Ida Toninato / Listening to the Abyss
Carte blanche to Ida Toninato – Listening to the Abyss
In response to Sans toit ni loi: The Cetaceans of the Saint Lawrence by Cynthia Girard-Renard
Title : Listening to the Abyss
Composition : Ida Toninato
Sound mixing : Blaise Borboën-Léonard
Length : 18 min 32 s
*** For an optimal listening experience, we strongly recommend using earphones or headphones.

Created in companionship with Cynthia Girard-Renard’s installation at Fonderie Darling during the winter lockdown, Ida Toninato’s electro-acoustic work plunges us into the remote habitat of whales. We submerge, sink to 10 metres below the water’s surface where the sun’s rays still penetrate. Descend some more and get swallowed up by the darkness at 100 metres. Lose our footing but also all physical and visual reference points. A sound rises up from the depths, reaching our ears. A colossal body brushes against us.

Holding our breath, we find ourselves under water, in a space that opens to a bottomless abyss. The opening is neither empty nor limpid. On the contrary, it throngs; it rumbles, crackles, and pounds in our eardrums; it pulses like a heartbeat, purrs like bellows. In waters perturbed by the exploitation of marine environments, a countdown has begun. Long exhalations of a solitary saxophone become entangled with the shrill pressure of an alarm, the low drumming of an inexorably tightening vice.

The sonic journey into which Toninato draws us differs from that of scientists who equip themselves with hydrophones and other measuring instruments in order to elucidate the behaviour of marine mammals. This adventure offers less guiding markers and takes more risks as it engages our vulnerability: How might we expose ourselves to a being that is infinitely larger than us? How might we become more sensitive to the intensity of such proximity? How might we be compelled to stay and look this other straight in the eye?

Ji-Yoon Han

Translated by Oana Avasilichioaei


IDA TONINATO is a musician, saxophonist, composer and improviser. A sound explorer guided by a strong desire to immerse herself in sound and space, she develops an exhilarating game - the expression of her need for interaction with places, acoustics and sensibilities. After years of classical contemporary repertoire practice, during which she has created over fifty solo or chamber music works, she plunged head first into her own musical creation. From this change was born Strangeness is Gratitude, her first solo album released under the label Kohlenstoff Records. Enthusiastically received by critics, this album firmly planted the composer in the experimental underground. A second album, We Become Giants, is released in 2020 on Yann Novak's label Dragon's eyes Recordings.  Ida Toninato writes music for theater, dance and film productions and is part of the exciting Jane / KIN duo with sound artist Ana Dall'Ara-Majek. Her work with violist Jennifer Thiessen is nominated in 2019 for a JUNO Award (The Space Between Us, Ambiances Magnétiques). She regularly performs with the Ensemble SuperMusique and the vocalist choir Joker. She holds a PhD in interpretation from the Université de Montréal and dove in 2021 on a virtual reality exploration with a project called Listening to the Walls.