Upcoming conferences…


I have the honour of giving the keynote speech at the gala evening of the National Campus/Community Radio Conference, the yearly gathering for the National Campus and Community Radio Association here in Canada. Takes place June 15, 2012, in Kingston, Ontario, hosted by the mighty CFRC 101.9FM, who are also celebrating their 90th anniversary of radiophonic activity. I’ll be talking about resonant versus radiant paradigms for radio, illustrated by speculations and curiousities regarding the Radio of the Future, including the search for extraterrestrial life, whales, and some little people stuck inside the black box. You know, my usual pet topics.  I’m also sitting on a panel about radio art from 15h-17h, with Darren Copeland of New Adventures in Sound Art and Montréal artist Andrea-Jane Cornell.

Then I’m zooming off to London, England for the Supersonix Conference, hosted by the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts Europe, and Exhibition Road Cultural Group, June 21-23, 2012. I’ll be giving a paper entitled “A Noisy Field of Relations: Radiophonic art and vital materialism”.



L’art radiophonique en circulation


The original adventures of the little people in the radio (starring Pirate Jenny) continue to circulate…. the new mix I made last year of my 2002 radio work The Clandestine Transmissions of Pirate Jenny is currently featured over on Le Tétraèdre, a weekly experimental radio program on Radio Panik 105.4 FM in Bruxelles. Live to air Wednesday 23, as show #17d. February 23h GMT +1, but since that was yesterday, you can also listen here.

I also recently completed an interview with Etienne Noiseau of the excellent French radio art site Syntone, read it (en français) here.

UPDATE:

Vacant City Radio was featured on CKUT Montreal’s ESL program, as part of a show on transmission which also includes interviews with ham radio ops. Aired in Montreal February 28, 2012, 23h. Listen to the podcast or download here.



Tuner, live on Kunstradio


Sunday, December 4, 2011, 23h (GMT+1)

I’ll be performing live in the studios of ORF Kunstradio, the long-running radio art program heard weekly on Ö1, the cultural channel of Austria’s national public radio. The live stream will connect from the home page here, and the show will be documented and streamable afterwards from the show page here.

It’s a brand new series of studies on radio and timekeeping, called Tuner:

A radio receiver, designed for mass production and consumption, invites a small narrative reflecting some aspect of radio’s changing cultural reference over the past century: I am the future, I am mobile, I am young, I am a connection with the world, I am a safety precaution, I am cheap, I am common, I am invisible, I am obsolete. Likewise, the graphic design of each dial represents an ideology of the radio spectrum, proposing time in frequency, and space in territory. Some dials are linear, filled with the names of cities, while other dials are perfectly round, referencing radar and precisely regulated atomic time.

Tuner is a suite of short pieces, performed live, which uses the graphical design of radio dials as music and event scores. Radios have been used as instruments and played in works such as George Brecht’s “Candle Piece for Radios” (1959), and offer a strong element of indeterminacy to brief performative moments. What will a radio reveal when used to generate the score itself?

Acting as frame and theme for this round of Tuner pieces is a sample from WWV,  a station devoted to broadcasting time signals since 1923, and Coordinated Universal Time (Greenwich Mean) since 1967. Based in Fort Collins Colorado, near the laboratories that maintain the U.S. national standards of time and frequencies, WWV currently broadcasts time according to a cesium atomic clock, or time as dictated by the regular decay of the isotope cesium-133.

This time around I have chosen to interpret the dials or tuner plates of one vacuum tube radio (1953) and two transistor radios (mid 1960s) as scores. Not accidentally, these radios are products of the post-war economy, whose design promises precision, safety, and a little technical sophistication for the domestic sphere. The pieces I will perform based on these dials are improvised studies contributing to a larger body of work on radio and timekeeping, so for this set of works I read and interpret the radio dials as referring to frequency, or, the rate of something happening.

But even against the precision of atomic time, events wander away from regularity, and musicality is hiding both in the accompanying tones and in the landscape of static which threaten to consume all sonic details at any time. How to read the radio dial? Someone is counting, someone is keeping score: something happens, and then something happens.

I won’t be using the beautiful Hallicrafters radio dial (shown above) in this set of pieces–but it’s my next project in the series. I love the shortwave radios with the names of cities and countries; I especially love the incongruence of “USSR” and “Edmonton” placed cheek to cheek on the dial. That dial is a symphony of craziness to decode, though, and I’m maybe not up for doing that one live yet. I’ve opted instead for simpler numeric dials for the first time out, but chosen ones which are still demonstrative of Cold War/atomic era wireless architecture.

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



Heart as Arena: Love and radio


photo: Yannick Grandmot

I’ve had the great pleasure to be working with Dana Gingras and her dance company Animals of Distinction on a new piece called Heart as Arena.

