Installation = Music + Time

In 2011, two local experimental artists met and chronologically depicted 88 individuals to correspond to each key of the piano. Julia Krolik and Owen Fernley (aka the Decomposing Pianos project team) then made a movie which serves as an introduction to the project and showcases the capabilities of an “interactive tone generator.”

88 Years – a startlingly original art installation by experimental artists Julia Krolik and Owen Fernley – offers a portrait of our community through a piano keyboard. Ottawa Life Magazine is proud to host a soirée during which the installation will be unveiled in the nation’s capital.

“It really looks amazing to see a portrait of someone born in every year from 1924 to 2011,” Krolik says. “If you want to see for yourself, we have made a movie poster for the Screening Room (a Kingston cinema) that includes all 88 portraits!” [The poster is online at] “This is the ‘movie’ that we made the poster for. It’s the first presentation of 88 Years and we performed it live right there in the movie theatre.”

The team also made a computer program called the 88 Years Interactive Tone Generator – an interactive instrument that can be played on its own. “We are hoping to get it online once we complete the design,” Krolik says. At the Screening Room, the artists recently performed a 40-minute live video concert using the same interactive tone generator, only before a live audience and with additional visualizations and sound design.

“We wanted the performance at the Screening Room to look and feel like a movie. We produced a trailer for it, which was played at Square Pegs (free screening of video art in Kingston’s Market Square), and we designed the poster to look like a movie poster, right down to the ‘steel tongs’ font along the bottom. The sound and visuals were made live using the interactive tone generator, such that everything was produced in the moment using computer code to guide us. Although our plan was to mimic the movie experience, the performance had all the tension and excitement of a live show.”

“The piano is a natural way to sonify our musical age,” Fernley explains. “By placing each year since 1924 on the chromatic scale, an individual can be represented by a single key. A chord becomes a friend, a family or a relationship. A note becomes a full life, well-lived. Man and machine move along the same arrow of time to which we are all captive.”

The release of 88 Years in September will astound the art world, Ottawa Life Magazine publisher Dan Donovan predicts.