C'NT Programming- Noel Bégin and Los Greasy Bombers

Noel Bégin Invite"A Panoptique Diapositive Diorama making Diaphanous of the Diabolical"

“It’s weird. I try to show people something and they say I already saw that. You can look at something more than once.”

Noel Bégin

For those of you who missed it and perhaps some of you who were there, Noel Bégin’s "A Panoptique Diapositive Diorama making Diaphanous of the Diabolical" was an amazing feat. Noel created two installations in two days. He took us from an intimate fairy-land of light and magic to a nostalgic club night. Accompanied by Los Greasy Bombers, and reminiscent of those glorious 90s at the Night Gallery where Noel put together more than 250 slide and video shows with DJs and bands. Individually the Bombers rocked club's stage in various manifestations, and like Noel, continue to play with zeal, joy and decades hard at it. The C'NT just couldn't resist the idea of offering these gents a playground.

The installation takes shape as Noel unpacks box after box of treasured slide projectors and slides. Each projector has a special talent. One throws light a great distance, one has metal siding like a ’64 Cadillac and another has a lens that would make an astronomer swoon. He has tiny viewers, some with their own stylish bags, and some that look like they were designed for James Bond. These eBay antiques are obsolete, so Noel salvages, cleans, rewires and plays with them constantly. He honours their singular use, beauty and simplicity. They are not as efficient as the myriad of ways we can share images now, but they are incredibly designed, crafted and functional objects that, in Noel’s hands, have evolved into a new medium.

Like a painter choosing his palette, Noel flips through binders of slides recording great moments in the history of Calaway Park, picket fences, human innovation and whatever else catches his attention behind the camera or snooping through detritus at a garage sale. There is so much it is overwhelming, but he recites the why, where, and how he came to have this image or that. The images selected for the first installation are a collection of mundane slides of holiday moments, industrial machinery, flora and suburbia. Alone they are the fodder of gift shops, lost memories, sales presentations and they are about someone else. In Noel’s installation, disjointed images interlace creating a non-linear narrative and painting the walls and ceiling with light and colour. In this world a water-skier conquers the flooded Elbow and a runway model is tented by a traffic pylon that turns into a hot-air balloon. Tiny images of people in spectacular outfits or situations sit beside an image of a suburban 2-story with a gaping maw of a garage out front. Small things are large and large things are small and to see it all you have to enter the installation.

Noel BéginAs you weave your way through a maze of cords and piled up projectors you become the screen. Moving one way breaks the light of one projector and the beam of another is revealed. Bending down fills the ceiling with light and standing up exposes a new image that follows you in your shadow. At the end of the maze is a tiny viewer with a close-up of a metal stamped label saying “Fresh air intake”. You take a breath and make your way back through the maze again. Guilliver, disco dancer and voyeur – Noel casts the viewer in this story.

On Saturday, however, the cast is Los Greasy Bombers and there is a distinct line between us and them. A wall of sound keeps people back and a line of small screens act as reverse footlights obscuring the band and lighting up a no-man’s land between performers and audience (for the first few songs, anyway). Images of fences turn to gardens, seascapes and roller coasters and a monster-sized flower bud lights up the side wall. Meanwhile the Bombers lure the crowd closer with greasy chords, riveting solos and a solid repetoire of alt-country/rock/punk derived songs. As our pupils settle into the low light, it becomes humourously obvious that the menacing chain link fence separating the band from the audience is a projected façade and the stage is really defined by a curtain of dried sunflowers. Like the stage, the Bombers (and frankly like many of us) may have traded a “Hardcore Logo” lifestyle for day jobs, families and mortgages, but these gents can rock. There is a confidence and ease that comes from more than a century of playing around the scene and the Bombers play – whether it’s the garage or the C’NT. They have a good time and it is infectious. Wrap that in Noel’s performance/slide show/installation and there really is nothing that could have made August 16, 2008 any hotter.

Shelley Ouellet

Noel Bégin - CV | Los Greasy Bombers | Images | Essay | The Show