Multiambient: the sound of art
Located in the plus-15 at the EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts around the corner from Alberta Theatre Projects, Calgary-based Brooks native Tona Walt Ohama’s Multiambient sound installation introduces downtown pedestrians to a new form of sensory-engaging art.
Featuring Ohama’s own synthesized ambient compositions, “Multiambient plays out of 12 round speakers, each at a slightly different pace allowing for a different experience depending on where you stand,” says Ohama.
Out of a number of qualified submissions, Multiambient was selected to remain installed in the plus-15 until August 2013.
“Tona stood out, because of the amount of work that he had put into considering the space and how it would be heard,” says Tammy McGrath, visual and media arts programmer at the EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts.
Ohama had created Multiambient with the intention that it be played in a gallery with multiple speakers. Each speaker offers a different sound, but somehow the whole piece comes together in what McGrath refers to as, “a beautiful and organic piece.”
According to Ohama, the inspiration for Multiambient came about through his attempts to track down a particular type of ambient music. The installation’s title refers to this genre of music, which was created using a synthesizer and is played from multiple speakers located on both the ceiling and on the side of the wall of the Plus-15 walkway.
“You can’t really find a lot of music that sounds like this. It’s too simple. People tend to complicate their music so I decided to just make my own,” says Ohama.
While synthesizers aren’t typically associated with ambient music, Ohama says that the synthesizer sort of chose him. “I had never played music before, but I walked into a store and I saw this thing, and I just had to have it. It made strange sounds.”
In addition to the synthesized tunes he created for Multiambient, Ohama also composes minimal techno and progressive rock. However, he doesn’t consider himself a musician—simply a recording artist, as he admits he has had no formal training. Music is something that he plays by ear.
“I don’t know what music does for people, but for me, it’s the whole reason I live,” he says.
In terms of art in Calgary, Ohama believes that it has come a long way.
“There is an astounding amount of music and festivals in Calgary making it a great city,” says Ohama.
Multiambient will be featured at the Soundasaurus Festival of Multimedia Sound Arts from Nov. 15 – 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Engineered Air Theatre in the EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts. To find out more of Ohama’s music visit www.cdbaby.com.