Here’s a little teaser of what we’re up to:

How far is far away? Wireless transmission is a paradox of intimacy and distance. In “Out of the Dark: Notes on the Nobodies of Radio Art” (1992), Gregory Whitehead writes that radio involves “staging an intricate game of position, a game that unfolds among far-flung bodies, for the most part unknown to each other”. For Heart as Arena, this game of position involves bodies and radios playing on stage, bodies in the audience, signals passing through the theatre from local or distant stations as well as mobile phones and wireless systems on all bands, the built environment of the city and its electrical currents. Using a multi-channel micro-watt radio system, radio becomes a frame for a series of relationships, near and far, where visible gestures meet invisible electro-magnetic interactions;  a circuit built, played with, and played within.

We are immersed daily in a welter of signal, so tonight our interest centers on resonant bodies traversing the volatile nocturnal radio landscape in search of elusive union, tuning in to songs full of desire for love and comfort, the most mortal dreams of all. Bodies serve as antennas, and receivers become transmitters. What we find is that there is no such thing as dead air: the radio landscape is alive though connections are fragile and prone to interference, urgently vibrating with activity, temporary but resonantly human.

The work is conceived and choreographed by Dana Gingras, and features performers Sarah Doucet (Toronto), Shay Kuebler (Vancouver), Amber Funk Barton (Vancouver), Masaharu Imazu (Montreal/Japan) and Dana Gingras (Vancouver/Montreal). Creative collaborators include radio artist Anna Friz (Montreal/Chicago), sound and lighting artist Mikko Hynninen (Finland), dramaturge Ruth Little (England).

Now Showing: Oct 4,5,6,7,8  2011  Buy Tickets @ The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street Vancouver, BC  Box Office: 604-251-1363

As you may guess, there are lots of radios in this show, beautiful transistors from the mid-’60s to the late-’70s. A veritable landscape of radios, as well as a landscape of radio sound. I’ll post more photos once we arrive in Vancouver. For me this is a wonderful opportunity to extend the work with multi-channel radio sculpture into a theatre setting, so radios act as environment, sculpture, and scenography; while the material conditions of radiophonic communication have been physicalized in the choreography.

For those not in Vancouver, fear not! Heart as Arena will be touring to many Canadian cities in the next year, including Ottawa (National Arts Centre), Montréal (L’Agora de la danse), Edmonton, Lennoxville, Quebec City, and hopefully points beyond.

Check out some press: preview here, and review here.



“For the time being” goes to Kunstradio, and does some blowing in the wind


I am super pleased to join in the stream from cOL-mE (co-located media expedition), Bratislava, who are part of a group of artist collectives working on the Time Inventors’ Kabinet. By the time you read this, the stream will already have played my piece For the time being and moved on to other interesting works, but do tune in from September 6-11, 2011 for daily casts, including people like my good friend and collaborator Peter Courtemanche in Vancouver. The TIK art-radio is streaming an art-radio program scheduled according to wind time, that is to say, according to the behaviour of the wind rather than the rotation of the earth in relationship to the sun or the moon:

 TIK is a project, an interest into ecology and media art, a collaborative experiment with time …
taking an ecological approach to observing patterns in time and time control systems…
the creative tools we build to generate new audio and visual artworks and mediate a creative discourse on ecological time …
an ‘horloge a vent'(wind clock), an imaginary time keeping device regulated by the irregular movement of the wind …
workshops, art radio sessions, public access digital media archive, public presentations, conferences and exhibitions, a critical publication … ‘re-inventing ecological time’… 

In addition to wind time being a wonderfully irregular and changeable measurement of time, the TIK project makes some really poetic proposals, such as the possibility that people thousands of kilometres apart geographically might share the same wind time zone, or the idea that when the wind is still, time stops. 

I was really excited to discover this project, as it fits so nicely with the research I’ve undertaken since last year on radio and timekeeping. I’m interested to understand the role radio played in the atomization of time, and wonder how the same medium can be implicated in forms of micro-local time. For the time being was the first piece from what promises to be a series of works for broadcast, narrowcast, live performance, and installation.

Meanwhile, For the time being aired on a recent Kunstradio show on August 28 (but remains online, so you can still check it out). Also included: a mix of Respire for broadcast, and two pieces from the Short Horizon series. I’ll be heading over to Vienna to do a live show in December this year, so stay tuned for that too.



A sampler of recent Canadian radio art


This Sunday on ORF Kunstradio, the long-running program on Austrian public radio devoted to radio art and experimentation on-air, online, and on-site, I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to curate a program of recent works by some very talented artists.

