20200217

Participated in a field recording workshop by Alan Courtis at Solu. The event was a little bit too short but it still rewarding to participate in. Courtis offered a fast introduction to the topic and shared an interesting observation: Before the invention of studios, every recording was a field recording. We listened to some of the earliest captured sounds and worked ourselves up to recent bioacoustic releases, discussing the relationship of human made and natural sounds. Francisco López and Jana Windferen were mentioned as examples of artist whose work is hyper-real, meaning that they use technologies which allow them to capture events in the unhuman spectrum. It was noted that field recordings have become accepted as an artform in their own right following a similar trejectory as photography. It was particularly fun that Courtis mentioned a few railway related releases. Both work as great references for making something out of the Trans-Siberian sound collection.

The mazizone will prepped and I made a sign to guide bypassangers to join the network. Used my own handwriting for the texts and cut the text out of vinyl. While working it I was reminded by my mother who opposed learning page layout programs arguing that her handwriting is perfectly fine. She mustered trough the 90ties making print layouts by hand.

Notes on Craft (2020) Jem Calder. A motivating story on how to keep developing as an artists, while grinding a day job. The text ends with a warning: As we loose leisure time, art making will be (yet again) made a leisure activity of the rich.

Unable to angle my monitor away from prying administrative eyes […] I wrote in the address bar of my web browser, in spreadsheet cells, in emails I addressed to myself.

20200214

The Mazizone local network archive I’ve been setting up for my Raspi3+ is stable and working well. I have occasional problems connecting to it and I need to “forget” the network to reset certificates. But this only happens when I’m login in and out intensively for tweaks & edits. The device reboots daily to prevent these kinds of clogs. I haven’t gotten Gammu (to produce daily status updates via sms) working but with the reboot cycle enabled I’m confident that the device will run well enough.

I build the sound archive using wordpress and it looks fresh. Using wordpress in Mazi causes issues with the network url but this is manageable (it redirects visitors to portal.mazizone.eu which is ok for me). I’m now planning to build a funky case for the device and to make an inviting sign which will guide visitors to the network and archive. While making the website I got the idea of using ornamental patterns as illustrations. I also used ornaments in the eurorack case I build for the trip. When I was designing the case I tough the Byzantine style decorations as a reference to early natural sciences (which my work on mineral waters touches). This spawned the idea to add ornamental figures to the thumbnails of the sound files in the archive.

Each sound file (53) has a unique photo assigned to it. The photos set a mood for the content and give a hint of the sound. Photos were shot during our train trip by Iona Roisin, Elina Vainio and Miina Hujala. On top of each photo is a layer of different ornamental shapes. They twirl around the thumbnail corners and interact with things and people in the images. I’ve used Kid3 to add the images to the .wav files. If I’ve understood correctly .wav’s don’t have thumbnails but Kid3 manages to embed the data anyway. The default wordpress media playlist widget can source the images from the files and display them next to the track info.

Now there are ornaments everywhere!

I like over the top ornaments which have an abundance of detail. In Russia I can spot them everywhere. They are used in architecture (Corinthian pedestals and window frames), street lamps, fonts, advertisements, jewelry and clothes. Sometimes the patterns look familiar. Shapes I’ve seen in Russia appear to fuse Byzantine style decorations with folk ornaments I worked with during my carpentry studies. I can recognize a patterns being identical to a traditional woodcarving I’ve seen in Finland. Pirtanauhat and kauluslaudat are good examples.

I guess ornaments appeal to me because they link traditional Finnish crafts with Byzantine history and even contemporary Islamic and Arabic cultures. We visited a folk culture museum in Kazan and many of the Islamic artifacts in the collection looked similar stuff I’ve seen in Finnish folk culture museums (particularly the wooden objects). Some of the clothes looked like something my mother would want to wear. Styles I link to Bedouin folk gowns that are decorated with coins, felt really similar to Russian military uniforms which are decorated with medallions.

The ornaments I’m using for the archive and the thumbnails remind me of weeds. I think they link the archive to “ruins” which Miina is interested in. I think ornaments should be read as celebration of decay. They simulate nonhuman futures by imagening how plant life will take over architecture. They feel like archaic glitch art! Sometimes ornaments in clothes look like roots or blood vessels. I think Scandinavian design aesthetic read ornaments as a vanity but if we approach them as a celebration of decay there is nothing vane in embracing them. I hate Scandinavian design because it makes me feel ashamed of my appetite for details.

