For the time being

linnunlaulu_bridge photo courtesy of Tuuli Kyttälä

Radio art performance and broadcast (2010)

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) performed for the opening of Äänen Lumo in Helsinki on Monday, November 8, 2010. Meanwhile, I composed a piece called For the time being (clock radio mix) from their recorded material as well as sounds I recorded from shortwave radio, which then aired on the Finnish national radio station YLE.

The Suomen Teatteriorkesteri  performed 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)
all the people are missing
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.