Tristan R. Whiston

© Tristan R. Whistan, Moynan King, TRACE, 2012. Photo Henry Chan.


Tristan R. Whiston is a multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto, Canada. He is the artistic co-director of Red Dress Productions, with whom he has co-led seven large-scale community public mosaic projects. His work as an audio artist over the past five years has gained him international acclaim. Tristan has written and directed five audio documentaries for CBC; most notably, his work, Middle C, which won the 2007 Premios Ondas Award for International Radio and has gone on to air on national radio in 7 countries. Tristan was the founding director and head boy of The Boychoir of Lesbos from 1995–2006.

Middle C by Tristan R. Whiston
Tristan R. Whiston first performed as a solo soprano at the age of six. With that raw talent, years of hard work led to an accomplished singing career. But Tristan has decided to give up the most precious thing a singer has—the voice. You see, something was never quite right. Tristan always wanted to be a man. Now that dream is about to come true as Tristan embarks upon the process of gender reassignment. In a year’s worth of intimate audio diaries, we hear milestones like Tristan’s first shave. But the most striking thing is the transformation of Tristan’s singing voice. Tristan starts out as a soprano whose voice soars on the high notes. As the testosterone takes effect in Tristan’s body, that sublime voice is ripped to shreds and has to be completely recast—just like his identity. Middle C was produced by Carma Jolly and Tristan R. Whiston for CBC Radio’s Outfront in 2007. It won the Premios Ondas award for International Radio and a silver medal at the New York Festivals.

Listen to Middle C: 

TRACE by Tristan R. Whiston and Moynan King

trace: evidence or an indication of the former presence or existence of something

Can one man stand amidst his many voices and find herself there? Can a person sing harmony with different parts of theirselves? Can we trace the sound of ourselves as we change? If so, what remains of the original voice? Through an exploration of voice, trace transforms a private story into a performative experience integrating sound, video, installation and live performance. Using archival recordings taken before and during Tristan R. Whiston’s gender transition from female to male, along with recent recordings and live vocals, trace explores the idea that change is constant and we are always becoming someone new.

Throughout the installation are multiple speakers, each playing a single part or element in the immersive soundscape. Audience is invited to contribute to the performance by entering one of the installation’s beach inspired changing huts and, using old-fashioned technology, create their own vocal recording, eliciting an experience of auditory self-reflection. 

Video by Leslie Peters
Set elements by Trixie and Beever
Software design by Dafydd Hughes
Photography by David Hawe

Tristan R. Whiston and Moynan King are artists with distinct multi-disciplinary practices. Their shared interest in ideas of identity, gender, communication and the element of time (in both life and art) brought them together as artistic collaborators early their careers.

Co-presented by New Adventures in Sound Art for the Sound Travels Festival of Sound Art
Sound Travels Festival of Sound Art: August 4–31, 2012
New Adventures in Sound Art:

Performance Installation
August 24 @ 7:00pm–9:00pm
August 25 @ 11:00am–1:00pm & 7:00pm–9:00pm
August 26 @ 2:00pm–4:00pm
Artist talk: August 25 @ 1:00pm

Photo David Hawe.

Performance Yellow

This fragrance opens us to the question, has the show started? It's winter, the theatre is colder than the street and the room is filled with people and all their winter smells: wet faux leather, down, too much shampoo, and beer breath. The atmosphere is a trickster. Am I late, am I early?

Top Notes

yellow mandarin, mimosa

Middle Notes

honey, chamomile, salt

Base Notes

narcissus, guaiac wood, piss, beer