Using ornaments to decorate a sound archive, which is difficult to access – Feels right and embedding weed-like ornaments inside metadata makes sense. Here is a low-resolution sample of what the archive looks like when browsed using a mobile phone.

20200130

What an exiting day. I got a Mazizone installation running on my Raspi3+! I can now host a local access etherpad service, open a file sharing box or a wordpress installation (among other things). Here is a short explanation why these kinds of “Digital Sovereignty” projects are important. (The project also has a faint link to urban farming, as one partner for the project has been Prinzessinnengarten) Feels great and only took 10 hours of manic computer work to figure out. I’m preparing to share my Trans-Siberian Railway sound collection using a Mazizone which is specifically set up for the Alkovi space at Hämeenkatu. Here is are my notes on getting the system running for this setup.

  1. Etcher > mazizone-v3.1.1.img (or 2020XXXX_alkovi-mazizone.dmg)
  2. SD card to RPi3+, boot and wait for ssid: mazizone
  3. Setup (Set location: lat, lon 60.187174, 24.953562) and change password
  4. Expand Storage > Reboot
  5. Browser to local.mazizone.eu:4567/admin > Disable unused apps
  6. Set USB1 wifi dongle (panda06) for “Internet connection” and set “Internet Network Mode” to “online”
  7. ssh pi@10.0.0.1. Change password using raspi-config and sudo apt update > sudo apt full-upgrade and reboot
  8. Setup DS3231 clock for stability. Sudo apt-get install i2c-tools, set locale using raspi-config and configure module using ssh. Guidelines for battery setup (in short supply it 3,3v).
  9. Applications > WordPress > Set up WP (don’t mess with the URL settings in WP)
  10. Change WIFI ssid: Alkovi (no password) and reconnect
  11. Change Portal Domain “in-various-stages-of-ruins.eu”
  12. Assign WordPress as “homepage” and set bigger upload file-size via Admin > Settings > Apache max file size: 500M
  13. Don’t change WordPress url (Test if changing step 8 order would help in clean urls for wp. Edit: no effect, see: Changing domain for wordpress not possible.)
  14. Update WordPress and themes, make them pretty (one page for sound, one page for info) and upload Trans-Siberian railway sound collection.
  15. Setup cron for daily reboot cycle:  sudo nano /etc/cron.d/alkovirebootcycle > 15 2 * * * root /sbin/shutdown -r now
  16. Add > dtoverlay=pi3-act-led,gpio=19 to /boot/config.txt to allow sd-card activity to be shown on an external red-led (protected with 470Ω resistor for good measure).
  17. Make duplicate of the SD card as backup.
  18. Test everything, break everything and re-do everything.

Later: External shutdown button (python?), how can I get it to “sms report home” (will old Huawei E1550 I’ve stashed work out of the box or should I configure it somehow?). experiment with PiFmRds(?) and enjoy.

20200128

I’m working on a Trans-Siberian Rails and Stations 2019 sound pack for Freesound.org. Currently adding descriptions and meta-data (locations & tags) to the files. I have some three hours of raw material to work trough (excluding a 40 min interview with our train steward, which I wont release unedited). Majority of the clips are 5 min long and they focus on complete work cycles (eg. break check at a station, bathing in a toilet) and ambiences from different locations (eg. restaurant wagon, cabin by night). Majority of the sounds were captured during our 180 hour return trip Vladivostok-Helsinki.

There are a some Trans-Siberian train related clips and a lot of train sounds on Freesound. Martin Sadoux has released a nice collection Russia Trans-Siberian Train in 2018. He has a good recording from the open third class wagons (which I don’t have). The collection I’m prepping will compliment previous releases well. I’m particularly proud of my recording of a break check at a station and I also collected a lot of interesting announcements. I also have some special sounds like the rattling of a samovar (using contact mics).

Miina made an interesting remark about my collection. Finnish explores of the early 20tieth century collected geological samples in hopes of tapping to natural resources and items made by other cultures or groups to develop ethnic narratives. Bringing stuff back home and displaying it for the public was an important gesture in the process of producing cultural capital for the developing Finnish state. Displaying stuff others had made here, illustrated our distance. The act of displaying stuff and material, validated the work of the explorers. Many ethnographic museums got started this way and the contemporary souvenir business echoes this.

My delight over a break-check sound, is a delight over a conquest of a rare resource. Field recordings can be identified as a geologic-like-wealth! Controlled distribution of this material makes it possible for me to harvests cultural capital. Could this process be put to good use? I don’t see hope in returning to esrek-like lisencing models. How could I share the material in a non-exploitative manner? Emphasizing movement to location: Playing the sounds in a Finnish train as the train is moving?

