Free reeds and free radio

anna_accordionUsually when more than one sound installation moves into a gallery space, it’s an instant competition where the loudest wins the day. This Saturday, myself and Coppice (Joseph Kramer and Noé Cuéllar) seek to prove otherwise. We are installing two different sound-based installations that intentionally overlap, interested to see what they produce in conversation with one another. We’ll be performing within/with them as well, each taking a turn to add to the sonic environment.

I was excited from the first time I heard of Chicago-based Coppice, as they are also focused on free reeds and electronics, unstable systems, and spatialized, often quiet sounds.  Here’s what we’re up to:

Anna Friz/ Coppice   Saturday May 25, 2013     TriTriangle   Third Floor, 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave  Chicago    Installation open 6-11pm.  Performance around 9pm.

Anna Friz: Nocturne

An intimate atmosphere of transmission inside a multi-channel array of radio receivers and micro-watt transmitters, suspended and dispersed throughout the space. The radios express nighttime respirations, radio-synthesis, and uneasy dreams. The larger array is joined by three table-top custom radio/tape players built by Hyde Park inventor George Kagan.

Nocturne will overlap in installation and performance with A Vinculum Variation by Coppice, engaging in conversation with the elements of the shared sonic landscape and the live instruments of all three performers. Anna plays free reeds, electronics, and cassettes.

Coppice: A Vinculum Variation

This presentation expands the performed-installation practice of the duo to invite conversation with adjacent sonic work.  The multichannel installation and performance accommodates motifs and materials from Vinculum, an ongoing project since 2010.  Technically, the work relies on a custom-built inductive mixing table, formerly utilized in Copse (2010).  The table redistributes the sounds of the Vinculum archive as they are played back through small speakers resting at different locations on its surface.  The installation will be elaborated in performance by the reorientation of the speakers on the table and live material related to Vinculum.

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.

Heavy breathing at the Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago

I’m hanging my multi-channel radio installation Respire at the Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) in Chicago this week, with the opening reception coming up on Friday July 15, 6PM-9PM. My good friend and partner in sonic crime Eric Leonardson will be joining me to play at the opening, where we’ll each improvise with the radio world of the installation. Respire will stay up until August 7, and will continue to change as I meddle with the transmitter configurations, composition, and interference potential. ESS has kindly let me use their Audible Gallery as a project space for the duration of the show, so I can continue my research into multi-channel radio systems. Gallery hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5PM, or by appointment during the week. You can email me here as well and see when I’ll be in the gallery if you want to hang out and move antennas.

Here’s a short description of the piece:

Respire is an intimate experience of radio transmission, featuring a multi-channel array of suspended radio receivers and micro-watt transmitters. Sounds of breathing and other bodily exclamations typically absent from regular radio programming seep up through the welter of signals, as the receivers play and emit their own oscillating frequencies. This milieu of harmonic interference and uneasy nighttime respirations reveals the invisible contours of the radio landscape that surrounds us. Other sounds are created from instruments that echo human breath (harmonica) or the detuned radio landscape (theremin).


The space is very intimate–a little sun-dappled box 6m x 6m. For the opening I blacked out the windows and lit the radios with small LED lights, but later on during the installation, I removed the blacks and lights to return the installation to “daytime mode”. New to the array this time around were the chirps and sounds of satellites, which were remarkably insectoid. Much like the similarity between human breath and static, the satellites-as-insects or frogs are striking for the way electro-magnetic and organic phenomena can sound so similar.

Eric Leonardson took a picture during the install: that’s me on a ladder, hanging radios once more…..

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

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

The Leona Drive project

Domestic Wireless, Dust. was showing as part of the Leona Drive Project here in Willowdale (metro Toronto) which just closed on   October 31. My piece was installed in the upper bedroom at Leona 9…. DWD_blue_web

…you’ll have to imagine the little drones and susurrations of radios, as they transmit the signals of wireless life past and present that pass through the house.

The Leona Drive project is  a site-specific exhibition in a series of six vacant bungalows slated for demolition by Hyatt Homes, a developer in Willowdale, Ontario (in the Yonge and Finch area of Greater Toronto). The exhibition artists will be working in a variety of media: audio, radiophonic interceptions, architectural installation, projection, photography, sculpture and performance for a period of two weeks, from October 22nd – 31st 2009. The overall problematic for the exhibition is the remarkable shift from the suburbs of old to the suburbs of contemporary Canada, namely the neighborhoods and precincts of the multicultural, but nonetheless parsed state.Through the Leona Drive project, we are investigating recent developments in suburbia where new patterns of community and conscience operate. 

We sadly packed up the little Leona houses behind yesterday, boarding them back up after an amazing run. The turn-out for the duration of the show was really enthusiastic, and my favourite part was being the greeter/information person in the entrance hallway of Leona 9, hearing people’s stories of living in similar houses and their impressions of the works. 

Respire at Nuit Blanche Toronto, 2009

Well, the all-night frenzy of Nuit Blanche is over for another year, and my radio installation Respire had a steady line-up of visitors through the night. Toronto area artist and photographer Tom Blanchard took some marvelous photographs of the piece: