Radio Revolten


rr_logo_etcOpening this weekend: the largest radio art festival in the world!! I am one of the five curators for the Radio Revolten International Radio Art Festival in Halle (Saale) Germany, running for the month of October 2016. Together with artistic director Knut Aufermann, and co-curators Sarah Washington, Ralf Wendt, and Elisabeth Zimmermann, we have the pleasure of welcoming more than 70 artists from 17 countries to Halle (Saale) to present 30 days of contemporary radio art at 15 locations around the city in the form of performances, installations, concerts and live radio broadcasts. Daily events take place in the Radio Revolten Club, located close to the city market square. Next door at Radio Revolten Central, visitors will experience art installations dealing with transmission in all its guises.

I have been particularly consumed by the curation and installation of the contemporary art exhibit Das Grosse Rauschen: The Metamorphosis of Radio Art, which features Steve Bates (ca/qc), DinahBird and Jean-Philippe Renoult (fr), Golo Föllmer and friends (de), Fernando Godoy M and Rodrigo Ríos Zunino (cl), Jeff Kolar (us), Emmanuel Madan (ca/qc), Sally Ann McIntyre (nz), Kristen Roos (ca), with Maia Urstad (no) installed in the Stadtmuseum Halle as part of the “Unsichtbar Welle” historical installation. These artists are working across the electro-magnetic spectrum with ultra-high frequency transmissions, with baby monitors, with radio silences or repurposing razor wire as antenna, creating in kinetic sculpture, exploded radio art, and site-specific interventions.

We are also transmitting 24 hours a day on Radio Revolten Radio, on the FM frequency 99.3 MHz in Halle, reaching further afield on the AM (middlewave) frequency 1575 kHz, and serving a worldwide audience via the festival livestream. 35 radio stations around the world will integrate parts of Radio Revolten Radio into their own programming, including Resonance FM, Radio Zero, members of the Radia network, and Wave Farm/WGXC Hudson Valley NY. Remarkable events will surprise Halle throughout the month of October 2016: from towers to castles to gardens, radio will blossom into art.

Finally, I am presenting a new piece of my own entitled The Envelope of the Hour in the Roter Turm. This location is a jewel of the a site, being a 600-year-old clock tower in the market square here in Halle, which is the crossroads of farmer’s market, Oktoberfest, and the streetcar exchange. At night it feels like being inside of a microphone, and during the day the wind and city rushes through the windows. The piece is from my atomic clock series, and is a multi-channel sound installation made from audio manipulations of the radio broadcast of the atomic clock and sounds of the bells, exploring the sonic resonance, suspension, drift and decay of atomic and mechanical clock time. The work was supported by the Arts Research Institute of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Radio Revolten would be nothing without the incredible rock-solid base of organizing, blood, sweat, and glee embodied by Radio Corax, a free-radio station and the pride of Halle.

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Clock Tower, Radio Towers, Signal Structures


Friz_Halle_RT_bwThe clock tower in the Rote Turm, Halle (Saale), Germany.
Site of my upcoming installation “The Envelope of the Hour”, Radio Revolten, October 2016.

The summer solstice has just passed here in the northern hemisphere, so pale evenings abound. This year I’ll be sticking close to the west coast, and preparing for autumn transmissions.

First up, I’m finishing a little piece for the Radio Studies conference Transnational Radio Encounters, in Utrecht, Netherlands from July 5-7, 2016. I’m not able to attend in person, so I’ve sent a little Nocturne in my stead, a short podcost for the late night listening comfort (or dis-ease) of conference attendees, about signal infrastructures and experiencing distance. Featuring distant listening outpost XRRB.

Together with Toronto-based collective Public Studio we are finishing up our commissioned public art work 120 Mirrors, to be unveiled this summer in the new Lee-Lifeson Arts Park in North York, Greater Toronto Area. The piece involves 3 different sculptural parts including submarine-inspired speaking tubes, and a collection of horns modeled on hearing trumpets and megaphones which can be manipulated to acoustically amplify the surrounding sound space or amplify one’s own voice.

I’m also working on a commission entitled How to Pack a Whale for the second edition of Radiophrenia, a temporary radio art festival and station broadcasting on-air, online, and on-site from August 29- September 11, 2016 from the Glasgow Center for Contemporary Arts. Subject matter still under great secrecy–but I can reveal that it involves dreams about packing.

