20200602

Started working at the Malmi cemetery. I’ll serve as a gardeners aid for two months. Manual labor. Its ten years since I had a punch-card (side)job. Colleagues lineup at the machine at 15:23 and wait for the clock. People rush in to meet the 06:59 punch-in que. Thursdays we get off at 14:53 and Fridays at 14:52. The odd schedules are due to some worker-rights negotiations. People obey the schedules. Preparing texts, new mineral water works and Horse & Performance course for the autumn. There are some fun exhibition things scheduled too. After covid pressure, I have two-jobs pressure from where I jump to a teaching (and other) gigs pressure. Feels unfair. Got accepted to the Aalto University Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture.

20200531

Muzak: On Functional Music and Power (1992) Simon C. Jones & Thomas G. Schumacher. A straight to the bones text on the ideology of functional music. The text offers a good overview on how Muzak is designed and how it effects people who are subjected to it. There are even some statistics on how it effects worker efficiency.

For Adorno, one of the functions of popular music was to distract workers from the monotony of increasingly rationalized and mechanized work. It treated the symptoms of alienation and subordination, alleviating boredom and fatigue but without removing their causes. Popular music was, in the end, little more than “social cement,” reinforcing existing social relations and power structures – entertainment as containment […] The stylistic regularity and harmonic simplicity of Muzak suggests a secure, private, domestic world that signifies the comfort and security of home in terms of a particular, bourgeois conception of domestic well-being. Its aim is precisely to make one “feel at home” whether in an office, factory or airplane.

I remember reading that Muzak is used in shopping-centers to make the violent experience of moving with an elevator from a level of where fur-hats are sold to the floor where butchered meat is sold more coherent. Muzak removes the post- from modern. A contemporary application of the text would be a critique of ambient-music and earphone-culture as processes were individual wellbeing is build by enforcing technologically segregated private spaces. With the emphasis on audio quality as a class signifier: Headphones which boost bass tones are deemed working class. Interestingly personalized ambient spaces are disseminated into public trough shared curated playlists.

A trajectory from Muzak, 90ties World Music, Vaporwave (which I recognize Skweee as) to Ambient would be interesting to explore. I think each genre responds to political detachement and cynicism. New march-music for the welfare state can be sought from: How to Kill a Zombie: Strategizing the End of Neoliberalism (2013) Mark Fisher.

Neoliberalism consolidated the discrediting of state socialism, establishing a vision of history in which it laid claim to the future and consigned the left to obsolescence. It captured the discontent with centralized bureacratic leftism, successfully absorbing and metabolizing the desires for freedom and autonomy that had emerged in the wake of the 60s. But – and this is a crucial point – this isn’t to say that those desires inevitably and necessarily led to the rise of neoliberalism. Rather, we can see the success of neoliberalism as a symptom of the leftist failure to adequately respond to these new desires.

Made a Manhattan style PCB for a FM transmitter. I used a LM7809 to stabilize the power input and even without an antenna the unit can cover our flat! The sound is really good and quirky. Bass tones etc. get broadcasted well and when I wave my hand over a receiver other FM broadcasts seep to the same channel. This emphasizes the pocket-like-folds the mini-FM makes to the radio space (which Kogawa’s texts underline). Interestingly when I broadcast simple waves in close proximity of a FM receiver and boost the volume of the transmission the sound feels like a wavefolder. Couldn’t get the Charles Kitchin FM receiver to work yet. It might be that the J113 is not a perfect replacement for the MPF102 or my coils are missaligned. Found a detailed tutorial on how to build the unit Radio Shack Special (2008) by braincambre500 and I’ll retry the build. Also sourced parts for The Simplest FM Receiver by Miomir Filipovic which uses two transistors and only one coil. Fitting the transmitter and received on the same PCB will be challenging as the Kogawa transmitter is so powerful. I might have to add a switch to the eurorack design to toggle the unit to work either as a transmitter or a receiver… I also think that the tuning capacitors should be lifted from the ground somehow. Cleared my workbench and I’ll try to build a working unit this summer.

20200515

In Finland artists grants for individuals are called “apuraha”. I think a direct translation for this would be “support fund”. I like the term a lot: A fund intended to support an artist, such a beautiful idea! I imagine the name stems from an era when artists made their living primarily by selling artworks. The state and private foundations would grant their unconditional support when an artist wanted to take a break to develop their style.

Right after the covid lockdown was announced, the state and almost all Finnish art supporting foundations started developing covid relief packages. These were aimed for artists and creatives who lost their income in the first wave. Some of these arrangements were announced within two weeks after the lockdown and the first grants were given almost within a month. This was a great effort!

The covid grants which private foundations offer are also called “apuraha” (support fund) but in inspection, none of their open calls are meant to support artist unconditionally. The funds are aimed only for development and innovation. A prime example of this was a recent Kone foundation open call (mentioned earlier), which was criticized by Maria Ylikangas (among others). The fatigue caused by inventing creative responses to covid related calls has been criticized by Kim Modig (among others).

