Balance-Unbalance 2018 New Value Systems | September 20-21

Advances In Eco-sensing and Soundscape: A Virtual Panel 2018 with Eric Leonardson, Dr. Leah Barclay, Alex Braidwood, Lindsey French, Amanda Gutiérrez, and Linda Keane.
15:30-17:00 CEST / 8:30-10:00 CST (Online real time viewing and listening link from Chicago, IL; Brisbane, QLD; Brooklyn, NY; Ames, IA and Milwaukee, WI to be posted.)

Balance-Unbalance 2018 New Value Systems is hosted September 20th and 21st 2018 by The Patching Zone, the City of Rotterdam and partners in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

This online panel discusses several ongoing projects that began under the name “Eco-Sensing and the Soundscape,” a course taught in the fall of 2015 by Eric Leonardson and Lindsey French, at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This studio course connected concepts and applied practices at the intersections of acoustic ecology and the hacking aesthetic of art and technology; opening possibilities for transdisciplinary collaborations and offering new understandings of our environments and our boundaries, locations, and roles within them. Subsequently, numerous collaborations and opportunities have flowed in new contexts and localities. These have grown with support for public engagement in the ecologies of sound, listening, and environment, demonstrating the importance of students and teachers who engage each other as partners in play and learning together, mentoring and activating local communities in the core value of listening. Recognition of this is shifting though it remains if this will be a lasting change with the dynamic and complex circumstances operative now. The panelists joining Leonardson and French are sound and media artists Leah Barclay, Alex Braidwood, Amanda Gutiérrez, and architect Linda Keane. Their individual and combined efforts engage and activate students and public communities in design of urban soundscapes using virtual environments, social codes of immigrant communities, river listening, soundwalking, plant communication, art-science collaborations, and human computer interaction.

The Balance-Unbalance conference brings together artists, designers, scientists, economists, philosophers, politicians, policymakers, sociologists, entrepreneurs and technologists from the world, based on the conviction that greater ecological awareness can be created through joint efforts. The conference focuses on debate, new insights and finding innovative solutions for issues arising from the global climate crisis.

The 2018 theme revolves around New Value Systems. We specifically think of sustainability and social impact as important value indicators. Of course, we will also reflect on the practical, economic and philosophical issues that such new value systems entail. As practical applications, one can think of sustainable retail innovation; social value creation and revitalization of cities; revenue models for creative place makers; the ecological aspects of cryptocurrencies and how to interface new value systems with the current monetary system.

Find the full conference Programme and Proceedings here.

World Listening Day 2016 | Sounds Lost & Found | The 606 Soundscape

606soundscapeFor World Listening Day 2016, I have organized a cohort of teaching artists and musicians who will transform our experience of The 606 & Bloomingdale Trail soundscape in Chicago this Saturday, Sunday and Monday, July 16–18. Events will actively engage in new ways of outdoor listening and sound making. Please visit the 606 Soundscape blog and Facebook Events for the full schedule. Attendance is free and open to all ages.

Along with performances and soundwalks, a global virtual symposium hosted through #SoundCon and the World Listening Project, celebrates World Listening Day 2016 “Sounds Lost and Found.” I give my brief keynote at 8:00 PM (Central time), following Sunday evening’s Sound Treasure Hunt. Watch the live stream via YouTube LIVE.

The 606 Soundscape project is made possible, in part, with support of the Chicago Park District and Trust for Public Lands.

In the Media | Sound experts make art of the noise all around

On January 19 Chicago Tribune, columnist Barbara Brotman published this interview with me.

We discussed urban soundscape awareness, the upcoming soundwalk in Ryerson Woods and concert by Chicago Phonography, on Sunday, January 25, 2015 organized in partnership with the Brushwood Center, Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology (MSAE), and World Listening Project. If you can pass the pay wall with a digital subscription to the Chicago Tribune, I’m told there is a video interview with me in the online version of the article. The soundwalk and performance was free for public participation. MSAE will report on the event in late February.

New Video With Birgit Ulher at the Renaissance Society

Birgit Ulher and Eric Leonardson from The Renaissance Society on Vimeo.

This video includes the full duration of our one hour concert at Bond Chapel, on the campus of the University of Chicago. The concert begins with a solo by Birgit (trumpet) and then myself (radios, oscillator, springboard), and concludes with our duo.

New video from 2013 MEGAPOLIS Fest with Anna Friz

New video from 2013 MEGAPOLIS Audio Festival, just in from Justin Groteleuschen, shows Anna Friz and me performing and talking about our work with 100 radios as “breathing instruments” and “players,” accompanied by Springboard, reeds, and electronics. This performance and talk happened at Union Docs in Brooklyn, NY on Saturday, April 13.

Anna Friz + Eric Leonardson @ MEGAPOLIS Audio Festival from MEGAPOLIS Festival on Vimeo.

New Springboard Video On YouTube

A short video by Josh Baum created at Amherst College, offering up close details and sounds of the Springboard.

Tortua video online

Published on March 26, 2013

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.

Baschet Brothers Musical Sculpture

Baschet’s Aluminum Piano (1962)detail of Baschet’s Aluminum Piano (1962)detail of Baschet’s Aluminum Piano (1962)
detail of Baschet’s Aluminum Piano (1962)detail of Baschet’s Aluminum Piano (1962)detail of Baschet's Aluminum Piano (1962)
Aluminum Piano with Ed Herrmann and Timothy Grundydetail of Baschet's Aluminun PianoEd Herrmann tests Baschet Brothers Aluminum Piano

Baschet Brother’s musical sculpture, a set on Flickr.

Friday, July 1 at 2–3 p.m. 4th floor, in the museum’s gallery experimental musicians Hal Rammel, Eric Leonardson, and Ed Herrmann will play and accompany François and Bernard Baschet’s Aluminum Piano (1962). Free with museum admission.

Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago IL 60611

This performance is a part of the exhibition Motor Cocktail: Sound and Movement in Art of the 1960s
July 1 – October 30, 2011
More information

Video: “CHARLES COHEN AT THE BUCHLA MUSIC EASEL”

This is a wonderful video of CHARLES COHEN at The BUCHLA MUSIC EASEL a new short film by Alex Tyson on Vimeo. Since our first meeting back in 1997, Charles has a way with this synthesizer that’s been nothing but a pleasure for me to hear.

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.

Radio Without Boundaries 2008, post-conference notes

Tetsuo Kogawa pict on eleonardson photostreamThe conference was a wonderful experience.

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.

Tetsuo Kogawa’s workshop, talk, and performance were superb. You’ll get a sense of what his performance was like by viewing and listening to Justin Groteleuschen’s clips on his Vimeo site: http://www.vimeo.com/user512919/videos. Please read his Deep Wireless report on Transom.org. Justin also has a good set of photos from the conference on his Flickr photostream, and I added a few photos to my own Flickr site, and this video on

To see Tetsuo Kogawa's diagrams, tools, "howto", peripherals, and histories visit How to build a micro transmitter. He has done a great job of providing this information in English. For a direct tutorial web page including circuit schematics, go to Kogawa's "How to build the most simplest FM transmitter?"

Keynote Address: Re-examining radio art by Tetsuo Kogawa

A talk and performance given at the Deep Wireless Radio Without Boundaries conference in Toronto, on Sunday, June 1, 2008

Keynote description from the New Adventures In Sound Art (NAISA) website

Tetsuo Kogawa demonstrates how to make antenna

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."
—Tetsuo Kogawa

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.

parts for Tetsuo Kogawa’s transmitter workshop May 31, 2008

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 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.

Eric's mini-FM transmitterHere'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.