Most of all, I’m preparing for the sprawling Radio Revolten International Festival of Radio Art which will take place in Halle (Saale) Germany from October 1-30, 2016. I’m one of five co-curators, together with Knut Aufermann and Sarah Washington of Mobile Radio, Ralf Wendt of Radio Corax, and Elisabeth Zimmermann of Kunstradio Austria. My area of concern is the contemporary transmission art exhibition entitled Das Grosse Rauschen: The Metamorphosis of Radio, which will feature artists from all over the world considering transmission ecologies, and re-framing radio and other forms of wireless communication. We are also hosting more than 60 artists to perform, install, engage in public actions and radio activity as well as hosting a symposium entitled Radio Space is the Place (with nods to both Sun Ra and Robert Adrian X), and running a round-the-clock city-wide radio art station.

In addition to curating at Radio Revolten, I’ll be presenting a new work there funded by the Arts Research Institute at the University of California, Santa Cruz, entitled The Envelope of the Hour. This piece reflects on time obedience and standardization, as measured by the public clock tower and the broadcast atomic clock on shortwave radio channels internationally. Towers of power, recuperated into instruments.

Signing off for now… until next time, stay detuned….

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The end is just pretend


PublicStudio_ZeroHour_2015When my long-time Toronto collaborators Public Studio (Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky) approached me to compose sound for their latest video installation entitled Zero Hour, I was completely prepared for the task, having worked on several audio and radio art pieces around the atomic clock with several working titles including The Zero Hour. I also had a recording of the atomic clock (as broadcast internationally on shortwave frequencies) intoning the so-called zero hour, or 0:00:00 – 0:59:59 Coordinated Universal Time. So it’s a pleasure to be taking this sound work into new audiovisual territories!

The new work was commissioned for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in Toronto, coming up this weekend from sundown on October 3 to sunrise on October 4, 2015. The installation will be set up at 90 Queen’s Park in front of the Planetarium, and features a 360 degree dome projection with surround sound. Here’s what it’s all about:

ZERO HOUR: Public Studio with Etel Adnan, Carol Weinbaum, Josh Schonblum, Han Yang, Anna Friz, Lili Huston-Herterich

Apocalyptic prophecies reflect a coming to an end but are also revelatory, disclosing a kind of truth. While modernity gave rise to a new cluster of apocalyptic narratives, our post 9/11 world faces anxieties that have generated new utopian and dystopian accounts looking for answers.

While tales of the apocalypse clutter and disorder all histories from the Americas through the Arab world, each have their distinct voice – all of them can be reconnected to struggles against an outside force – a state terror that has had disastrous effects on lands and lives – from economic ruin to climactic devastation.

Zero Hour gathers the cosmos and reflects not the stars of the northern hemisphere, but rather the weather it has disrupted and the words that come back in protest.

In Zero Hour, Public Studio invites renowned artist Etel Adnan – Lebanese essayist, painter, poet and philosopher, whose works include The Arab Apocalypse, Premonition and Sea and Fog – to work in collaboration creating a newly commissioned poem set to a video projection on a dome, of current weather patterns and climactic disturbances taking place in the southern hemisphere.



Ascend into air, fall into water


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Last spring I made a radio art piece for Radio Arts UK entitled Two Sleeps, which was an oneiric journey through imagined landscapes, and the tendency in my dreams of ascending and descending through air and water. This time around it was much more basic: the plane takes off from the fog and murk of East Iceland, soars over the pack ice around Labrador and descends into another fog bank near Santa Cruz, California.  From air to earth, but actually to water–though there’s drought here, the ocean is the nearest and most impressive body around.

My new appointment here at UC Santa Cruz is keeping me busy, but some additional shows are coming up fast: even as we speak I’m madly finishing the audio for Public Studio‘s new 360 degree video installation entitled Zero Hour, to be presented at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche on October 3-4, 2015; and a brand new audio-visual performance Fjarðarheiði created with Konrad Korabiewski and presented by Skálar | Sound Art | Experimental Music at the Festival de nouveau cinéma in Montréal, October 10, 2015.

