A Paddling Caravan of Research-Creation along the Rideau Canal
Open Call for Participation // Early Summer 2015
Department of Biological Flow
Do you remember analog television? Sure you do, even if it was so last century. Funny colour schemes, rabbit ears, wood panelling. And sometimes, if you turned the dial just so when changing channels, you could for a brief moment be between two signals and catch each of their fuzzy images simultaneously during the threshold of passage.
Now switch channels to the canal, an even earlier technology and yet one which still endures. Whither betweenness given such a channelled conduit? It is with this question in mind that the Department of Biological Flow would like to extend a call for participation in a durational event of emergent research-creation titled Channel Surf. Here, too, we propose a primarily analog gesture of imagination, with artists, thinkers, movers, activists and healers forming a travelling caravan of paddlers canoeing and camping up the Rideau Canal from Kingston to Ottawa over a 12-day period.
Along the way we will explore two different geospatial contexts for thinking about art, philosophy, movement and pedagogy: first, an aquatic topology whose boundedness moves fluidly between the relatively organic lakes and watersheds of the Rideau waterway, and the rationalized lock systems that connect their differential elevations en route; and second, a littoral threshold that serves as a transition between the boundaries of water and land lining our passage along the way—not to mention the historic villages which dot the trajectory of this canal or channel. Tempo figures heavily in the former instance while a certain intermedial diagramming will inform the latter, each woven back and forth throughout our journey.
Participants are invited to engage this event in one of three ways: 1) Liquids: as part of the core group of paddlers and campers who will begin the journey in Kingston and complete the entire passage along the Rideau Canal to Ottawa, offering a certain continuity to the event; 2) Catalysts: as one of those who cannot take part for the entire trip, but would like the opportunity to join and/or depart the caravan mid-stream, creating a necessary recharge of energies along the way; 3) Effervescents: as someone who would like to join the travelling group for a communal evening event on land—as, for example, with an interested local artist who lives along the historic route or some curious boater pitching camp at the same time. Thus, we shall have an ever-changing dynamic of relations and potentials over the lifecycle of the event.
Channel Surf emerges from an earlier trajectory of event-based works such as Toward a Kinoderm Aesthetics, Process Transduction and Cottage University, and is inspired in part by other projects such as SenseLab’s Generating the Impossible, HomeShop’s Journey to Zhoukoudian, and the Compass Group’s Midwest Radical Culture Corridor.
A Loose Conceptual Narrative to be Event(u)ally Broken in Process
Toward an Evental Energetics (Kingston)
Act Two, Scene One:
Beginning in the Middle (Rideau Canal, Kingston)
Act Two, Scene Two:
To Exhaust and Endure (Rideau Canal, en route)
Act Two, Scene Three:
Fragility and Arrival (Rideau Canal, Ottawa)
Performing the Anarchive (Ottawa)
A Pragmatics of Paddling
Participants should be aware that Channel Surf proposes a very intensive physical experience covering 200km of transit over 12 days—not to mention the exhaustive rigours of thinking, creating, making, moving and sharing along the way. This is not to overstate the journey—tourists certainly traverse the Rideau by canoe every summer—but rather to make everyone aware of the energetic challenges in advance. We are not veteran paddlers ourselves and would be “in the same boat” as many others, so to speak, when it comes to questions of in/experience.
That said, there is a strong possibility we will try to rent a houseboat to accompany the caravan, should funds permit. This houseboat would be intended less as a leisurely cruise boat, but rather as an alternative for older participants, those with mobility concerns, participants who might have children along, people who might need a day off from paddling, to help carry supplies, to offer extra sleeping accommodations, and perhaps to get slightly ahead of the group at times to ensure campground reservations are looked after.
Ultimately, however, this is a paddling trip and an experiment in the energetics of research-creation and flow. If the full 200km sounds like a little too much, please also consider the possibility of participating as a Catalyst for part of the trip and join the group somewhere along the way.
Finally, as safety is of paramount importance to us, please only sign up for the event if you are a capable swimmer.
Meals and Accommodations
Our budget for the event includes food and accommodation costs only while on the Rideau Canal leg of the journey. Participants will be responsible for both of these during the opening and closing events in both Kingston and Ottawa. As for food, participants will be more or less “on their own” for eating breakfast and lunch foodstuffs provided during the journey, while we plan to be together each evening for preparing and sharing communal dinners. And save for the few individuals who may be sleeping on the houseboat during the trip, the rest of us will be camping—either at the canal lockstations proper or at one of the many campgrounds along the way. All necessary campground fees will be covered.
At this time we are proposing a hybrid funding model to subsidize the event, consisting of grant opportunities, in-kind support, participant fees and gift economies. Please note that there will ultimately be some small fee to participate in this event, though we hope it will be as subsidized as possible. Spots will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.