::: sounds :::
the first iteration of this installation happened in tartu, estonia during the UIT festival in august, 2016. the listening point appeared in nine locations over four days and served hundreds of listeners. below you can find a gallery of images from these locations, and a short recorded excerpt of the sounds discovered there.
the inaugural location for kuulamispunkt was in the front garden of the house hosting the UIT festival’s opening night concert. microphones were placed inside a 50mm drainage pipe sunk into the grass.
the second location was in the city center, outside the estonian writers union, under a rowan tree. contact microphones were placed in the tree, picking up the movement of the branches and the resonance of passing traffic in the wood.
the third location was next to the statue of peeter põld, a 19th-century estonian scientist and pedagogue, which is alongside a major road along the river. binaural microphones were placed in the statue’s ears, giving the listener a perfect stereo image from the statues perspective, and an idea of the noise peeter has to put up with all day and night.
the fourth location was along the river, listening to underwater sounds from one hydrophone mixed with the resonance of the riverside metal railings captured with a contact microphone.
the fifth location was on tartu’s townhall square, with contact microphones attatched to the large yellow frame put up to highlight to scenic view of the square, but the hollow metal structure provides a hidden unexpected amplifying resonance as well.
the sixth location was outside one of the festival venues, alongside a contruction site. omnidirectional microphones amplified the resonance inside the site’s safety fences.
the seventh location, on a very hot sunny day, was in the cool shade under a bridge along the river, with a pair of hydrophones capturing boat movement, dripping condensation, and some underwater life.
the eighth location was in a small park on a quiet street, where the public trash bins buzzed with life in the summer heat. the shape of the bins also resonanted the ambient sound, causing one listener to describe what she heard in the headphones as a ‘nightmarish science fiction cityscape, in a city of flies.’
the final location was at the site of the festival’s final performance, in an old industrial yard on the outskirts of town. here a magnetic coil picked up signals from the nearest building’s electrical installation.
since 2009 i have been working with the local räpina paper factory for the handmade sleeves that have housed the various framework editions releases, culminating with framework500, which not only used paper made there, but featured recordings of that paper being made. during the recording sessions for framework500 i couldn’t help but think that what really needed to be made at the mill was a film.
since early summer 2015, my friend and collaborator daniel allen and i have been recording the paper mill in all it’s surreal, other-worldly glory, and we now think we have what we need to make our film about this incredible space.
the film will take us some time still; in the meantime, we have put together this 3-minute teaser with some of our footage. we’d be very happy to hear any comments you might have! hopefully we can get the final product finished by the end of 2016.
saturday, 19 july
presentation of my (light-hearted) project mushroom(ears) in the context of the estonian road museum’s road art festival, about the use of a quasi-jecklin disk recording set-up to record sounds from the perspective of mushrooms in the ihamaru forest just off the historical tartu-võru postal road where the museum is situated.
each recording was made from the perspective of the pictured mushroom, with a pair of small-capsule omnidirectional microphones placed on the mushroom cap as ‘ears’, with stereo separation created with a cardboard and felted-linen semi-circular barrier, amounting approximately to one-half or a jecklin disc. observations: at this time of year, mid-july, bird sound is low in the forest, leaving more space for distant sounds and insects. as such, i would like to repeat the experiment with a lower-noise microphone. also, the black windshields seemed to attract insects – a more neutral color would be preferable. here are three examples:
kitsemampel (gypsy mushroom):
these first three experiments occurred during a visit to the eastern united states in the fall of that year. each had it’s particularities: the first was in the galleria of the baker center for the arts at muhlenberg college, in allentown, where i was given permissions to ‘play’ the harry bertoia kinetic sculptures which are on display there. the second was in my hometown, boston, where a very sparse performance space proved to be quite a challenge for finding sound sources. and the third, at bruce tovsky’s space in the brooklyn navy yards, expanded outwards, as the exceptional environment and visual collaboration with bruce led us to make our initial recordings, not just in the performance space, but all around the navy yard. for the performance bruce’s film was screened, accompanied by found sounds from the yard mixed with the live playing of found materials in the space.
