Free reeds and free radio


anna_accordionUsually when more than one sound installation moves into a gallery space, it’s an instant competition where the loudest wins the day. This Saturday, myself and Coppice (Joseph Kramer and Noé Cuéllar) seek to prove otherwise. We are installing two different sound-based installations that intentionally overlap, interested to see what they produce in conversation with one another. We’ll be performing within/with them as well, each taking a turn to add to the sonic environment.

I was excited from the first time I heard of Chicago-based Coppice, as they are also focused on free reeds and electronics, unstable systems, and spatialized, often quiet sounds.  Here’s what we’re up to:

Anna Friz/ Coppice   Saturday May 25, 2013     TriTriangle   Third Floor, 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave  Chicago    Installation open 6-11pm.  Performance around 9pm.

Anna Friz: Nocturne

An intimate atmosphere of transmission inside a multi-channel array of radio receivers and micro-watt transmitters, suspended and dispersed throughout the space. The radios express nighttime respirations, radio-synthesis, and uneasy dreams. The larger array is joined by three table-top custom radio/tape players built by Hyde Park inventor George Kagan.

Nocturne will overlap in installation and performance with A Vinculum Variation by Coppice, engaging in conversation with the elements of the shared sonic landscape and the live instruments of all three performers. Anna plays free reeds, electronics, and cassettes.

Coppice: A Vinculum Variation

This presentation expands the performed-installation practice of the duo to invite conversation with adjacent sonic work.  The multichannel installation and performance accommodates motifs and materials from Vinculum, an ongoing project since 2010.  Technically, the work relies on a custom-built inductive mixing table, formerly utilized in Copse (2010).  The table redistributes the sounds of the Vinculum archive as they are played back through small speakers resting at different locations on its surface.  The installation will be elaborated in performance by the reorientation of the speakers on the table and live material related to Vinculum.



Gone south, with radios


I’ve packed up my radios, and taken them on the road to Valparaiso Chile, for installation and performance at the Tsonami Festival de Arte Sonoro 2012. Many thanks to the whole Tsonami team here, for putting on a really generous event with a great community spirit!

Respire is remounted here as a 3-frequency piece, located in the corridor of the lower access to Ascensor El Peral (there are many ascensors here, which are a kind of outdoor elevator that make it easier to scale the steep hills of Valpo). The radios sway in the Pacific breeze, and chuff and stutter at one another as the fog rolls in to town in the evening. More photos to come soon, but here are a couple from the install, where I had help from an excellent group of installers, including Claudia, Paula (a bit blurry in action in the bottom photo) and head tech for the festival Rodrigo Ríos Zunino:

The piece is open daily November 26 – December 2, 2012, 10h-14h, 16h-22h.

I played the opening night of the festival at the Parque Cultural Valparaiso on Tuesday November 27, 20h. In addition to two stereo pairs of speakers, I also fired up the big transmitter to send to 20 radios suspended over the audience. Two more techie Rodrigos hung them all with the help of a shopping cart…. not pictured is the imperious little black and white feral cat who also followed them around.

Also this week, a new radio piece (50 minutes) unifying some of all the radio and timekeeping projects I’ve been working on for the past two years. It’s called Collecting clocks and losing time, and aired on Monday November 26 at 23h on Radio Valentín Letelier here in Valparaiso on 97.3FM/ 940AM. Here’s a little description:

Once upon a time there was a house on the countryside which housed a hundred clocks. Once upon a time the clocks in every house ran on their own time, and all the trains and hotels and shops had their own time. Once upon a time the time was made universal, divided into zones, and propagated around the globe: it was known as Mean Time. Once upon a time there were microwaves fired at a cesium-12 isotope, and the rate of electron loss dictated the most standardized time of all. Still there were digital devices that did not understand which time zone they lived in. Still everyone was late. Still the clocks began to slowly drag the seconds and minutes and hours behind them. Once upon a time the clocks burned in a fire. Now there are only five that remain.

