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



WE INTERRUPT THIS BROADCAST


This week, NRRF is back on the air, live in Chicago and Green and Columbia counties, New York, plus online all around the interweb.

NRRF Radio Collective Presents: We Interrupt This Broadcast

The world is burning: fires raging out of control; record heat and storms accumulating power and frequency; flooding ; disease vectors crossing the species barrier with ease. Apocalypse as usual. But we can listen to the radio: we interrupt our own broadcast to interrupt our own broadcast, and declare that “reception is interception”. And also to say that rubber bands last longer when refrigerated. Tune in won’t you?

7-10pm Thursday August 5, 2021 Central Daylight Time (GMT -6).

In Chicagoland, listen in live on the north side at 87.9FM; streamed live on Wave Farm Radio: NRRF Collective Presents; and in Green and Columbia counties, New York on WGXC 90.7FM from 8-10pm EDT.

NRRF is an ongoing series of radio art programs created and performed by the current NRRF collective composed of Jonny Farrow, Anna Friz, Stephen Germana, Jeff Kolar and Peter Speer. The group assembled in Chicago in 2012 at the Experimental Sound Studio for a summer residency making long-form, improvised radio art based on B-movie and sci-fi themes, deconstructing the genre for its tropes and stereotypes. The NRRF collective emphasizes abstract improvisation and takes as many tangents as possible. This results in an unpredictable mix of open sound fields, occasional narratives, spaceships that fail to launch, and even singing. 



10 Band Radio for WGXC’s 10th Anniversary


After more than a year of performing at a distance via radio and online broadcasts, I’m super excited to do my first live show tonight since January 2020!! Come on down to the Greenville Drive In theater, come rain or stormy weather (which there may be a bit of tonight). In celebration of the mighty WGXC, broadcasting high power community radio to Green and Columbia counties in New York state for past 10 years, I’ll be part of the festivities and doing a new 10 minute piece called “10 Band Radio” (note the emergent theme here….) Will there be walkie talkies? You betcha. And probably some silver rain gear.

The rest of the week I’m here in a mini-residency at the Wave Farm, doing live radio from the Acra studio at Wave Farm on Thursday May 27 2-4pm New York summer time to wrap up Jess Speer‘s Wave Farm fellowship, and a solo show Friday May 28 4-6pm where I’ll be making some new improvised radio art incorporating recent recordings and environmental media of all sorts with electronics and voice. Listen here.



NRRF B(b) Radio drones at home


NRRF B(b) Radio presents: The Spiral Breath

created for the Basilica Hudson’s Drone at Home concert

Heard online and on FM at WGXC and Wave Farm April 24-25, 2021

When a white dwarf star dies it emits a stream of carbon atoms, carried across the galaxy like ash by cosmic winds. These atoms eventually reach other stars and their planets, thereby feeding their own cycles of life and death. The universe breathes, and so do we. Meanwhile, here on earth the current pandemic has focused our attention on both the dire risks and life-giving necessity of breathing, especially in close proximity to others. Spirals form in the human lung when carbon nanoparticles disturb certain surfactant molecules found there. Could those spirals be the imprint of the Milky Way inside our lungs? The carbon breathed out by stars draws an image when we inhale. Drawing breath is ever more precious. This drone meditates on these ideas across dynamics of scale: macro and micro cycles of starlight and breath, the vibrations of atoms, the bellows that power stellar forges which ‘exhale’ particles as breath and that we also breathe, and the indelible traces left in our bodies by these cosmic forces.

NRRF B(b) Radio is an ongoing series of radio art programs created and performed by the current NRRF collective comprised of sound and media artists Jonny Farrow, Anna Friz, Stephen Germana, Jeff Kolar and Peter Speer, with video by Sarah Knudtson. Performing across the fields of improvisational and experimental sound, neighbourhood radio, and translocational radio art, the group assembled in Chicago in 2012 at the Experimental Sound Studio for a summer residency where they made long-form, improvised radio art based on B-movie and sci-fi themes, exploiting and deconstructing the genre for its tropes and stereotypes. The NRRF collective emphasize significant abstract improvisation and take as many tangents as possible. This results in an unpredictable mix of open fields of sounds, occasional narratives, spaceships that fail to launch, and even singing. Sometimes there is cake.



NRRF Bb Radio


On the 100th anniversary of the first global entertainment broadcast, Radioee.net and online radio stations from across the world present Wireless, a 24-hr translingual radio broadcast about planetary wireless communication.

NRRF Bb Radio: The development of planetary radio practices and systems also brought the insight that Earth is continually bathed in radio signals emanating from points across the universe, from ‘nearby’ within our solar system or from vast distances in space and time. Departing from Velimir Khlebnikov’s poetic observation in 1920 that “even starlight is a wireless signal”, the NRRF collective eavesdrops on the radiophony coming our way, and encounters fast radio bursts, long waves, and even the loneliest wave of all.

NRRF is an intermittent collaborative effort to make unlicensed neighborhood radio art. Earlier projects include a series of clandestine FM broadcasts in Chicago, Montréal and beyond with a rotating group of collaborators. Since 2012 NRRF features Jonny Farrow, Anna Friz, Stephen Germana, Jeff Kolar, and Peter Speer. It’s live radio expanded and improvised from various geographical locations, with the current group collaborating from Vermont, Florida, North Carolina, Chicago and Santa Cruz. The core group of performers play everything from traditional instruments to home built electronics, sample wildly, speculate broadly, and have been known to sing. @JonnyFarrow, @peter.speer, @jeffkolar, @wave_farm, @free103point9, @wgxc

On August 27, 1920, “The crazy people on the roof” (Radio Argentina Society initiators Enrique Susini, César Guerrico, Miguel Mugica, Luis Romero and Ignacio Gómez) installed a smuggled Marconi transmitter on the rooftop terrace of the Teatro Coliseo in downtown Buenos Aires. This broadcast of Wagner’s “Parsifal” marked the first radio broadcast in Argentina and the first mass public entertainment broadcast in the world.

On August 27, 2020, Midnight to Midnight Argentina Time, Wireless explores radio pasts and futures, from technology to entertainment. Everything wireless runs on radio, radio waves are the medium of wireless internet. Through translingual dialogue, music and sound, Wireless will consider the various modalities of this evolving planetary condition–spectrum, networks, telecommunications, infrastructure, urban acrobatics, physics, entertainment and education. Each partner radio will rebroadcast the marathon stream, leading to an amplification of radio investigation, entertainment, and solidarity.

radioee.net is an online, nomadic, multilingual radio station. They host 24-hr broadcast events on mobility and movement. They take up topics of transportation, migration, and climate transformation, transmitting local voices, music, and sound to create an audio portrait of a place in time.



Wave Farm Radio


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I’m enjoying a few days at Wave Farm here Acra, New York. A bit of meeting, and a bit of mini-residency to work on some overdue sound making! The best part about Wave Farm is: no matter the plan you arrive with, farm art will somehow take over. The site is very specific. Last night (May 17, 2016 midnight to 1:00) I did a live show for Wave Farm radio and WGXC (90.7FM in Greene and Columbia counties), considering the nature of distance, listening in the dark, metamorphosis and drones of all kinds. Above is the Wave Farm Study Center and artist residency (also home to the Acra studio of WGXC) and below yours truly getting ready for the night.

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