Research Project

2008 - 2013

John Wynne

Funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, and aFieldtrip Grant from the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project, shared with Tyler Peterson, University of Arizona,

Anspayaxw uses photography, voice and environmental recordings to create an immersive installation based on an endangered indigenous language in northern Canada. Photographs taken by Wynne and Denise Hawrysio were digitally manipulated by Wynne and printed onto bespoke speaker panels: each photograph becomes a flat loudspeaker, an independent sound source reproducing one of 12 audio channels played back via hard disc recorder.

This project began with a fieldtrip to record speakers of Gitxsanimaax on the Kispiox reserve. The methodology built on Wynne’s ‘click-languages’ project in the Kalahari, working collaboratively with linguists with a history of community involvement, making high-quality recordings for their research, for his own research and creative practice, and for local and international archives.

Showings include: Border Zones: New Art Across Cultures, Museum of Anthropology (MoA) Vancouver 2010, 115,831 visitors; Hazelton BC 2011, and in San Francisco as part of the American Anthropological Association Conference 2012. Anspayaxw showed as a solo exhibition at MoA’s Satellite Gallery 2013, where Wynne collaborated with Peterson and anthropologist Kate Hennessey (Simon Fraser University) on an interdisciplinary symposium, ‘Problematizing Research on Endangered Languages: Indigeneity, Community, and Creative Practice’, a series of presentations and roundtable discussions with artists, community members and academics.

Anspayaxw is cited in ‘The Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages’ 2011. Wynne’s chapters, ‘To Play or Not to Play’, in ‘Playing with Words’, CRiSAP 2008 and ‘Hearing Faces, Seeing Voices: Sound Art, Experimentalism and the Ethnographic Gaze’ in ‘Between Art and Anthropology’, London 2010 demonstrate his research processes.

Commissions drawing on the research materials: ‘The True Language’, BBC Radio 4 2012 and a sound piece ‘Kispiox’ for the ‘Sounds (Extra)Ordinary’ exhibition Halifax, Canada, 2012, which was widely broadcast across Canada.

Read more about Anspayaxw on John Wynne's website:

Images by Scott Massey


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