::: engraved glass ::: mp3 ::: 2013 ::: download :::
this proposal became an exercise in memory for me. audio tape is not a medium i think about much in and of itself – i never recorded onto tape, but began when minidisc became affordable in the late 90’s – but it was very present in my life before my own recording began. i had a tape collection, both store-bought and dubbed records or cds, throughout high-school and university, and still associate, for example, some albums with others simply because they shared space on a single 90 minute cassette. so the object remains evocative to me, even if the medium does not.
that said, if i do think about the medium, one or two memories come to me: the hours spent playing with a friend’s copicat tape delay above a pub in london, stringing extra-long tape loops all over the room; making tapes of jokes and stories alone and with friends throughout my childhood, the first being one my father recorded of me at about the age of 4; and this recording, which was a cassette tape that had been sitting on the dashboard of my mother’s car for goodness knows how long. i was living in london at the time, and she had become inspired by my new recording activities to herself record for me the spring peepers in the marsh behind her new england home.
she found an old all-in-one tape recorder, and went looking for a tape to put in it. the only tapes she could think of were those in her car, which had likely been there, on the dashboard, in the sun, for years. she took one that she never listened to, popped it in the recorder, made a hissy, distant, but also lovely recording of her peepers, and gave the tape to me.
i was pleased enough to hear the peepers on one side of the tape, but when i flipped if over and listened to side b, the remains of whatever music she had originally copied there, burnt and warped by years of dust and sun and moisture, i was blown away. it was music that no one could have imagined, an alien static orchestra, with rhythms and cadences previously unknown.
i copied the cassette onto what would become another audio memory, a minidisc, attempted, if i recall correctly, to make some sort of composition out of it, never finished, and relegated it to the archive, where it sat more or less forgotten until this pinch sent me back towards my few magnetic-medium-related memories. i have long since lost that cassette, but i still have my minidisc archives, so when this memory arose i was able, with a little difficulty, to extract a recording of one obsolete bit of technology from another obsolete bit of technology, and present it on this obsolete-bit-of-technology-to-be.
a few months ago i found a small portable radio, dating probably from the 1980’s and made during soviet times, is a secondhand shop in the small village of mooste in southeast estonia. i have a thing for old radios, so i bought it, and it got me to thinking about the place of radio, not in this present world of internet streaming, podcasting and so forth, but in our past, and in our memories. i know i have distinct memories of radio, radio stations, djs, events, situations, and even places that i relate to radio from my own past, growing up in boston, during my student days in western massachusetts, all the way through my years at the resonance fm studios in london, and my attempts now to listen to estonian radio to improve my language skills. i wondered if this particular radio, alien to me but possibly familiar to estonians, might trigger memories for those around me, and i decided to find out.
the estonians interviewed were given the choice of speaking in their native language or in english; two chose estonian, and two english. i have left the estonian language untranslated in the audio itself – much of what is being communicated can be heard in the tones of their voices, and through shared vocabulary. that said, i am providing a written translation for the estonian language sections below.
It is, yes, made in USSR. It’s from Russian times. But with this one you couldn’t listen to Voice of America. This gets mediumwave and longwave. For Voice of America we used shortwave, 25, 31, and 49 meter bands. But this is… yes, with this one it should be possible… wait, let me check. It’s stuck in the bag. “Selga”; you see? It’s just as I thought, Selga. Produced in Latvia. Latvia made things like this. But let’s see which wavelengths it has – should be mediumwave and longwave. I had one just like this; I used to listen to German music with it. They played very good German music, on mediumwave. And it works? Yes, it’s got mediumwave and longwave. I used to listen to broadcasts in English on shortwave. We also had one of these Riga radios at home. They made a lot of these in Riga. All kinds of different machines. And then we also had a Radiotehnika, I used that one a lot too. I couldn’t speak any English yet, but i just listened to how good it sounded. It has such a nice timbre. Mother also used to listen to English radio – or which language did you listen to? Did you listen to Estonian? Mother doesn’t remember anymore which language she listened to. But yes, there was really good music. So this is from the Radiotehnika factory – RRR: Rigas Radiotehnika Rubnika. RRR, the factory’s mark. “Rigas Radiotehnika Rubnika” in Latvian. Selga 405. 29 rubles. Radio receiver. Look how well it’s preserved. Still working. It’s old already, probably 30, 35 years at least. Quality mark; this is a quality mark. SSSR. Here you choose longwave or mediumwave. It works well. ah, German. German? ah, one of them is speaking German, the other English. It works very well. Italiano – no, maybe not. No, I don’t know. Still English probably. Italian? He’s probably talking about the pope, who’s giving up his position. Is he giving up his position? It’s very sensitive, receiving very well. Don’t know what language that is. And what langauge is that? Ha, Big Brother language. Mine was light colored and had a colored bag as well. And a strap, like this one. This is of course newer than mine was. But that one I think broke. I don’t remember what was wrong with it.
