Posts for August 2010

Required Reading

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Blast 3 from 1993

Jordan Crandall is an artist and media theorist whose work deals with the cultural and political dimensions of new technologies. Between 1991 and 1995 he was the editor of Blast, a multimedia magazine that was initially published in a box format. Blast evolved alongside the popularization of the Internet, and much of its work occurred at the intersection of publishing, digital culture, and the production and distribution of art objects. This spring, Crandall spoke with Triple Canopy about the history of Blast, the nature of the magazine as a form, and the days of accessing bulletin board systems via suitcase-size modems.

-- FROM "UNMARKED BOX ON A COUNTER: JORDAN CRANDALL IN CONVERSATION WITH CALEB WALDORF" IN TRIPLE CANOPY, ISSUE #9

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Norman McLaren: Synchromie. Musique Optique at WRO Art Center on Vernissage TV

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Last month, I posted Norman McLaren's 1971 work Synchromy to Rhizome. Vernissage TV visited the WRO Art Center in Wrocław, Poland, where the exhibition surveying his career "Norman McLaren: Synchromie. Musique Optique" is currently on display. In this clip, curator Piotr Krajewski discusses McLaren's technique and relationship to sound.

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Public Supply I (1966) - Max Neuhaus

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Public Supply I, WBAI, New York, 1966


For "Public Supply I," Max Neuhaus confined his role as musician to that of a "catalyst for sound-producing activities," using the largest existing network, the telephone network, which had about 500 million subscribers at the time. Using technology he had constructed himself, he was able to mix calls coming in to ten telephones in the studios of the WBAI radio station in New York in different ways, and then broadcast this melange of listeners' sounds and noises. Once the listeners who called in had switched their radios on, he played with the feedback this produced and bundled sounds from introverted and extroverted callers together.

"I realized I could open a large door into the radio studio with the telephone; if I installed telephone lines in the studio, anybody could sonically walk in from any telephone. At that time there were no live call-in shows. […] Although I was not able to articulate it in 1966, now, after having worked with this idea for a long time and talked about it and thought about it, it seems that what these works are really about is proposing to reinstate a kind of music which we have forgotten about and which is perhaps the original impulse for music in man: not making a musical product to be listened to, but forming a dialogue, a dialogue without language, a sound dialogue."

-- DESCRIPTION FROM MEDIA ART NET

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Shared Frequencies (2007) - Kabir Carter

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Shared Frequencies is a portable sound installation and performance environment that relies on multiplex radio communications events as its primary performance material. An array of radio scanners is paired with a set of analog synthesizer modules, and assembled on a set of small, modest folding tables. The scanners pick up a wide variety of speech, encoded data streams, and noise that are converted into (more) synthetic sound. The results of these electroacoustic interactions are projected into the air, and the sounds heard are physically modified by the shape and volume of the installation's site.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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The FM Ferry Experiment (2007) - neuroTransmitter (Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere)

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The FM Ferry Experiment, a project conceived and programmed by neuroTransmitter, was an eight-day mobile radio project held on the Staten Island Ferry during the Fall of 2007. With the collaboration of the New York City Department of Transportation and the FM signal of WSIA-FM, this project transformed the S.i. Ferry into a floating radio station, continually traveling between Lower Manhattan and Staten Island, and transmitting out to the NYC region.

Through the media of radio and live broadcast performance we were interested in spatially and sonically activating the space in and around the Staten Island Ferry, considering it's architecture, mode of transport, use of public space, and the geographical contours of the ferry's immediate environment as it moved through Upper New York Bay.

Live sound performances, experimental sound works, interviews, and lectures took place on the ferry and transmitted (along with pre-recorded programming) to New York City listeners via WSIA-FM. Each program ran approximately 25 minutes - the time it takes the ferry to complete the commute from shore to shore.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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FM Radio Map (2006) - Simon Elvins

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Site-specific map plotting the location of FM commercial and pirate radio stations within London. Power lines are drawn in pencil on the back of the map which conduct the electricity from the radio to the front of poster. Placing a metal pushpin onto each station then allows us to listen to the sound broadcast live from that location.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Commitment Radio (2006) - Dave Chiu and Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

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Commitment Radio examines radio presets and what it means to make a choice. Instead of using unmarked generic buttons, presets on Commitment Radio create permanent marks. Over time, Commitment Radio will become personalized with your changing musical tastes, political leanings, locations, and age.

The functioning physical prototype of Commitment Radio allows you to scan for stations by moving a dial along the tuning strip. To listen to a station, however, you must push the dial into the radio, leaving an indelible mark.

Over time, Commitment Radio will become personalized with your changing musical tastes, political leanings, locations, and age. Because the radio has a finite amount of space, Commitment Radio encourages deliberateness in your choices and actions.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Performance, All Over the Map: On Chris Salter's "Entangled"

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Chris Salter's Entangled is a massive undertaking and a book long overdue. In this ambitious project, Salter sets out to provide a historical overview of the intersections between technology and artistic performance in order to demonstrate the profound entanglement in the historical trajectories of both sets of practices and developments. Entangled seeks to address how technological developments have altered our making and perception of artistic performance and the socio-political, cultural and economic contexts of such developments (p. xiii). Furthermore, Salter understands the histories of new media arts, theater, and other stage-based artforms as divided in a tension between the technophilic and technophobic, and his investigation is an attempt to fill this gap.

Peter Sellars describes, in his Foreword to the book, Salter's approach as radically inclusive. Indeed, Salter sets out to frame an impressively diverse range of practices as performance. Those practices include, but are not limited to, theatre, opera, scenography, architecture, video art, installations, environments, sonic arts, robotics, media arts, live and body art, expressions of popular culture such as music gigs, and more. Entangled consists of eight chapters, each focusing on a different form. This distinction is not designed to separate disciplinary trajectories though; instead, it challenges disciplinary boundaries through its fluid narrative that consistently foregrounds intersections, crossovers and common histories.

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Sound Barrier (2006) - Maia Urstad

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SOUND BARRIER is a new work by Maia Urstad, a sound installation consisting of some 130 CD-and cassette radios assembled as a wall. Visually, these devices function as elements in a structure inspired by historical stone constructions

SOUND BARRIER relates to earlier works such as STATIONS; a sound installation deriving its visual basis from the Roman arch; and CLEOPATRA'S NEEDLES; a concert performance inspired by Pharonic Egyptian structures.

The creative impulses for SOUND BARRIER originate in the historical remains of buildings, i.e., ruins. Technology, here, electronics - a development from our own time, comprises the 'stones'.

The CD-and cassette radios in the installation have a double, visual and conceptual function. On an auditory level they are mediating the sound image implemented in the installation. Visually they are the concrete building blocks, the obvious function in the wall, but they also reflects issues related to the technical development and our culture of consumption.

The CD players in the wall are playback units for a composition of electronically treated sounds borrowed from radio waves, Morse code, FM- and satellite radio etc. Sound signals that also will be obsolete and forgotten sooner than we might expect.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Untitled (for William Tager) (2006) - Dave Dyment

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A radio for every available frequency in a given space, all tuned to their lowest possible volume.

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