People of Georgian: Professor wins award for sound art

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People of Georgian: Meet Anton (Tony) Pickard

Sound art has been an interest since I was in high school in the 1960s, early 70s.

The high school I went to was very progressive. In fact, I had an electronic music course of all things. It sparked an interest in sound and audio, but I was not a musician; I don’t play any instruments.

But sound is really interesting, and I have a lot of appreciation for sound and music and that kind of thing.

A selfie taken from below of a person with short hair, glasses and a dark shirt. The image has a variety of neon colours outlining different parts of it.
Tony first got an interest in sound in the 1960s.

Creativity and art drive Tony

Sound art is an attempt at using audio as a way of personal expression, but it is definitely not music.

It’s not lyrical, it’s not musical. I’ll go out and record stuff – waves or water or whatever, take sounds from different places, and then I use software to manipulate it.

Creativity and art always driven me – whether it’s in the visual world like photography, or it’s audio and sound.

When I have a camera in my hand, I see differently; when I have a recorder in my hand, I hear differently.

Fast forward to 2018.

By that time, I had dabbled in sound art a little bit, but nothing really major. I took an opportunity to attend a workshop in South River, which is just south of North Bay.

There’s a facility up there called the New Adventures in Sound Art (NAISA), and they put on a workshop about ambisonic recording, which uses a special type of microphone that actually records a 360-degree sphere, not just stereo.

That experience really got me interested in what sound could do.

Waveforms, a sound art visualization by Anton (Tony) Pickard.

Tony wins award for three sound art pieces

Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of workshops there, noodling away on projects, teaching myself new things, and doing some new adventures at a sound gallery in Toronto.

The director at the sound gallery, Darren Copeland, is probably one of the most highly-regarded sound artists in the world, not just Canada. It’s nice to have some mentorship encouragement there.

Then, a while back, NAISA put out a call for submissions for its James Bailey Award. Their call for submissions was based upon the title, Remote Connections.

So, I took three sound pieces affiliated with making sound connections at remote distances – morse code, modem dial up, and an interval signal from the Radio Canada International shortwave – and worked with them and mangled them.

I submitted the pieces and am very pleased to have won the award.

Work at Georgian about curiosity, learning, sharing

Now at Georgian, I’m getting pretty heavily involved with virtual reality (VR), informally.

I’m learning how to build VR worlds. I’m looking at ways to incorporate VR within the creative space of Design and Visual Arts.

Recently, for an Art and Design Fundamentals class I was teaching, I brought in a VR headset. I have a virtual-reality world that I built using my wife’s clay sculptures, and I showed it to my students.

I’m a naturally curious person, I love learning new stuff, and I enjoy sharing it with others, so that’s what I do with my students.

Anton (Tony) Pickard, a Design and Visual Arts professor at Georgian’s downtown Barrie location, who has worked at the college for nearly 20 years. Tony was chosen as this year’s recipient of the James Bailey Award by New Adventures in Sound Art (NAISA).

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