Tune in or stream in Sunday August 21 from 23h CEDT (GMT +2, with daylight savings time) and hear the likes of these:

Martine H. Crispo presents a live set from her show Chaud pour le mont-stone, heard on CKUT FM in Montreal

Stephen Kelly and Eleanor King let us eavesdrop on a radio installation entitled Radio Roam

Andrea-Jane Cornell explores the world of recorded telephone conversations

Tomas Phillips and s* consider the insides and outsides of a body in motion

and Debashis Sinha retells the experience of the Buddha under the bodhi tree.

Sunday August 28 I’ll be back on Kunstradio doing a solo show with some early material from an ongoing series on radio and timekeeping. I will be re-airing For the time being (2010), as well as some other rhythmic sketches of this and that.



Is that a big antenna or are you just happy to see me?


Yup, I made the move to the Chicagoland, where towers loom and their antennas have girth. I’ll be based in here for the next two years, working on my post-doctoral fellowship at the School of the Art Institute, Sound department, thanks to the generous funding of the Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture Québec (FQRSC). Still waiting to defend the dissertation, but it won’t be long now. Dr. Itinerant Friz will soon be on the case.

I’ll be getting out and about this summer, too, as part of my research will take me to ORF Kunstradio to develop some new pieces. (Actually I’m just going for the wine and the cake–ssshhhh.)



Outside the Box


Jay Needham curated an evening of radio art pieces and surround sound works on Saturday April 2, 2011  for the Outside the Box New Music Festival, a festival of sound and music at the University of Southern Illinois, Carbondale, Illinois. My good friend and collaborator Eric Leonardson was on hand to play live, and the rest of us contributed our works remotely for the surround listening experience…. the “rest of us being” Dinahbird, Ron Coulter, Zoe Irvine, Jean-Phillipe Renoult, Barry Truax, and myself.

I had hoped to come down and play in person, but I was in the middle of moving down to Chicago and couldn’t bend my head around anything other than boxes, so I sent along the remix of Pirate Jenny which just played in Estonia at Radiaator last month. Jay had a nice setup to play the radio pieces back through a muster of radios, and I’m super pleased to have Pirate Jenny in circulation again. I really think it’s time that she came out of hibernation and started up some new trouble. What have those little people in the radio been doing for the past few years anyway??? Stay tuned….



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.



“For the time being” premieres at Äänen Lumo


linnunlaulu_bridgephoto courtesy of Tuuli Kyttälä

I was commissioned by curator Kimmo Modig of the Äänen Lumo: Festival of New Sounds in Helsinki to create a new piece for radio and performance about Helsinki, without visiting the city. You’ve never been here? Oh good, he said, please don’t come. But we have some keen sound design students from the Theatre Academy who will be your agents in this enterprise, who will record what you ask, and perform what your score.

For the time being is the result–the first in what will eventually be a series of works about transmission and timekeeping. Five people live here. One person lives seven timezones away and has never been here. How can time and place be heard and shared across blind distance? For the time being explores the subjective rhythms of micro-local time and experience against the standardization of ‘universal time’ in broadcast media. This piece records time passing in Helsinki, measured in both the regulated time that otherwise rules our lives through mediated timekeeping via watches, mobile phones, radio, television, train schedules, and in the polyrhythms of the city at dawn and dusk.

I sent my five agents (Ina Aaltojarvi, Roy Boswell, Ilpo Heikkinen, Tuuli Kyttälä, and Johannes Vartolaout) once a month for four months (beginning June 21, 2010) to a location of their choosing in Helsinki at either sunset or sunrise to record the ambience. They were also asked to count passing moments aloud, based on the rhythm of some characteristic element of their chosen site. Finally, they recorded some incidences of time-keeping from broadcast media heard in Helsinki. Once I received their recordings and sound journals from each recording session, I crafted a score, with some rules attached to it, which the five agents (under the name Suomen Teatteriorkesteri) will be performing for the opening of Äänen Lumo in Helsinki on Monday, November 8, 2010. Meanwhile, I’m making a composed piece called For the time being (clock radio mix) to air on the Finnish national radio station YLE.

The Suomen Teatteriorkesteri will be performing in a darkened cinema, with a mix of raw and modulated field recordings and auxilliary electronics. The score does not dictate treatment or duration of each section, and performers may make choices as to whether or not they will overlap sections.

For the time being, performance score (2010)

time (media, solo)
mic handling
time (media, duet)
clear sky
multitudes of birds
time (chorus)
rhythm (small droplets of water)
everybody’s just passing me by
sneaky listening of people talking
talk to someone
wind, water
time (solo)
time (chorus)
train
all the people are missing
animals
rhythm (tiny insects are flying in the air)
the place seems even a bit more familiar this time, as though it was expecting me
time (solo or chorus)

For those of you in Finland, you can tune in to the broadcast of live and taped pieces on Mon 15 Nov, 10:05-11:05pm on Ääniversumi radio show, Yle Radio 1. It will remain online for Finnish listeners only for some time afterward, so look for a podcast or audio file.