20191011

Subscribed to Kusksu a mailing list for sound-art and spotted “Radigue” at Space for Free Arts curated by MIF. The event was a part of Äänen Lumo and offered performances by Clara de Asís & Lauri Hyvarinen, Enrico Malatesta and Thomas Ankersmit. Maletesta played Occam XXVI a composition by Éliane Radigue, which uses two bowed cymbals and a frame drum. The bow agitated the cymbals, forming drones and their resonation transferred between the plates over air. Occasionally Malatesta hover a drum membrane over the cymbals to pickup and amplify low tones. He used sound to play sound over air!

Ankersmit performed “Perceptual Geography” (sample on soundcloud). It was really rewarding to see a serge modular live on stage. There were moments when it felt like he was playing every conceivable sound the same time. He was very loud and the performance was punctual. The execution of the piece felt like an academic study of noise. We were presented with tonal structures and spaces. They appeared abruptly, evolved and then suddenly crashed. It felt like the tones referred to nature. I couldn’t identify what I was listening but I could imagine hearing similar tones in a forest. I only recognize occasional square wave pulses in the beginning and the end of the set.

The piece is based on Ankersmits research on sound artist Maryanne Amacher. Particularly on her work concerning psychoacoustic phenomena and sound spatialization (recently popularized on youtube). During the gig I had the urge to tilt my head, so that I could avoid pain caused by a harsh drone tone. As I turned my head I felt a melody ringing inside my skull. I noticed other audience members bobbing their heads too. The experience was similar to the tingling which high resonance filter sweeps can cause. But this experience was more articulated, like an overtone melody which was forcefully positioned inside my head. The experience was a result of sound spatialization and this was the first time I hear it. I didn’t know it is possible to manipulate the spatial perception of the audience to this extent, let alone intentionally as a part of a performance!

20190610

The reason there are so many cameras at performance events and festivals is that the cameras situate the act to a temporal plane. Every time the shutter strikes the performance is locked tighter to a specific past. Unfortunately when performance art is designed as a set of tasks which the artist completes, this advocates the ideologies of causality and linear progress. The shutter clicks set milestones, looking back at which the audience is tasked to asses the performances current state: “Aha! The previous gestures led to this specific moment – We have witnessed progress, we have arrived”. Cameras compost performances by pinning them to exact moments.

Performance art needs to be constantly documented so that it is demystified. If no photos would be taken, the performance would be eternal and possibly confront the future head on, which is a bad strategy (this taints a future, pollutes it with biases). Good art, makes for good compost #ॐ

Luckily designed tastes, smells and noises offer a route for collective speculation. These are not acts or gestures, they are themselves temporal planes, which the audience is then invited to navigate and explore. This allows the audience to make their own time. Instead of arriving, they are departing. Interestingly a taste never lasts long. They most often feel like first impressions, which are then collectively analyzed and assessed (aftertaste). As people explore a new tastes together, they make sense (trough a mood which the first impression sets!).

I think that this is the way to escape the institutional horizon. I think this is why I’m working with mineral waters (and noise). I guess this is why artist run art spaces are converting into travel agencies: Departure is more important then arrival. Oddly I think the majority of Finnish art is about departure and travel. The travels artist are taking are sometimes more celebrated then the work they have made.

20190317

I have a strong urge to assemble a Elektrosluch. It is a “open-source device for electromagnetic listening”. The design is by Lom audio, which seems like a very fine organization. I’d like to attempt to develop a binaural unit and to experiment listening to the electromagnetic properties of water (when it is electrified in some way) to confirm that different batches of Faux San Pelligriano have the same consistency. I attempted to make an electromagnetic microphone last night (and to listen to it with my new Lm071 preamp) but the loose 3,5mm jack picked up more noise then the coil.

I’m feeling empowered by my new electronics skills but I lack a clear focus. I’m get inspired by everything. I’m trying to keep grounded and set my bearings by listening to still & stretched: a mute tumult of memories (2017) by Heather B. Frasch. Her gig at Control last autumn set a trajectory for my current sound work. Perhaps I should take my eurorack and other loose projects to Jesse’s smithy and attempt to formalize something in relation to the Sound of Work series. There is also the possibility to develop something with Kristian (kettlebells?) or to possibly drone out at Kontula Electronic.

