TABOO - TRANSGRESSION - TRANSCENDENCE
in Art & Science
27-29 September 2023, Malta Society of Arts, Valletta
Elizabeth Littlejohn is a Toronto-based communications professor, artist, documentary filmmaker, and journalist who focuses on revealing hidden histories within urban geographies. As a visual researcher, Elizabeth utilizes photogrammetry, projection mapping, augmented reality, and documentary film to re-contextualize buildings, islands, and cities through the eyes of mythical urban heroes.
In 2022, the first project Elizabeth created in Berlin was 'Berlin’s Hidden Heroes', which celebrated four civic heroes, with the Kaugummi-Mann, the bubblegum machine operator, as its augmented reality tour guide.
‘Klangböden: Sound Floors’ is the second project in her Berlin-based series. Created in 2023, this interactive installation is based upon the true story of revelers breaking through the attic floor, falling into the floor beneath it, at Glougauer Strasse 16. GlougauAIR presently resides in one of the first buildings designed in 1896 by Berlin’s municipal architect, Ludwig Hoffman, and has a complex architectural legacy as a primary school teachers’ quarter, and, more recently, an artistic heritage as an artists’ residency.
This multi-media installation uses images from this building’s floor plan, projection mapping, binaural sound, video, and animation. The central character, the Sound-Sweep, is activated by the user from a game controller attached to the top of a 1964 vacuum cleaner, called ‘the Dusterette’. The user can control the position of the Sound-Sweep as he travels from floor to floor, sweeping up sound, as well as the position and shape of the sound waves, graphically represented by the interactive spirograph. When the user places the Sound-Sweep’s vacuum nozzle in the center of the spirograph, an audio memory is captured by his Dusterette, to be ingested, re-recorded, and released back into the installation as a sound-sweep wave.
The inspiration for this installation is based upon a 1960 story by J.G. Ballard, ‘The Sound-Sweep’, in which ‘der Klaugsauger’ vacuums up residual sound from its attic and stairwells, as the sounds become too overwhelming for its apartment resident. ‘Klangböden: Sound Floors’ asks questions about the weight of history, importance of memory, and heightened sensitivity towards the accumulation of the past.
Elizabeth Littlejohn is a communications professor, human rights activist, photojournalist, and documentary filmmaker. She has written for seventeen years on social movements, sustainable urban planning, and climate change. As a running gun social movement videographer, she has filmed Occupy, Idle No More, and climate change movements internationally.
In 2018 she directed, filmed, and produced ‘Leelah’s Highway’, a broadcast half hour documentary focusing on the suicide of trans youth, Leelah Alcorn, and ‘Frolic’s Haunt’, a nine-minute documentary about a queer, accessible haunted house, with its own unique scare system. Both documentaries were shown in international film festivals. ‘Leelah’s Highway’ won honourable mention for best short film in OutShine and the Cindependent Film Festival in 2018.
In 2022 Elizabeth Littlejohn directed ‘The City Island’, a feature-length documentary about the razing of homes on the Toronto Island, and the Islanders’ stewardship of the park system. As an extension of this documentary, Elizabeth created and designed the 'Toronto Island Puzzle Tour', an augmented-reality smartphone application depicting six locales of the hidden history of the Toronto Island, funded by the City of Toronto’s Artworx Grant. She has just finished directing 'More than a Beach', a 21-minute documentary about a fictionalized beach and social distancing compound in the west end of Toronto, with tour guide, Shari Kasman.