Working in video, sculpture, performance, and installation, Duncan MacDonald creates work that is fundamentally about sound. Combining new and obsolete technologies, MacDonald investigates the relationship of the visual to the aural, overturning the classical hierarchy of the senses and challenging conventions of perception. In Little Revolutions, MacDonald draws on his experience as artist, professor, and father to explore the sonic stuff of everyday life. Through labour-intensive processes that are at once poetic and absurd, MacDonald engages in formal and conceptual revolutions in an attempt to gently tweak the world around him.
Designed by Lauren Wickware, Little Revolutions is has more in common with an artist multiple than a straightforward exhibition catalogue, and is as much object as publication. French-folded pages, meaning the fore-edge is sealed, require the reader to rip each page along the outside fold to discover the enclosed texts and images. This approach to the layout references the notion of “revolutions”, or spinning aimlessly in futility, a recurrent theme in the exhibition. This format also nods to the deeply personal narratives that underlie the work, but are partially concealed through the conceptual strategies MacDonald employs in their making. Unexpected and challenging for readers who revere pristine publications, the process of revealing the content calls for pause, involves negotiation, and is inherently imperfect, much like the unpredictable and messy realities of family life.
Referencing the prevalence of music and sound in the work, this soft-cover book is reminiscent of vintage, pocket-sized musical scores, with cover texts foil-stamped onto linen paper. Creamy white from cover-to-cover, the typography used throughout is designed to recall sheet music, the font having developed from the practice of calligraphic handwriting.
The book pairs an essay by curator Marcie Bronson with a creative text by the artist. Written in two parts — the first during the exhibition, the second with the benefit of hindsight — MacDonald’s text provides another layer of insight into his working method, and the blurring of the personal and professional that begs the question: where does life end, and where does work begin?
Duncan MacDonald is an artist and Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Arts, Brock University. His artworks take form in diverse modes such as audio art, performance, video, installation, and drawing, often exploring the corporeal sensorium and its commodification. MacDonald received a BFA from York University and an MFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. His works have been exhibited, performed, and recorded throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, and South America. MacDonald currently lives and works in St. Catharines, Ontario. He is represented by p|m Gallery, Toronto, Ontario.