Tortua is a robotic video artwork that was on display in the Eli Marsh Gallery at Amherst College, on March 4–27, 2013. The installation incorporates a digitally animated sequence by Rebekah Tolley, a robotic sculpture by Micheal Tolley and audio by Eric Leonardson.
This colorful video features sound artist Charles Cohen improvising on a 1970′s Buchla Music Easel. This extremely rare instrument is one of Don Buchla’s 200 series. Buchla (a pioneer of audio synthesis) only manufactured 14 of these units. The entire film was edited from an hour-long set of free improvisation, with audio was taken directly from Charles’ mixing board.
All of the photography and editing was produced by Alex Tyson, a sound and video artist from Pennsylvania. The film was shot in 16:9 720p High Definition format, using the Letus35 Extreme and a 35mm LensBaby 3GPL.
Highlights, moments of curiosity, and conviviality: conversations with Trademark G, who performed on Saturday; capturing a spontaneous conversation about listening and the conference on my DAT with Amber and Andrea from Union Docs in Brooklyn; meeting Chantal Dumas; hanging out with Anna Friz, Peter Courtemanche, Glen Gear, who performed on Friday night as Absolute Value of Noise…and with Justin Groteleuschen, who helped Anna and me out last year when we toured to Boston, and wrote about this conference for Transom.org.
Kogawa is credited with starting free radio in Japan. He studied and teaches philosophy there, and uses the ideas of Felix Guattari to frame his own concept of radio and transmission art. Rather than belabor you with all that this richly implies, this statement encapsulates his concept nicely. Quoting from Kunstradio’s announcement of Tetsuo’s October 2007 live broadcast from Musikprotokoll, Graz:
“My performance consists of radio transmitters/receivers and my hands that wave over them. Every space of my performance has different airwave conditions. But the point is to create resonances and fluctuations of airwaves and to crystallize them into the sounds or/and images. I think radio must be understood as radiation. Radiation is communication of ‘messages’ as well as artistic imagination. I am more interested in the latter function. Radio is based on the electronic transmission. This transmission is between mind and body, and brain and hands. Radio could give a model to link different zones of our body and our outer worlds. In the microscopic scale of our body, we have neurotransmitters while in the macro scale we have hands. By my hand-waving transmission, I move between virtual and physical areas, technology and techne (τέχνη) which originally means handwork.”
My quick web search for an online version of Kogawa’s talk revealed many references, but not the actual text of “Re-examining radio art”. Kogawa’s main page seems the best source for searching and learning about his ideas and work. One interesting link is a paper by Sarah E. Kanouse on transmission and memory. The PDF download link is here.
My search also reminded me that the latest issue of Leonardo Music Journal, LMJ17 makes mention of Tetsuo Kogawa. This is the same issue that carries my article on the Springboard. The companion CD compiled by Sarah Washington, entitled the Art of the Gremlin, has one track by Knut Auferman with Tetsuo Kogawa entitled fm:i/o.
As he stated in his talk, Tetsuo isn’t interested in radio-as-broadcast, “…free radio does not broadcast (scatter) information but communicates (co-unites) messages to a concrete audience.” In my hands it certainly is a radio-as-instrument, and Tetsuo demonstrated this most completely and convincingly in his performance.
This one-minute video from Sunday’s performance doesn’t give the full effect, but does hint at how the Tetsuo uses the proximity of a single trnasmitter to manipulate the sound.
“In accordance with my re-examination of the concept of transmission, I would like to demonstrate a short example to ‘parenthesize’ the “messages” of transmission and to let the airwaves emancipate themselves.”
This 53-minute video on Google from Newcastle resembles last Sunday’s talk, workshop, and performance.
This is the sort of radio I’m most interested in. It connects the cultures of radio art, hardware hacking, and electronic music performance to one another. In the context of broadcasting it blurs the traditional roles of the sender and receiver making this relationship into one where you or I can easily become a sender-receiver, or a transceiver. The activity of “transception”—on the micro-scale-transmission range of one meter-that Kogawa is interested—results in radio that merges radiation in the electro-magnetic spectrum with the capacitance of his own body.
Here’s a photo of the transmitter I built on Saturday, which was part 1 of the workshop. In part 2, participants built antennas for their transmitters with coaxial cable, as shown in Justin’s photos. I’ve received useful knowledge from the Radio Without Boundaries conference on radio and transmission art, with applications in my own performance in hand and for potential student projects. I used the FM transmitter I built in Wednesday night’s rehearsal with Auris, and want to experiment with it further.
Hopefully, there will be audio transcripts of the Radio Without Boundaries sessions available so that anyone interested in art, sound, and radio will be able to learn and grow.
The show was held in late 1997 at Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was among the 14 artist-inventors who had their instruments displayed. I also gave a brief performance in the show. Visit the page at www.woodlandpattern.org/gallery/shapes_of_sound.shtml
Many photographs from the show are on this page with Hal Rammel’s catalog essay. To learn more about his fascinating writing, visual art, and music, please visit Hal’s homepage, his MySpace page, and YouTube.
On Friday, May 2 SAIC’s Waveforms presented videos and performances by students from the Sound Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Gretchen Hasse from Gearwire came and interviewed many of the students in my Instrument Construction course, who opened the evening with an ensemble performance on their new instruments.
The video interviews are being completed now, and the first one up in the series is with Jenna Caravello, who worked all semester on her original acoustic instrument, the Celloharp. As you might guess from its name, this is a hybrid instrument. Jenna’s persistence and resilience in the face of so many kinds of challenges during its design and construction earns my respect and admiration.
7:00 pm Wednesday, February 20 Lincoln Park Cultural Center, 2045 N. Lincoln Park West
Chicago, IL 60614 Tel: 773.248.1667 Admission: Free (seating is limited to only 50 people) Arts at Largehttp://www.aalchicago.org/
I will be performing on the Springboard, my self-built instrument pictured above, with electronics. This will be my first solo performance since the 2007 Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium, and the first evening length solo since the 2006 RadioRevolten Festival.
Auris is a Chicago-based trio that performs original electroacoustic music on traditional and invented instruments. Its performances combine improvisation and compositions using non-traditional scores and text.
Julia Miller — guitar, voice, electronics
Chris Preissing — flute, voice, electronics
Eric Leonardson — springboard
Aaron Wendel, one of my instrument construction students at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has a video up about his very cool and unusual Bubble Organ. Watch it on the Gearwire website: http://www.gearwire.com/bubble-organ-lab.html