Finally, I’m joining 3 other artists from the festival to give a short talk on Thursday, November 29, 17h, also at the Parque Cultural Valparaiso; mine perhaps predictably about radio, radio art, and everyday practice.

 



Five Times (less a hundred)


I have a new piece showing in Vancouver for the month of November, curated by Peter Courtemanche for An Audio Gallery, which is located at Lucky’s on Main Street.

It’s a 7-channel piece about collecting clocks and losing time, inspired by my late father’s love of cuckoo clocks. I’ve also been composing some radio works using the cuckoo clocks, so expect more cuckoo-cluck in the future.

Once upon a time there was a boy and his younger brother. They were visiting family on the countryside. One day they walked down the lane, past a field and a pasture, until they came to a little house. Inside lived an old lady, and her name was Mrs. Dane. When she opened the door and invited the two boys in, they discovered that her house was far from quiet. Inside the drawing room they saw that her walls were filled with clocks, all sorts of clocks, from floor to ceiling. The boy was especially drawn to the many cuckoo clocks that sang the time every half an hour. Where do they all come from, he asked her, and how do you wind them all? Oh they found me, she said, and sometimes it takes me the whole day to find the time. The boy never forgot Mrs. Dane and her house full of clocks. When he grew up and made his own way in the world, he traveled to a country with deep forests and high mountains, where cuckoo clocks made their home. He found them nesting in the trees, and he collected as many clocks as he could carry to bring home. Some flew away, some traveled by ship, and some were lost in a fire, but he kept as many as he could, and hung them on the walls in his drawing room. When he was an old man, there were just five left. He didn’t mind that the clocks would drift across the day. Their ticking kept him company, and lulled him to sleep at night.

Come and hear/see, Monday – Saturday 12h-18h, Sunday 12h-17h.

Lucky’s  3972 Main Street, Vancouver, British Columbia

Showing until December 9.

Special thanks to Peter Courtemanche for technical assistance.


Hard to tell in this grainy photo, but the lampshade is made of pink feathers.



The Joy Channel in Intimate Spaces


For those of you living close to Vienna, Austria, you can catch the second iteration of the Joy Channel (by me and Emmanuel Madan) at the Institute für Medienarchäologie Sound Galerie, during their current program Intime Räume/ Intimate Spaces in 5.1

The show is up from September 29, 2012 to January 17, 2013, at the Klosterhof Hainburg, Austria.

Guest curator and Kunstradio producer Elisabeth Zimmermann explains the whole program:

The point of departure for this series is the 5.1 radio art piece “Intimate Space” that was created by Andrea Sodomka in 2009 and which explores the themes of distance, communication, and intimacy on a poetic level. Broadcasting in 5.1 surround sound – not only pre-produced, but also live – has been technically feasible in Austria since 2004, when ORF – the first public radio station in Europe to broadcast live in the 5.1 format – aired the Kunstradio project Re-Inventing Radio on its Long Night of Radio Art. In 2005 Kunstradio invited the Swiss artist and sound architect Andres Bosshard to hold a workshop for artists. It took place at Studio RP4 at the Funkhaus station in Vienna, where back in 1990 the RP4 workshop had given artists access to the whole range of possibilities introduced by the then new Studio RP4 – digital radio-play studio. By the end of the 5.1 workshop Andres Bosshard had created “Zwischen Antares und Altair”, a piece in which he incorporated sounds one doesn’t usually hear, e.g. the warm-up exercises of a singer. Another piece that is based on private sounds and statements recorded by chance is “Sirenen, intim” by writer and director Lucas Cejpek. Whereas recording for “Sirenen, intim” also took place at Studio RP4 during the ORF radio-play production of “Sirenen” in 2005, for her piece “A Space of Translation” the Berlin-based visual artist Ines Lechleitner had no choice but to use a microphone hidden beneath her veil to record conversations and sounds in public space in Teheran in 2008. Fascinated by the Chinese culture of public spitting, the Colombian artist and filmmaker Margarita Jimeno plays with our aversion to spitting in “SPIT RADIO – Or the Road to Spitiskan”. By taking the perspective of a hostage, the German author Birgit Kempker exposes listeners to a completely different taboo in “Papa, short version”. The Austrian author and radio artist Peter Pessl carries us off to an inner sound landscape enhanced by recordings from Tibet, Nepal, and North India in “Re-Inventing Tibet”. And in their fictitious sci-fi radio art program “The Joy Channel” the Canadian artists Anna Friz and Emmanuel Madan concoct a world that tries to directly manipulate peoples’ feelings using experimental radio transmissions.