I’ve sometimes explained performances as condensed behavior which is informed by a site: A particular performance is only possible in a particular situation. This idea works better in Finnish: “esiintyminen” means acting, exhibiting or performing and is very close to the word “esiintymä” which means a geological deposit of ore. My condensed behavior on the Trans-Siberian railway trip made it possible to harvest documentations of events, where the train and people of the train performed in interesting ways. I was mining these event using my recorder.

Spotted interesting eurorack projects on the Freesound blog. CTAG Strämpler is a module which connects to the Freesound API and allow users to download sounds directly from the service. BeagleBoom works in the same. Really interesting and specific devices.  I’m tempted to make an eurorack module which would only play sounds of particular event. A module dedicated to playing news reels and interview covering a specific public protests or animal? YLE should make something similar for their archive.

Saw Earth (2019) Nikolaus Geyrhalter at DocPoint festival. It was a really dull film which failed in its attempt to hide the fetishization of mining equipment and wastelands. There is nothing wrong in exploring toxicities. The directors attempt to disguise their interest into a moralistic sermon was perverse.

20191030

Re-reading Performance Architecture (2011) Alex Schweder: “Which came first, the buildings or the actions they house, is perhaps not the most productive way of asking the question” he begins and continues “[w]e build buildings so that we have a place to perform habituated actions, and conversely the buildings that preceded our arrival in part determine our behavior.”

His description of a performance called Flatland (2007) brings to mind our recent Trans-Siberian cabin arrangements: The compactness of the cabin space authored our social interactions. Interestingly he also questions how to document embodied experiences: “[…] the most accurate documentations of Flatland are the divergent and immaterial oral histories, rumors, grudges and friendships. Through Flatland, I came to understand architecture as a series of social relations intimately constituted by and tied to an object.” […] “we have found immaterial performative factors such as duration, emotional predispositions, and interpersonal chemistries are what most impacts our experiences of a space. ”

I agree! Spatial and social relations are indistinguishable. Social relations are performances of our spatial distance from other bodies. If we take for granted that concepts such as “freedom of speech” are not about legislation or cultural norms, but about relations between people. Then how public spaces are build, determine if “freedom of speech” can be performed. I.e. If there is an affordance for self- and co-determined relations or assemblies (as Butler calls them) to form autonomously. Similarly the perceived comfort / discomfort of a space manifests the performative affordances the design offers occupants. Interestingly distances can only be measured between separate bodies of mass, which implies that entities which maneuver spatially perform a sense of self-awareness (Movement is awareness #ॐ).

As budgets are slashed, attention spans shorten and professional activities become eventalized; the cultural object – no longer preeminent – veers into product, turns into activity, de-materializes into performance. Cultural production as process. […] Notions of building performance, performance as construction, the rendering of the socio-political experience of the individual in space, or the architectural program as an urban script reaching beyond the specification of typologies to prescribe behavioral patterns are all converging to formulate new paradigms of spatial practice.

Architecture, like performance, has always contained the energies of live bodies. Both fields structure the behavior of their participants, but until this time architecture had always named the bodily actions and relations it contains and constructs ‘program’. For example, the program architects call ‘house’ uses its built form to instruct occupants where to enter, eat, sleep, fornicate, wash, socialize, et cetera. The partitions in our buildings are built to script the actions of those who inhabit them. Architectural cues let people know what to do where, when, and for how long – much like the script for a performance.

The way a performance is documented impacts the way it will be historicized. For those who do not experience the performance live, visual documents coupled with the oral history of the original performance take on a life of their own. Photographic documentation of architectural performances can play a large role in the way that we use architecture to construct our subjectivity.

There are also an interesting passage on “building-time” which Schweder argues as being slower then human-time. I think he’s right. Buildings perform across generations. They are also lived, meaning they are modified, remade and demolished simultaneously by their habitats. Materials can which make the building can also be repurposed. I’d like to extend this concept to cover “tool-time”: Tools also perform across generations and convey the technical thinking of the episteme they were conceived in. The grip of a tool educates a used on how it is yielded. They are also lived (modified and remade) and adapt to changes in technical thinking (or demand). Sometimes tools conceal their functions, to pass trough times when their intrinsic use-value is not in demand (I have a set of surgical knives and pliers I use for hobby-crafts, when the time is right they can be recommissioned as surgical instruments). Art as a technic is packed with concealed functions: Performance art is the tai-ji of social change.