It’s a radio, made in the Soviet Union. It has a black leather cover, a bag that has a strap that can be adjusted to different lengths, so that you can, for example, put it over your shoulder on the street and take it with you. Very comfortable. The bag has a nice soft texture on the inside. It has two snaps that you can close it with. The radio itself is rectangular, with two buttons: one for the volume, the other maybe for the frequency. The bag has one round hole, through which you can see the frequency indicator. And then there are many small round holes, to let the sound through. On the back there are some more holes. I don’t know what these can be for. Maybe for the radio to get ventilation. And then there is one hole through which headphones can be attached. And there is one more button with which, probably, different wavelengths – longwave, shortwave – can be selected; you can choose. Many words have been embossed on the bag, for example “made in USSR”. The radio is totally rectangular; the button is round and the speaker part is rectangular with small holes. The brand is Selga. The words on the indicator are green, and the pointer is red, and a bit transparent. On the indicator there are numbers: 1.5; 2; 3; 4; 5.6; 6.5; 8; 10 and 15. On the back is written Radio Prijemnik. Selga-405, type APP 4. Cost 29 rubles.
::: molmika ::: mp3 ::: 2013 ::: download :::
d.i.y. string instruments, motors, tapes, reed organ, wind instruments, found objects, frequency generator, jew’s harp, prepared accordion, field recordings, voice.
latvian friend and collaborator max shentelevs has posted a piece on the bernu rits website made by latvian television about a series of workshops and performances that took place there in 2008. max, john grzinich and i led the sound as space / sound as language workshop over 6 days in two locations. some more information about the workshop, from the murmerings archives:
“a workshop focusing on sound as transmitter of nonverbal information, whether as a tool for communication or as a description of physical or imaginary space. we will focus on sound’s ability to define/describe space, and on our ability to resonate, alter, or create space by using sound. we will also explore animal communication and group activity. a strong focus will be placed on environmental listening, and the development of the ear toward detailed sonic perception. using small acoustic objects and the space itself, we will experiment with methods of group nonverbal sonic communication, with giving our location a voice, and with creating new spaces toward an understanding of sonic scenography. the workshop will open with an extended listening session, after which participants will work through a series of sonic games and be asked to bring objects to use in the later stages.
more information (in latvian) and images from the week’s events here. the film is also in latvian, but includes much to see and hear!
one square meter is a project in micro-exploration. all sounds were recorded within a small radius of one another, a study of the different resonances perspectives, and focuses of a small space. for this project the chosen spot is on the riverside of the drava in maribor, the ruins of an old staircase that once led down to the water. the site contains the support poles for the now-gone staircase handrails, metal guardrails and fences, discarded bottles, reeds and cables dipping into the water, concrete walls, and life (insects, birds, fish, etc).individual sounds can be heard from the map on the right. here as well is a composition made using the recordings:
one square meter: maribor riverside is one outcome of the maribor maps project, a collaboration with udo noll, creator of the aporee soundmaps, and as we speak, which was a part of maribor capital of culture 2012.
on the 28th of april, 2012, marja-liisa plats (a local singer with whom i have worked several times in the past few years and with whom i have had a vague plan for the last year or so to start a musical project), sergei kleyn (a writer and musician who has been a resident artist at MoKS for the last few months) and i entered the annual mooste folk festival song competition and performance, at the request of the organisers for MoKS to enter a band representing the local mooste artists’ community.
many bands (14 this year, i believe) perform 2 songs each during the main event: one is a song of their choice, while the other is a single traditional song chosen by the festival organisers that each band must interpret. on the jury this year, among others, were musician peeter rebane, and legendary electronic composer sven grünberg, who would prove to be our champions as we won the 3rd place ‘surprise prize.’
many thanks to peeter and sven, and all those who enjoyed our music. here it is as recorded on the night by our friends, also then artists-in-residence at MoKS, dennis tan and katri ikävalko.