Look out for misc. colloquia in the central California area to be announced shortly as well… and when not teaching students about the glories of listening and making noise, I’ll be out and about, loitering about the waterfront…

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Drone Wedding


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Drone Wedding is up for the next 3 months, a new work by Public Studio, commissioned for the Ryerson University Image Centre Media Wall in Toronto, Canada. Public Studio is an artist collective founded by film director Elle Flanders and architect Tamira Sawatzky, and includes other collaborators as the projects require. I have been the composer/sound designer for 3 multi-channel film installation works with Public Studio so far: Road Movie (2011), What Isn’t There (2014), and now Drone Wedding.

Drone Wedding is a multi-channel video installation which reflects on pervasive contemporary surveillance society against the frame of drone reconnaissance and targeted strikes. Cameras collect a tremendous amount of data in all aspects of daily public and private life; Drone Wedding considers the more ominous element in this flow of images– who’s watching, who is being watched, and how comfortable or knowledgeable is Canadian society with this growing surveillance infrastructure and how it is being used, who is being targeted, at home and abroad?

I crafted the sound from a number of radiophonic sources–encrypted radio communications (including numbers stations), military ground-air talk, ambient radiation from electronic devices via induction coils and VLF antennas, video documents made public by various watchdog organizations, misfiring AM radio transmitters, etc. It’s in the air all around us–devices and people, recording everything.

Watch the composite version of the video here

Short review by the Globe and Mail here



New work with Public Studio


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In March 2013 I working in Israel/Palestine with Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky of Toronto-based Public Studio on their newest film installation, What Isn’t There. The piece comes from nearly 20 years of photographing and filming on the sites of former Palestinian villages in Israel, an exploration of the politicized landscape in all its beauty, banality, and absurdity. The installation had its premiere in Toronto on May 22, 2013 in a one-night outdoor presentation, and consists of four channel video, accompanied by stereo sound (which visitors listen to on wireless headphones). It’s a powerful piece, which truly immerses visitors due to the design and scale of the screens, the intimate sound, and very formal yet generous presentation of the subject. I’m super pleased to be part of the team, composing and designing the sound.

Public Studio never rests, so we’re busy at our terminals working on a commission for Ryerson University, another audio/visual work called Drone Wedding. Wedding industrial complex meets military industrial complex, war meets the everyday under a familiar sky…. I wish I could say such an idea were a farce, but too often drone strikes abroad have targeted innocent civilian gatherings like weddings and parties. Drone Wedding will be up and running for the fall semester, from September 17-December 19, 2014 on the Ryerson University New Media Wall, in downtown Toronto, Canada.

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On the Road with Public Studio


IMG_1478I began working with Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky aka Public Studio in 2011, when I composed music and did sound design/installation for their multi-channel film work Road Movie. The piece explores the segregated road system in the West Bank, with perspectives from Israelis and Palestinians. Recently I’ve been working on the sound for Public Studio’s current long-running project What Isn’t There, documenting the Palestinian villages of 1948, from which their Arab inhabitants were displaced and exiled. This latest installment in Public Studio’s 15-year process with the villages is a multi-channel film installation featuring 14 villages.

Up until last week, I had never traveled to Israel/Palestine, and so had been learning about the area through various books, news and editorial media and through immersion in the sound recordings from Public Studio’s location shoots so far. Last week I finally went there myself, to take the Public Studio deluxe tour of the West Bank, record sound at some village sites, and to try to parse the long history of conquests that is writ large on the landscape, from Roman ruins to Marmaluke fortresses to Palestinian olive groves to Bedouin encampments to Israeli army bases, checkpoints, and walled-in settlements.

Suba 3Suba, a Palestinian village built on the ruins of a Crusader fort
AF+TS eat almondsTamira and I take a beak to sample some tart green almonds off the tree…

The current situation is quite literally inscribed on the land, revealing that this is now a battle that is largely being fought by pervasive, insidious construction and control of infrastructure, where the one with the biggest walls, the fastest roads, and control of the checkpoints wins. On the hilltops in Palestine, the radio communications towers are the one of first indications that an illegal Israeli settlement is coming, bringing walls and soldiers and strangely Santa Fe style-suburban homes with them.

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Meanwhile, time seems to stand still, in a way, in the hazy hills around Nablus or Ramallah, where lemon trees and olive groves flourish in the terraced hills, drivers are fearless, people are kind and hostly, and the dust blows forward and the dust blows back.

