“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)
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.

Coming soon…. 300 Tapes!

The Wire #320 on Radio Art

cover320The October 2010 issue of the Wire features a cover article by fellow radio art enthusiast Knut Aufermann. There’s a very nice mention of my recent radio installations, as well as other excellent artists and projects like the international independent radio art network Radia FM, Tetsuo Kogawa, Reboot FM, Radioerevan, and many more.

News from the dissertation cave….


Radio listening continues, even when the chips are down and the doctoral dissertation must be finished. This little baby doesn’t actually receive any nearby stations, but the white noise is sublime.

Lots of good news for future projects, however:

I have received generous post-doctoral funding from the Fonds de recherche de la société et la culture (FQRSC) in Québec which will allow me to spend two years in Chicago at the School of the Art Institute. I’ll be moving stateside in April 2011 to get that rolling, and look forward to hanging out with the distinguished sound geeks there, including my long-time collaborator Eric Leonardson.

Meanwhile, the winter will be dominated by writing, editing, and production on a couple of great projects:

I’m working on a new commission called “For the time being” for Äänen Lumo Festival for New Sounds, taking place in Helsinki November 8-14, 2010. I have been especially invited NOT to attend the festival, but to work with five excellent sound students from the Theatre Academy Helsinki to create a new work for Finnish public radio, as well as craft a score for the intrepid agents to perform at the festival in a darkened cinema. They’re out there with their microphones at the ready, even as I write! Looking forward to working with the material they send me.

300 Tapes will premiere at the Theatre Centre in December 1-12, 2010 here in Toronto, and then head to the 25th playRites Festival at in Calgary in February 2011. It’s a Public Recordings show directed by Ame Henderson, and developed over the past two years in a company residency at the Theatre Centre in Toronto. I’ve been a co-creator of the work, as well as composing, sound designing, and will be doing live sound for the shows. Yes, there really are 300 tapes in the show, as promised.

Fresh from a rip-roaring run at the Minneapolis Fringe, Evalyn Parry’s bike show SPIN will also get its first full-length run at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre here in Toronto in March 2011.  I’m doing sound design and performing live in that one too (it’s the one show where I get to SING as well as twiddle knobs!)

And now, I need to get back to my nice little static, as it were.

five sound questions

Hugo Verweij over at the always-interesting sound blog Everyday Listening has an ongoing series where he poses five questions to various sonic-obsessed folk, and this week he’s featuring my rambling answers to his questions…. Walk on over and have a look.

Profile in Musicworks #106


Spring means a new issue of Musicworks magazine “for curious ears”, and this issue is all about “The Future of Radio”. Local filmmaker and writer Chris Kennedy wrote a lovely feature article on my recent radiophonic installations, and the issue showcases other interesting radio/sound artists like my occasional collaborator Kristen Roos. There’s a CD accompanying the magazine, which includes an stereo remix of an excerpt of the composition from my multi-channel radio installation Respire.