In short: Private foundations want artists to produce innovation. The are specifically looking for “digital-leaps” and ways to adjust artistic practices to new digital platforms. As pointed by Ylikangas, the foundations are looking for black swan-opportunities! And this happens without shame at a time when people most affected by the lockdown, have very little freedom and very little to offer.

I think the funding private foundations offer should not be called “apuraha”. They should be called for what they are: “Development funds” (kehistysrahoitus). The covid period will serve as a historical reminder that private foundations have very clear political aims and specific agendas. They never support artists unconditionally.

I’m fine with this but the problem is that in Finland, foundations seldom announce their political agendas directly. They are clearly after something but their programmes are unarticulated. The public is left to interpret what a foundations mission is by reading their open calls. In inspection they are seeking abstract nonsense such as “boldness” or “digital leaps”. What do these calls actually mean, what kind of a society are they working for? Their current, wittingly drafted press-releases, underline universal humanistic ideals and creative freedom. But don’t actually say anything: Which means that they are for maintaining status quo.

I think this needs to change. If private foundations do not clearly announce that they are working for social justice, equality and to maintain the welfare state, then they are not. #☭

20200514

Alkovi published an interview were we discuss the work I’ve been doing related to the In Various Stages of Ruins -project. The questions were send beforehand and the interview is conducted by Miina Hujala and video edited by Arttu Merimaa. Mineral waters are mentioned and views to the wild springs we found shared. The format is interesting, Miina is scrolling the screen vertically, the timeline is progressing horizontally and to read the longer parts one needs to pause the movement.

Konsthall C made an announcement for next weeks Mineral Water Sommelier Hotline performance. Build three piezo-amplifiers and seriously sourcing a sound card for the live stream.

20200509

Designing Winterbloom’s Big Honking Button (2020) theavalkyrie. A solid rundown on how to design eurorack modules. The text is informative and teaches how to read schematics, how microcontrollers work and what goes into designing a module. The honking button seems fun but a little gimmicky. Build a simplified USB +/-12v&5v power-supply based on this discussion. Opted for the Meanwell DKM10E-12 and the palm size board I assembled offers ~ +/-420mA! I’m now sourcing parts to make my own USB A-B cable (all of the cables I had caused power drop issues). Planning piezo-amp units and dreaming of a complex ramp generator or LFO/SLEW/ENV 1.1 by Kymatica.

Some links on the site don’t work but the protocol seems usefull for haptic devices: “Buttplug is an open-source standards and software project for controlling intimate hardware, including sex toys, fucking machines, electrostim hardware, and more.”

Sourced parts for radio transmitters & receivers and learning of the strange world of radio. Wide-band WebSDR is an interesting online radio project, the purpose of which I don’t understand (for testing transmissions?). Spectres of Shortwave a 2016 film by Amanda Dawn Christie seems interesting. Also listening and reading more Tetsuo Kogawa stuff. Found two great performances of his which use radio as a medium (radioart). In Looking for the Silent Interference (2018) the artist stacks transmitters which are broadcasting on the same frequency to produce audible ripples in radio waves (I think this is what he means by “folds” in radio space, referencing Adorno). In A Simple Way of Radioart (2019) he uses a pair of transmitters and receivers to produce a feedback loop which tone is depended on how he plays the transmitter antennas. In some of his texts he talks about hands as instruments and both examples are very good examples of this: The shape of his palm sets the sound. I cannot reach him using the email on his site, I’ll have to reach out to his colleges. Here is a quote from A Radioart Manifesto (2008)

When does radio become into radioart beyond being a medium? For newspaper, for instance, paper is a medium. […] How and when paper becomes an art? It is when the material of “paper” changes itself into a different material. Whatever you write and draw on a sheet of paper, it remains a medium. Therefore such attempts create not paperart but art on the paper. And when you crumple up it, it becomes a garbage. Adorno argued that “all post-Auschwitz culture, including its urgent critiques, is garbage”.

This “garbage” (Muell) is, however, not a worthless thing but a new material of art in Adorno’s critical perspective. In my interpretation, post-modern arts (arts after the modernism) starts with Adorno’s “garbage . His argument advocated “trash art”. But considering his critiques against the electronic mass medium such as radio and television we can argue that the most post-modern material as “garbage” would be airwaves.

Thinking about how airwaves as garbage become an art, the aforesaid example of paper might help us. When a sheet of paper is crumpled, it becomes garbage and at the same time it has many folds. They damage the material as a writing/drawing paper but change this material into another. Giles Deleuze provides an interesting understanding on fold although it is in relation to Leibniz’ monadology. A labyrinth is said, etymologically, to be multiple because it contains many folds. the multiple is not only what has many parts but also what is folded in many ways. [sic]