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City at Night: White Night


friz_white_nightTonight is the opening of my new installation and performance entitled White Night, created within the frame of my City at Night theme during a 2-month residency with KC Tobačna 001 and radioCONA here in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

* Opening at 19:00 at KC Tobačna 001 gallery, Tobačna ulica 1, Ljubljana
* RadioCONA broadcast on 88.8FM begins at 19:16
* Performance in the gallery at 20:00-ish

Later on, Brane Zorman and I do a live set for 2 FM frequencies, using the radioCONA temporary frequency (88.8FM) and the airwaves of Radio Študent (89.3FM) here in Ljubljana. For those of you listening locally, make sure to have 2 radios on at home, one for each station, to hear the full effect!

Here’s a little description of White Night
Radiophonic installation and performance

Since the advent of artificial illumination, the nocturnal urban space is increasingly described by its lighting. The shape and contour of the built environment is outlined by streetlighting, highlighted by mobile car and transport lights, and by lights left blazing in the windows of office towers and store fronts, or recreating daylight over subdivisions, parking lots and sports fields. The stars recede and the sky grows blank from the strength of light pollution, a process accentuated by the typical fog in Ljubljana in winter: no sun, no stars, only diffuse light in a white sky drawn close to the ground.

The ubiquitous infrastructure of the electrical grid powers most nocturnal activity, and its surplus is ticks, static, and hums transmitted by many nodes: buildings, devices, lights, and lines; by damp electrical wires, power stations, connection boxes, irate refrigerators, and ungrounded home entertainment systems alike. Electrical and spectral communication grids overlap and exceed the official city limits, and in these electro-magnetic fields invisible creatures sing on a pale night made indistinct by fog.

Created while in residence at Tobačna 001 and with radioCONA; travel funding gratefully received from the Canada Council for the Arts, Media Art division.
Thank you to Irena Pivka and Vlado G. Repnik.

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NRRF rebroadcast at LAK


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Two NRRF: B Radio episodes from earlier this summer, Voyage to the Forbidden Planet and Landfall on the Forbidden Planet are being rebroadcast as part of the LAK Festival for Nordic Sound Art in Copenhagen, DK September 26-29, 2013. Curated and produced by Jan Høgh Stricker and Kasper Vang as part of their 24-hour radio program Avantgarde FM II.

LAK Festival of Nordic Sound Art presents new Nordic, experimental sound art in raw and urbane settings. In 2013, LAK focuses on how sound art is used as a laboratory to explore new forms of sound and new ways to listen to the world.

NRRF: B Radio is a collaborative effort to make unlicensed neighborhood radio art. NRRF mashes b-list genres with radio art to structure the improvisational nature of the shows. It’s live radio, streamed, with special guests and live audience. The core group consists of Jonny Farrow, Anna Friz, Steve Germana, Jeff Kolar, and Peter Speer with Sarah Knudtson (documentation).



Digitale Sinneskulturen des Radios


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I have a site-specific installation up this weekend in Berlin as part of the conference Digitale Sinneskulturen des Radios/Multisensual Radio Culture.

21./22. JUNI 2013
STUDIO P4 | Nalepastraße 18-50 | 12459 Berlin

Studio Time is a new piece which adapts compositional elements from For the time being (2010) and What the cuckoo knows (2013), two recent pieces of mine exploring aspects of radio and timekeeping. This family of works considers the fallibility and musicality of broadcast clocks. Studio Time uses incidences of official time signals (such as UTC broadcast on shortwave radio, the National Research Council time signal heard on Canadian public radio, and clock tower bells heard at noon on Finnish and Dutch radio stations), as well as sounds from domestic analogue striking clocks, particularly cuckoo clocks. The installation was created for the conference on the site of the former studios of the DDR Funkhaus, now a recording studio and venue. The studio is preserved in its original design, and Studio Time occupies four voice-over isolation booths adjacent to a main studio. Each booth has a different part of the piece: two single channel pieces are heard over a mono speaker in each of two booths, a set of headphones plays a stereo piece in the third booth, and a mono radio transmits a composition in the fourth booth.

Thanks to Emmanuel Madan for setting things up for me in absentia. He’s exhibiting an installation exploring mechanical induction and bodily capacitance at the conference as well, entitled Lueurs.

Digitale Sinneskulturen des Radios is presented by Masterstudiengang Online Radio, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg mit Breitband, Deutschlandradio Kultur und Experimentelles Radio, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar.