Solar Radio at Wave Farm


photo by Patrick McCormack

Solar Radio, which I worked on together with Absolute Value of Noise aka Peter Courtemanche has now been installed in the Wave Farm outdoor sculpture park as a permanent addition.

We created Solar Radio/Embodied Radio Device as an album release in 2020, and this present permanent installation expands on both Peter’s Solar Radio design and the sonic world of the small artificial intelligence that Solar Radio enables. Here’s what this version is all about:

Some years in the future, or perhaps in a surplus version of the present, a solar-powered artificial intelligence wakes with the sun. Its body is a small radio tower with solar cells and a modest signal. With sufficient solar intensity it powers up and responds to the environment, playing with simple AI sound synthesis algorithms in an attempt to imitate and broadcast what it senses nearby, such as insects, birds, frogs, wind, falling rain, changing weather, or magnetic phenomena. It hums and sings, perhaps accompanying a chorus of crickets or a passing bear, perhaps transmitting a memory of a bird from the recent or distant past and the song it sang then. The human culture that created this small artificial intelligence may have changed radically or may no longer exist, but it continues its sonic explorations, generating and remembering sounds, and transmitting signals to the inhabitants of its immediate animate world.

In our present, the Wave Farm realization of Solar Radio is an outdoor sound installation featuring a small artificial intelligence mounted to a short radio tower which wakes with the sun and sleeps when the light grows dim. It monitors the seasons and the amount of energy available to it through its solar cells, generating an evolving composition in response to environmental conditions. Listeners may access Solar Radio at wavefarm.org/listen and will also encounter it woven into Wave Farm’s terrestrial radio transmission, WGXC 90.7-FM.

The AI is keenly aware of the state of its energy source – the electronics know when the solar panel is in full sun or in the shade, or blocked by clouds. It can change its behavior, and switches its circuitry to draw out the power in different ways. The resulting generative sound reflects the mood of the AI and its perception of the outside world that changes with the cycle of seasons. Low energy waking-up audio consists of tones or tone-poems made of combinations of simple waveforms. As more energy becomes available, the AI can also better observe its fluctuations and add more complicated computed sounds into the mix when the energy levels are high enough and stable; it may also develop an earworm, or fixate on a remembered sound for a time.

Solar Radio proposes a different way of thinking about and relating to electrical power and small-scale computational systems. It moves away from the idea of power being instant and ubiquitous. Technologically, it embraces its limitations rather than combating them within the rhythms of the environment and the sun. It also speculates on relationships between artificial intelligence and the world that could take place beyond human intention or control.

This project is made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional travel support for Anna from the Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship.

photo by Patrick McCormack



Radiophrenia 2022


Radiophrenia has launched, the excellent radio art project in Glasgow, heard on FM, on-site and online from February 7-20, 2022, transmitting from the Centre for Contemporary Art.

I have a couple of collaborative projects broadcasting as part of the overnight slots: the NRRF Radio Collective‘s We Interrupt This Broadcast (2021) and my ongoing collaboration with Absolute Value of Noise/Peter Courtemanche on the project Solar Radio (which will also soon be a permanent installation at Wave Farm in Upper Hudson Valley in 2022).

Tune in:

February 12, 2022 01:00-05:00 and February 16, 2022 03:00-04:30 Glasgow time for Solar Radio

February 8, 2022 0:00-02:00 and February 11, 2022 05:00-07:00 Glasgow time for We Interrupt This Broadcast



Extremity Cassette on Radio Tsonami


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 overnight from June 1-7, 2021 on Radio Tsonami, originating from Valparaíso, Chile.

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



More Radiophrenia!


I have a number of radio art works (collaborations all!) in the current edition of Radiophrenia (2019). Tune in May 19-26, 2019 to listen to the full schedule of radio art from around the world.

May 21, 2019 17-17:30 Glasgow time (GMT +1): Embodied Radio Device created by Absolute Value of Noise and Anna Friz

May 23, 2019 2:00-7:00 (GMT +1): Embodied Radio Device (long form for overnight listening).

May 24, 2019 14:40-15:00 (GMT +1): Radiation Day: A Conversation with Anna Friz; interview by Earlid‘s Joan Schuman.

May 24, 2019 16:00-16:50 (GMT +1): The Joy Channel created by Anna Friz and Emmanuel Madan

Radiophrenia is a temporary art radio station organized by Mark Vernon and Barry Burns– a two-week exploration into current trends in sound and transmission arts. Broadcasting live from Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts, the station aims to promote radio as an art form, encouraging challenging and radical new approaches to the medium.



Embodied Radio Device


Art’s Birthday” is an annual event first proposed in 1963 by French artist Robert Filliou. One million years ago on January 17, someone dropped a dry sponge into a bucket of water. And so, art was born. Filliou proposed a public holiday to celebrate the presence of art in our lives. In recent years, the idea has been taken up by a loose network of artists and friends around the world who exchange audiovisual parties, first via the post, telephone, fax, and later internet streams and public radio satellite. Each year the Eternal Network evolves to include new partners – working with the ideas of exchange and telecommunications art.

