A selection of the Trans-Siberian Railway -Sound Archive is now available on Freesound. There are 35 clips (1.7gb) and I think the gps data mapping of the recordings alone tells a nice story. I’ve included Helsinki as a part of the Trans-Siberian railway network… As it was intended when the Tsar had our rails build. The archive would work great as background noise for a train-story/documentary or for train themed games. I think some clips might work as chopped samples too. The indexing of the files is a bit messy but there are real gems in the mix. My favorite clips are:
I’m listening to them while writing and I can feel the sounds vibrating my phone, which makes the clips feel material, like thin peals of the trip. Miinas note that the archive is linked with geology (or the process of harvesting geological samples for profit) feels acute. I like that the samples have interference sounds and occasionally my hands can be heard touching the mic. The interference makes the surrounding medias physical, it shows the limits of the recording technology and adds to the appeal. There is a clip were the microphone passes an x-ray machine for example. The material disturbances make me think of Viktor Toikkanen when he pushed his laptop to memory overload glitch territory when live-coding.
Our In Various Stages of Ruins exhibition series continues at Alkovi. The current exhibition titled Toxicity will be build gradually through the end of the summer towards the fall. Currently there are photos from the Town of Asbest on display, my humble C-Cassette recording we made with Jesse titled Two Men Coughing in the Woods (2020) and a set of DIY orthopedic supports I made for my feet (mentioned earlier).
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.
A Promise to Aspen (2018) Mari Keski-Korsu. A text from BODY OF US exhibition publication. Keski-Korsu exposes the industrial undertone of contemporary Finnish forestry and calls its global expansion efforts to shame. The text offers an interesting reading of harvesters by comparing the distance they provide their operators to the distance “war machines” have given to battle. The text celebrates trees, but I’m not sure if “trees” even exist. I find it hard to empathize with them. They live in a different timeframe, continue living as logs and I have no idea what they enjoy. Aspens for one are not individuals, they are closer to ecologies. I don’t know what trees are. I agree with Keski-Korsu that anthropomorphisation is not a problem, it’s a solution because it exposes the power dynamics of our relations with non-humans (this idea comes from Jason Hribal).
The forests can be considered as an oppressed group because they simply have no say over how humans manage them or use the wood. Patricia Hill Collins defines in her book Black Feminist Thought (1990) the matrix of domination and how intersections of oppression are structurally organized. I believe these domains of power can be analyzed and used as an empathy exercise with any group – human or non-human.
Anthropomorphisation doesn’t mean that we shut out species’ specific needs. On the contrary, it helps humans to understand. It should be in the toolbox of new empathy. The kind of new empathy could bring human species to some kind of other level, to make more balanced narrative for this species. After all, empathy has been a building block for the flourishing of this species as it can be considered a basis for collaboration.
Today is our second tree-sound session with Johannes. Build a monstera leaf shaped wooden contact mic frame (I’ll glue four piezos to it). My dremel broke (attempted to grind trough 9mm birch plywood) and it’s not the same issue as last time (got a new one used for 35€). Bought an oscilloscope for 35€ (some potentiometer contacts need cleaning).
Listening to There Existed an Addiction to Blood (2019) Clipping. Hits a nerve while cycling in the gloomy darkness of Helsinki. The beats, broken as they are, feel warm. The lyrics are incredible hip-hop/noise-noir. I identify heavily with the Death Stranding main character Sam Bridges. I haul everything on my back. I particularly remember taking all my tools to Pyhäjoki in the spring using three banana-fruit boxes (pulling them on a cart) and two backpacks. Barely fit trough the train doors and I think I damaged my shoulder on the trip. Not having a driver’s license is starting feel like a burden. Carrying materials, instruments and tools to job-sites and gigs doesn’t feel fun and I feel the trauma of past efforts weighing in on me. Like reversed bodybuilding. My feet get sore from excess walking, my back aches when I lift shit (still feel a CNC machine I pulled inside a van 2002) and shoulders hurt from the tremors of my crappy power-tools.
My income is based on my able-bodiedness and recovering takes longer then it used to. I fear I’m loosing gigs because I can’t bounce back to working condition as fast. I need some kind of transportation to carry my gear around. Or change the way I work. I want to evolve into middle management.
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!
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. They also help in distributing authorship of the happening.
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.