Isn’t it too hot for self-promotion?


Probably. So listen to this while wearing a nice cold shirt straight from the fridge (do not listen to electronic gadgets in the cold bath):

Measure the time taken— three pieces (2 new ones, and 1 older one I made with Eric Leonardson) created as part of my ongoing exploration about the perception and standardization of time through time keeping and recording, and radio. They explore the continuous, irregular present, suspended and stretched through habit and drift, and measured against the Futurist dream of time overcome. Published in issue 22 of No More Potlucks, a bilingual online and print on demand journal of politics, art and culture.

photo: Tom Blanchard

For those of you in Winnipeg, you can mosey on down to Plug-In Institute of Contemporary Art and catch Road Movie, installed until August 19, 2012. It’s a wonderful piece, conceived and directed by Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky aka Public Studio. My contribution was the film soundtrack and the sound installation design.

As for new work, I’m currently researching and experimenting with more time-related pieces under the working titles “One minute from now” and  “Zero Hour”, as well as slowly compiling an album’s worth of material to make available in the winter, and doing some writing about transmission art. Lots of travel coming up in the next year: Tsonami festival in Valparaiso Chile (Nov 2012), another short residency at ORF Kunstradio, Vienna (Dec 2012), performing in Evalyn Parry’s SPIN in Vancouver (April 2013), Heart as Arena on tour in Québec (end of April 2013), and a residency courtesy of Radio CONA in Ljubljana, Slovenia (Nov-Dec 2013).

 



Road Movie update


ROAD MOVIE continues at the 62nd Berlinale Film Festival 2012 until Feb 19.

If you’re in Berlin, you can view/listen daily from 11am-8pm at the Gutschow-Haus, Friedrichstrasse 17.

Ostensibly Road Movie is a film installation, but it has gradually expanded to include two related sound installations made with horn loudspeakers. For Berlin I added a new smaller horn mobile which expands certain sonic elements already present in the main film soundtrack. We also crafted a new horn configuration for the documentary material, something of a whispering gallery of diverse voices and opinions from the characters featured in the films, speaking about the segregated road system in the West Bank, and what such roads and landscape mean to the different people who live there. This second horn installation went into the basement in the Gutschow-Haus (see photo above), which once was school for magic, and is rumoured to be one of the few buildings in the area to have survived the bombings of WWII.



Road Movie goes to the Berlinale


all photos: Tom Blanchard, 2011

Road Movie, a multi-screen multi-channel film installation about the segregated road system in the West Bank, created and directed by Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky aka Public Studio, is opening next week at the Berlinale Film Festival. I composed the sound/music and designed the sound installation for the piece, which has some flexibility to adapt to each new space in which we show the work.

Road Movie is at the Gutschow-haus, Friedrichstraße 17, Berlin from 9. – 19. February, 2012, 11-20h daily.

Vernissage on 9. February at 17h.

Road Movie was also voted best Toronto art show of 2011 by NOW Magazine!



Road Movie


© Tom Blanchard 2011, Road Movie installation at O’Born Contemporary @ 51 Wolseley

I’ve been working like mad composing and designing the sound for Road Movie, a new multi-film installation by Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky, aka Public Studio, which opens today in Toronto as part of the official selection for the Toronto International Film Festival. Three large double-sided screens show 12 short films about the segregated road system in the West Bank, to the accompanying soundscape which I’ve composed from field recordings, and my odd little stack of instruments, including some nice little mbira beats and harmonica drones. Near the door a small mobile of horn loudspeakers emits the various perspectives of Palestinians and Jewish settlers with whom Elle and Tamira drove the different roads. Watch the trailer here.