I skipped the Zodiak “men’s advanced dance course” this fall. I have some plans for bodybuilding and holistic kettlebell moves. Here are some inspirational videos.

20181005

Successfully build a Thomas Henry Trigger-to-Switch unit (fitted it into an Altoids tin). It accepts a 5ms trigger input to control an isolated switch (which can be used to sync Boss pedals that have a tap-tempo functionality). Input trigger should be +5V (but also seems to work with 3,3V). Also added a led to the other relay “port”, so that I can monitor the incoming trigger cycles. The unit is “on” when there is no current – I might have to rework the circuit to reverse this but I’m very happy with it for now.

Noise and Capitalism (2009) ed. Mattin Anthony Iles.  Extract from chapter “Noise Theory” by Csaba Toth, which offers a short history of Noise as an expression. Toth writes about Radu Malfatti’s slow and silent pieces like One man and a Fly (2015).

What version of late capitalism is contested in the rise of Noise-based musics? Noise performance, in our view, exercises a culturally coded and politically specific critique of late capitalism, and offers tools for undoing its seemingly incontestable hegemony. To be sure, Noise performance operates in the shadow of recontainment by the very commodity structures it intends to challenge.  But resistance to such commodification continues to occur, and what cultural critic Russel A. Potter says about hip-hop appears to be true also for Noise music: ‘the recognition that everything is or will soon be commodified has … served as a spur, an incitement to productivity.’

Noise is pre-linguistic and pre-subjective. The noise of heavy machinery and the powerful sonic onslaught of a Macintosh PowerBook are acts that actively foreground their materiality and disrupt meaning: ‘what does this Noise mean?’ Harsh textures of sonic forces break down our identities rather than reinforce them.

The book also has an article “Woman Machines: the Future of Female Noise” by Nina Power.

There’s a scene in Dziga Vertov’s 1929 film Man with a Movie Camera which combines footage of women doing a variety of different activities: sewing, cutting film (with Elizaveta Svilova, Vertov’s wife and the film’s actual editor), counting on an abacus, joyfully making boxes, plugging connections into a telephone switchboard, packing cigarettes, typing, playing the piano, answering the phone, tapping out code, ringing a bell, applying lipstick. The cut-up footage speeds up to such a frenzy that at one point it becomes impossible to tell which activity is done for pleasure, and which for work.

Jump forward almost a century and we encounter Jessica Rylan, a woman who makes her own machines, and performs with them so that the overlap between her voice and her creations loses all sense of separation. This is certainly ‘noise’ of a sort, but of an altogether novel kind. Live, Rylan performs a combination of discomforting personal exposure (in the form of a capella songs played with unstinting directness towards the audience) and machinic communing with self-made analogue synthesisers feeding back to eternity and fusing with ethereal, unholy vocals that haunt like cut-up fairy tales told by a sadistic aunt. Whilst occasional shouts for ‘more noise, more pain!’ might be bellowed at her from the floor at Noise nights, what this desire for noise at any cost doesn’t get is how much more effective Rylan’s performance is at revealing the true power of the machine.

If the subterranean history of the relation between women, machines and noise has finally emerged overground as a new Art of Noise that seeks to destroy the opposition of the natural and the artificial, what performers like Rylan represent is an expansionist take-over of the territory. No longer will the machines dream through women, but will instead be built by them. They will be used not to mimic the impotent howl of aggression in a hostile world, but to reconfigure the very matrix of noise itself.

20180921

A Brief History of Electric Guitar Distortion (2018) Polyphonic. A good overview on how poor sound quality became perceived as rich. It’s interesting think about the link blues has with noise. Blues and jazz were considered noisy in their time but eventually they were perceived as elegant and clean. At some point the instruments were removed and we were left with just noise (amps, mixers and pedals). It’s a pity that grooves and noise were separated.

Luckily I was introduced to Clipping whos earlier work like midcity (2013) re-fuze noise with rap (it can be downloaded for free!). Songs like bullshit (2013) and their later work merge noise with grooves – Which seems like a positively disruptive development (in both ways noise->rap & rap->noise).