This year, I’ve joined Absolute Value of Noise to realize the Embodied Radio Device, a generative radio stream which supposes an Artificial Intelligence that is trying to recreate the sounds of life in its immediate environment – imitating the sounds of insects, birds, frogs, magnetic phenomena, the wind moving through the trees, rain falling, and waves on the ocean. The humans play along with various forms of synthesis. Listen online until January 18, 2019. AI constructed by Absolute Value of Noise, using his Solar Radio outdoor installation which responds to sun exposure and environmental factors, and I’ve provided some accompanying ‘human synthesizer’ and assorted radiophonic/acoustic grit.

Tune in– best accompanied with cake. Happy Art’s Birthday! Remember: the End is just pretend!



Winter at 65.25° North


Friz_window_wet

Winter returns, which was a bit of a shock when I encountered it in the Toronto airport, traveling from midsummer in Chile to land in -22 celcius in Toronto. Now a month later, my tan is pretty much gone, and wearing long johns every day just seems normal again. The winter gusts blew me further north, even, to a work/retreat period back in Iceland, in Seydisfjördur, on the far east coast. Here I’m back at Skálar | Sound Art | Experimental Music HQ, to develop some exciting new work which involves field recording, pinhole cameras, turning a small empty house into a sound sculpture and/or radio station, and (tangentially) knitting a lot. Many thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts for sending me here and funding the research and preliminary production!

It may be dark and cold, but radio continues. ZimaFM/radioCONA Ljubljana broadcast my five-hour Uncoordinated Universal Time (2014) piece, an exercise in suspending time by manipulating the zero hour of the atomic clock, designed for overnight listening; Radiophrenia will be broadcasting the piece as well in April 2015 from the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow. Mobile Radio did a retrospective of their Mobile Radio Bienniale Sao Paulo programming as part of the 12 Days of Radio Art on London’s Resonance FM, which included some back episodes of my M.O.L.E.C.A.S.T. BSP series.

framework radio episode 496 incorporated a number of tracks from Somewhere a Voice is Calling — a piece about early radio and the first transAtlantic broadcast of the human voice by Reginald Fessenden in 1906, by myself, Absolute Value of Noise, and Glenn Gear. Listen to the whole show and also catch some other choice bits of phonography and experimental music, mixed by host Patrick McGinley.
You can also listen to (and buy your very own copy!) of Somewhere a Voice is Calling online here.

Coming up you can catch me and Konrad Korabiewski performing Telefunken Twins live in the ORF Kunstradio studios on April 12, 2015, featuring, among many other sounds and instruments, two particularly stylish Telefunken Bajazzo transistor radio/cassette machines.

Finally, I’ve just completed a new commissioned work for Radio Arts on the topic Dreamlands. My piece is called Two Sleepsa work about dreams of air and water, rising and falling. It premieres on Resonance FM in London on April 15, 2015, 9pm GMT. It will stream from the Radio Arts website after that.

Happy winter from the slopes of the morse mountain!

morse_mountain_thru_window

 

 

 



If not winter…. then birthday!


hotr2photo by Julie Shapiro

Who’s Art? Oh, THAT art.

Art’s Birthday” is an annual event first proposed in 1963 by French artist Robert Filliou. One million and fifty years ago today, someone dropped a dry sponge into a bucket of water. And so, art was born. Filliou proposed a public holiday to celebrate the presence of art in our lives. In recent years, the idea has been taken up by a loose network of artists and friends around the world. Each year the Eternal Network evolves to include new partners – working with the ideas of exchange and telecommunications-art.

This year it’s the 1,000,050th birthday of art, and I’m getting back into party mode here in Chicago.

First off, running a stream together with absolute value of noise of our newly recomposed generative piece Somewhere a voice is calling. We have rethought the piece as a composition and stream, now made with new material, though the concept remains the same: an exploration of the first broadcasts of the human voice into the transmission ecology over radio by Reginald Fessenden and others beginning in 1906.

Stream runs January 16-18, 2013, and you can listen in here.

Meanwhile, live and fueled by too much sugar, I’ll be hanging out today at the Experimental Sound Studio, which hosts the radio collaboration NRRF Radio in the Audible Gallery from 2pm to 8pm, January 17 (GMT -6).  5925 N. Ravenswood, Chicago.

Transmitting to the neighbourhood and the world via FM and stream LISTEN LIVE HERE.

We’ll be listening and exchanging with any and all birthday streams circulating internationally, and do our best to infiltrate available bands with tenacious earworms and parasitic refrains, powered of course by lurid birthday cake. Glue Banta, Jonny Farrow, Anna Friz, Stephen Germana, Jeff Kolar, Peter Speer, and guests bring the noise.

Drop in, tune in, eat cake. Happy Art’s Birthday! The End is just pretend!



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