Public Studio explains what it’s all about:

In 2009, we went to live in Palestine for a year in order to get a better understanding of the situation on the ground. Flanders, who was raised in Jerusalem, felt that in order to really connect with people and daily life, she needed to live inside Palestine, not just visit. Sawatzky had become interested in the architectural aspects of life under Occupation and together they decided to make a film that looked from the inside out. While much work exists about all aspects of this particular conflict, we approached this from another dimension– we take you, the viewer, into the landscape, into the land in meticulous detail, and allow you to move around in an installation, to give you an immersive and contemplative experience. We shot our films in stop-motion animation, a technique that allowed us to capture, frame by frame, the minutia of this often over-exposed place. Like surveyors, we track the land step by step, taking you with us into each frame.

The piece is produced by the National Film Board of Canada, and O’born Contemporary Gallery, Toronto. Those of you in Toronto can experience it for yourselves at 51 Wolseley Street, 5th floor (across the street from Theatre Passe-Maraille, near Bathurst and Queen W), September 8-18, 2011. Hours: Sun-Thurs, 12-6PM, Fri-Sat, 12-9PM.

© Tom Blanchard 2011, Road Movie installation at O’Born Contemporary @ 51 Wolseley



Heavy breathing at the Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago


I’m hanging my multi-channel radio installation Respire at the Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) in Chicago this week, with the opening reception coming up on Friday July 15, 6PM-9PM. My good friend and partner in sonic crime Eric Leonardson will be joining me to play at the opening, where we’ll each improvise with the radio world of the installation. Respire will stay up until August 7, and will continue to change as I meddle with the transmitter configurations, composition, and interference potential. ESS has kindly let me use their Audible Gallery as a project space for the duration of the show, so I can continue my research into multi-channel radio systems. Gallery hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5PM, or by appointment during the week. You can email me here as well and see when I’ll be in the gallery if you want to hang out and move antennas.

Here’s a short description of the piece:

Respire is an intimate experience of radio transmission, featuring a multi-channel array of suspended radio receivers and micro-watt transmitters. Sounds of breathing and other bodily exclamations typically absent from regular radio programming seep up through the welter of signals, as the receivers play and emit their own oscillating frequencies. This milieu of harmonic interference and uneasy nighttime respirations reveals the invisible contours of the radio landscape that surrounds us. Other sounds are created from instruments that echo human breath (harmonica) or the detuned radio landscape (theremin).

UPDATE:

The space is very intimate–a little sun-dappled box 6m x 6m. For the opening I blacked out the windows and lit the radios with small LED lights, but later on during the installation, I removed the blacks and lights to return the installation to “daytime mode”. New to the array this time around were the chirps and sounds of satellites, which were remarkably insectoid. Much like the similarity between human breath and static, the satellites-as-insects or frogs are striking for the way electro-magnetic and organic phenomena can sound so similar.

Eric Leonardson took a picture during the install: that’s me on a ladder, hanging radios once more…..

This work supported by a post-doctoral fellowship from Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture Québec.



Radiaator


I have a piece in the listening room at the first ever Radiaator Festival in Tallinn, Estonia March 17-18, 2011. I’ve sent them a remix of Pirate Jenny, called “The Clandestine Transmissions of Pirate Jenny: Are you one of us?”

Some great live performers will be making noise and radio, including Felix Kubin, Sarah Washington and Knut Aufermann, Paul Devens, Neboisa Milikic, Eesti Elekter, LokaalRaadio, and EleOnora.

If you’re near Tallinn, you can listen on 107.2 FM, or head down to EKKM, the Estonian Museum of Contemporary Art.