Grad student cracks top 25 in SSHRC Storytellers contest

Anyone who has ever experienced a performance by Noiseborder Ensemble knows what a rich and complex blending of aural and visual information the group’s largely improvisational shows always include.  

Trying to tell the ensemble’s story in a three-minute video would be a daunting challenge for any aspiring filmmaker, but it’s one that turned out to be rewarding for Owen Eric Wood.

A master of fine arts candidate in the University’s School for Arts and Creative Innovation, Wood produced a short documentary about the ensemble, submitted it to a contest hosted by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and saw it selected as one of the top 25 entries.

“It was a great opportunity because there’s so much visual and auditory information to use,” said Wood, who has been working as a research assistant with the ensemble since he came to UWindsor from Toronto. “The trick was to distill it down to three minutes.”

SSHRC’s Research for a Better Life: the Storytellers Challenge is a contest that invited participants to submit entries in the media format of their choice that told the story of research projects funded by the national granting agency. Participants could talk about their own research, or about other SSHRC-funded researchers.

The Noiseborder Ensemble, which is led by faculty members Brent Lee, Sigi Torinus and Nick Papador, was awarded a three-year SSHRC research-creation grant in 2011 to explore the integration of sound and image in multimedia performance.

Wood, who has a degree in journalism with a minor in broadcast from Ryerson University, said his experience working with the group gave him a good understanding of the technology they use and the complexity of their performances.

“I think it works really well and it’s just so interesting to watch because of the richness of all the material they produce,” he said of his video, which he estimated took about 40 hours to produce.

Cracking the top 25 earned Wood $3,000 as well as registration and two nights’ accommodation at the 2013 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Victoria, B.C. He’ll participate in a special two-day communications workshop there, including the Storytellers Showcase, and could get the chance to deliver a featured presentation at the World Social Science Forum in Montreal in October.

Watch Owen Eric Wood’s video about the Noiseborder Ensemble.