– Well,  [David] Tudor was one of my first customers. [John] Cage and Tudor visited me at my studio in Berkeley and I remember that occasion. My studio at that time was ten feet wide and I worked out on the sidewalk. It was so crowded in there we hauled the workbench out on the sidewalk on good days and set up my oscilloscope and worked out there. Cage came by and for voltage control I had hooked up my keyboard to an FM module that I’d built, a little module that was an FM receiver and I could play stations on it because I had one of the first veractor tuned FMs. Cage, as you can imagine was, just enormously interested in the fact that I could tune each key to a station and then proceeded to play the radio. I had already met Cage while putting together some of his pieces that involved perhaps multiple radios, phonographs and so on. At that time, in fact the first instrument that he encountered that I had built was a device that gave you a pitch according to where you were along the sound beam. Add it was a guidance device for the blind. At that time I was working a lot with prosthetics for the blind and Cage played it as a musical instrument in this piece and then later on saw my voltage control tuner. He didn’t actually purchase one. I’m not sure that I was offering it for sale in fact. But David Tudor came along with him and commissioned a sound locator that was based on a very beautiful Aztec-looking design. Four circular motifs in which you played a five-channel sound system. Four speakers in the corners of the room and a fifth directly overhead. That was my way of making a equal interval polyhedron. Not taking care of the bottom but certainly the top and Cage bought that and the rather complex voltage controlled amplifier that it controlled to distribute sounds and he used in a number of pieces. I believed he used it in a early version of the Rain Forest Piece.

– Do you recall the date of that?
– I have a hard time with years to tell you the truth.

– The 60s of course?
– Oh early or mid sixties .

– What was the war doing?
– This was early 100 series stuff.  By ’69 I had abandoned the 100 series so it would be around ’66.

Extract from 1991 Buchla tape transcription from the Steina and Woody Vasulka archives.

I submitted a PCB design revision of the Arradio module to a factory. Made the design using KiCad and called the unit Radio Kid. The revision uses a different FM radio submodule, includes reverse voltage protection, the output has a 1k buffer, the board is fitted with a U.fl-smt-1(01) connector for a SMA antenna connector (optionally mounted on the panel), the circuit includes a “latch-toggle” which prevents the tda7088 locking to FM channels and it is 2hp smaller then the original. Small changes to the original design, yet milestone in for my electronics hobby.


My gig at the Malmi cemetery has ended. I got an opportunity to leave the job thanks to a Art Promotion Center covid grant. The grant enables me to complete a writing job on Performance Pedagogy, start developing the Horse & Performance course for TEAK and prepare mineral water performances for the fall (which is going to be hella busy). I got the grant for making an interesting critique of the response creative culture in Finland had on the pandemic.

I miss the work a bit, it felt honest and the crew was fun. It was exhausting to work outdoors in +30C° weather / rain and doing artsy stuff as a sidejob took its toll on family life. The pay was pretty low too, so the grant feels like winning the lottery. I’ve slept and wept for two days. Artists in Finland often complain that government artists grants are too low. Sure, they are but considering the hours and physical exhaustion of the gardening job I’d take the grant life for life.

I completed two electronics kits over the last weekends. I assembled a Dannysound Cali (California) oscillator, which is a replica of the Buchla Model 258. Wavefolding is inspiring: Instead of removing content to develop a sound, an aspect of it gets exaggerated. The unit allows wavefolding to be used to cut the volume, which works for neat lowpass filter type effects. Last weekend I assembled a Befaco Rampage, which is an “approach to an old invention: the Serge/Buchla ramp generator”. It processes sound, triggers and gates to spurt out an array of control voltages. It feels like an intelligence of sorts. I can use it as an envelope follower (Planning to process sparkling water. Edit: My preamps are not strong enough!). My current Waterlab eurorack system runs on a USB power bank.


Buchla – Electronic Music as Performance Art (2019) Under the Big Tree. A near hour long lecture on the history of the Buchla (Bemi) design company. The talk isn’t analytical, it does not excavate what it meant for Buchla to interface with a synthesizer or what motivated Buchlas dissentient and anti-government attitudes. But it offers some interesting historical details and explains the heterogeneity of his layouts (Save a click: Users don’t need to see a module to recognize it, they can identify it by feeling the knobs!).

Designing the Make Noise Erbe-Verb (2019) Tom Erbe/Soundhack (a video by mylar melodies). A very detailed history of reverbs and a thorough look on Erbes design process. He shares his insights openly and offers concrete tools for reverb design.

Heading to Buchla and Serge territory myself. Swapped my Monotribe for a Variable Slope VCF by Random*Source. I’ll have to build an inverter to help it resonate. Also got a Sense module from Bastl, to develop my mineral water audio analysis toolkit.

Visited Mental Alaska back2baSICs PARTY in Kannelmäki yesterday. Heard Viktor Toikkanen, who played a live programming gig using Tidal. This was the first time I’ve seen live programming (other then our Masku Movement sessions in ~2008) and it was great. I could identify some terms in the score (it was projected on the wall) and anticipate changes, which made the performance feel analytical. Bought a cassette from him too. Actually… There weren’t that many live coding moments. Toikkanen mainly triggered events he had programmed for the record. Some triggers pushed his computer to the limits and we could hear soundcard buffer overload crashes and glitches. I think this digi-materiality was an important part of the presentation. Glitches felt like real grains pushing trough the code. It echoed hardcore rock moments when artists push their amps to max.

The Internet’s Mid-Life Crisis (2019) The Agenda. Cory Doctorow argues that the internet is not broken, everything bad we see happening to it, such as facebook etc., corporate control of the infra and espionage of citizen, is a result or symptom of capitalism. After some weighing all guests seem to agree that some kind of legislation of the internet is needed to move forward (I think this would make the internet a part of the democratic domain).

Our exhibition opening at Oksasenkatu 11 was nice. A lot more people then I expected and mainly new faces. I’ll be on site to meet visitors for some glögi, sound lounging and fun. Dates: 18.-20.12 (12-18:00), 27.12 (12-18:00). Crossroads launch & seminar at SOLU went well too. Had the pleasure to meet Leena Valkeapää, she felt like a wild thinker. There were around 20 people at the event, which was just enough the make the space to feel crowded (at times). I got a lot of nice compliments on my talk on Earth Art Conservation.