A little bird told me…


Some news from the Uhrwald, where cuckoos nest at night: I’m very pleased and honoured to have been awarded second place in the Prix Palma Ars Acoustica 2014 for Collecting Clocks and Losing Time (2013), a feature-length radio art composition created in 5.1 surround sound for ORF Kunstradio, on the Austrian national public radio.

Collecting Clocks and Losing Time is part of a body work I’ve been developing over the past four years of iterative experiments with radio and timekeeping, and includes Studio Time (2013), 5 Times (less a hundred) (2012), Measure the time taken (2011), For the time being (2010), and the ongoing project Zero Hour. This piece has some special emotional resonance for me, as it was composed around recordings of my late father’s cuckoo clocks, one of which was broken in such a way as to eternally cuckoo until the escapement runs out. In addition to the individual eccentricities of these clocks, the work features manipulations of the atomic clock, or coordinated universal time as broadcast globally on shortwave frequencies. It would be fair to say I’ve been obsessed with broadcast time since the mid-1990s, and since making Collecting Clocks and Losing Time, I have continued my focused manipulations of clocks in longer form works for overnight broadcast, particularly the 5-hour work Uncoordinated Universal Time (2014).

Five Times (less a hundred)

I have a new piece showing in Vancouver for the month of November, curated by Peter Courtemanche for An Audio Gallery, which is located at Lucky’s on Main Street.

It’s a 7-channel piece about collecting clocks and losing time, inspired by my late father’s love of cuckoo clocks. I’ve also been composing some radio works using the cuckoo clocks, so expect more cuckoo-cluck in the future.

Once upon a time there was a boy and his younger brother. They were visiting family on the countryside. One day they walked down the lane, past a field and a pasture, until they came to a little house. Inside lived an old lady, and her name was Mrs. Dane. When she opened the door and invited the two boys in, they discovered that her house was far from quiet. Inside the drawing room they saw that her walls were filled with clocks, all sorts of clocks, from floor to ceiling. The boy was especially drawn to the many cuckoo clocks that sang the time every half an hour. Where do they all come from, he asked her, and how do you wind them all? Oh they found me, she said, and sometimes it takes me the whole day to find the time. The boy never forgot Mrs. Dane and her house full of clocks. When he grew up and made his own way in the world, he traveled to a country with deep forests and high mountains, where cuckoo clocks made their home. He found them nesting in the trees, and he collected as many clocks as he could carry to bring home. Some flew away, some traveled by ship, and some were lost in a fire, but he kept as many as he could, and hung them on the walls in his drawing room. When he was an old man, there were just five left. He didn’t mind that the clocks would drift across the day. Their ticking kept him company, and lulled him to sleep at night.

Come and hear/see, Monday – Saturday 12h-18h, Sunday 12h-17h.

Lucky’s  3972 Main Street, Vancouver, British Columbia

Showing until December 9.

Special thanks to Peter Courtemanche for technical assistance.

Hard to tell in this grainy photo, but the lampshade is made of pink feathers.