The Joy Channel


joy_channel_cd_label1Created together with Emmanuel Madan, The Joy Channel is an experimental audio/radio performance and composition for broadcast which contemplates a possible scenario for radio 150 years in the future.

Two versions of the The Joy Channel have been developed to date: a theatrical live performance which premiered at Radio Tesla’s RadioVisionen: 250 Years of Radio in Berlin, October 2007, and a broadcast work (in stereo and 5.1 surround) was commissioned by ORF Kunstradio and aired in May 2008 (Kunstradio is a radio art program heard weekly on the cultural channel of the national public radio of Austria).The 5.1 version was part of an audio art exhibition entitled Aural Cinemas at eikonos NFS Bildkritik in Basel, Switzerland, and will soon be touring with the sonic-cinema event ((audience)) in various North American cities.

The live performance of The Joy Channel (Berlin) drew upon the techniques and aesthetics of experimental music, transmission art, spoken word, and live radio theatre (where all the techniques of creation that are invisible to a radio audience are potentially visible to the live audience in the venue; including the artists performing the voices, the foley effects, and music). Friz and Madan then composed a radiophonic version of the piece in 5.1 surround for ORF Kunstradio.

The futuristic context for The Joy Channel is as follows:

In the year 2146, after nearly 150 years of business as usual (government corruption and privatization, toxic resource extraction and industrial practices, bad weather, civil uprising, earthquakes and pandemic), approximately 40 million people remain in New North America.

Although originally developed as a psychiatric home tele-treatment procedure for long-term depression patients, the entertainment potential of transmitting emotions over radio frequencies is soon monopolized by corporate broadcasters. Hi-Zenith Inc, based in Fortress Alaska, begins broadcasting pure standardized emotions to the general public on The Joy Channel®. This sudden domination of the EM (formerly FM) radio spectrum encroaches upon another, more arcane radiophonic pratice: radio-empathic communion. Wandering in the relative silence of wasted urban and ex-urban spaces in the central continent, small communities of empaths had begun to form and to reach out to one another. They discovered that the FM radio spectrum, largely abandoned during the upheavals that accompanied the population collapse of the late 21st century, was open ground for a type of communication not yet experienced in human history: tele-empathy. These neo-nomads developed the sensitivity to feel one another across greater and greater distances without the use of transmitters or receivers. Their process is rudely interrupted when Hi-Zenith’s standardized emotional broadcasts go live to air from coast to coast.

A final CD version of the piece is currently in production in fall 2011-winter 2012, produced by /Undefine, Montréal.

Many thanks to the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and Canada Council for the Arts for supporting our Berlin production in 2007, and to free103point9.org for supporting the creation of the third version of The Joy Channel with an AIRtime residency at the Wave Farm in Acra, NY in winter 2012.

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