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).


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.


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.

Extremity Cassette at the AGYU

image by Bette Burgoyne

Peter Coutemanche (Absolute Value of Noise) and I made a little generative piece for Art’s Birthday back in 2009. We’ve redone the mix to play during Art’s Birthday 2011 and beyond as part of the Art Gallery of York University‘s ongoing “Audio Out” exhibition: which basically means infiltrating the hallway near the gallery with sounds to soothe (or aurally poke) the passing student.

Here’s the project description:

Extremity Cassette is a generative audio piece that imagines samples on a near-endless stretch of audio tape. Wound through a complex, multi-head cassette machine, the samples overlap with themselves, repeat, vanish and reappear. The magnetic nature of the machine itself picks up noises from the ether and mixes them with free reed and heterodyne sounds.

Inspired by the short story The White Death by Stanislaw Lem, where a planet made entirely of inorganic material is the crystalline host to fabulous machines, Extremity Cassette imagines a prehistoric mechanism that loops and churns out a never ending, ever changing musical score. Until one day the organic world is introduced … then rust interferes with the workings of the cassette … the sounds become progressively more erratic, and eventually stop.

Originally composed for Art’s Birthday, 17 January 2009, Extremity Cassette will play at the AGYU for Art’s Birthday 2011 from 5 January – 20 March 2011.

Peter Courtemanche (Absolute Value of Noise): VLF Antenna and Receiver
Anna Friz: Theremin, Harmonica, Kazoo, Melodica

The Leona Drive project

Domestic Wireless, Dust. was showing as part of the Leona Drive Project here in Willowdale (metro Toronto) which just closed on   October 31. My piece was installed in the upper bedroom at Leona 9…. DWD_blue_web

…you’ll have to imagine the little drones and susurrations of radios, as they transmit the signals of wireless life past and present that pass through the house.

The Leona Drive project is  a site-specific exhibition in a series of six vacant bungalows slated for demolition by Hyatt Homes, a developer in Willowdale, Ontario (in the Yonge and Finch area of Greater Toronto). The exhibition artists will be working in a variety of media: audio, radiophonic interceptions, architectural installation, projection, photography, sculpture and performance for a period of two weeks, from October 22nd – 31st 2009. The overall problematic for the exhibition is the remarkable shift from the suburbs of old to the suburbs of contemporary Canada, namely the neighborhoods and precincts of the multicultural, but nonetheless parsed state.Through the Leona Drive project, we are investigating recent developments in suburbia where new patterns of community and conscience operate. 

We sadly packed up the little Leona houses behind yesterday, boarding them back up after an amazing run. The turn-out for the duration of the show was really enthusiastic, and my favourite part was being the greeter/information person in the entrance hallway of Leona 9, hearing people’s stories of living in similar houses and their impressions of the works. 

Respire at Nuit Blanche Toronto, 2009

Well, the all-night frenzy of Nuit Blanche is over for another year, and my radio installation Respire had a steady line-up of visitors through the night. Toronto area artist and photographer Tom Blanchard took some marvelous photographs of the piece:



Building up “Respire” for Nuit Blanche


Yes indeed, Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s all-night art event is fast approaching, and I’m busy preparing to hang the big radio array in Zone B (in the lobby at 100 Yonge Street to be precise). Trevor Schwellnus is designing my rigging plan, and we’ll all be up and down ladders for a few nights later this week. 

But here, just to prove that art can still be a lot like working in factory… Trevor and I spent two days tying radios onto cable so we can get it all in the sky and then let down each radio on it’s little thread. Phew.