece of music, his instruments tell stories.
“I don’t think its too much of a stretch to say that there are expressive qualities to these sounds,” says Rahi. “Everything works together to create an environment and an experience.”
pulses // patterns runs from December 8-14 at Western Front. George Rahi performs alongside keyboardist and composer Robyn Jacobs on December 14.fine art, george rahi, Western Front