I’m here in Montreal studying ruins, including their histories and the often-unsanctioned things that happen inside them. And since I took a radio production workshop that tasked me with recording ambient sounds from somewhere out in the world, I decided to head down to the old, abandoned Wellington Tunnel with my audio recorder.
Built in the 1930′s, the tunnel began as a route for cars under the Lachine Canal. After a bridge replaced it in the 1990′s, it became a graffiti gallery.
My husband Erik and I arrived at the tunnel after dark only to find its front gates locked. Just as we were about to give up, we heard voices from deep inside. I shouted “Hellooooooooo!” and received a wolfen whoop in response.
It turned out that a group of artists was preparing for a performance in the tunnel. They invited us to come back in an hour for their show.
Not knowing what to expect, we returned to join a number of other people at the tunnel’s mouth. When a low tone droned from the opposite end, someone whispered, “Follow the sound!” and we processed together into the darkness. Finally we reached a dead end, where blinking lightbulbs illuminated 20 minutes of dreamlike and erie music featuring a French horn, clanking metal things (a la Einstürzende Neubauten), and layers of electronic loops.
My camera phone failed to do the event justice:
But of course, I also recorded audio. So enjoy some sounds!
After the show we met some of the others present, including a woman who wore moon boots, a polka dot jumpsuit swathed in electronics, and a helmet topped with an antenna. She explained she had broadcast the performance using the antenna as an FM transmitter.
When the powers that be give up on a place, it opens up a pocket of relative anarchy where anything can happen. And that evening, what happened was a DIY noise-art spectacular.