31 Jan 2009

For the exhibition and performance event Oh9 at None studios, 24 Stafford St, Dunedin, radio cegeste created a radio program as a localised homage to Stafford Street's grass-roots warehouse culture, reflecting on Dunedin's long history of underground artist run spaces and associated public and private environments as facilitative of experimental and improvised music, and a personal history as an organiser, listener, DJ and general observer-participant ('recording angel') within such situations.

The raw material of broadcast comprised selections from a personal archive of minidisc lapel-mic field recordings of experimental music performances and practice sessions. Like the Mini-FM transmitter, and perhaps in another sense the Dunedin improvised noise music tradition itself, these recordings give away the mythology of accuracy of reproduction and playback to emphasise the contextual making and listening space of experimental music culture. Such archival documentary recordings can not be understood as pure or accurate representations of musical events, but as environmental recordings, functioning in this context as audible traces of a wider inaudible, ghostly archival palimpsest, which may be physically erased, but lingers on as a mappable cultural listening space in social and anecdotal histories, as well as in the physical nature of the radio spectrum.

Broadcasting within the liminal, transitional space of the None Gallery stairwell, in collaboration with artist, musician and None Gallery resident Toki Wilson on guitar feedback, baby monitors and shortwave radio, and with added input from Richard Scowen's handmade circuit-bent synth-radios, this broadcast by radio cegeste operated as a temporal and conceptual segue between the electronic arts exhibition in the gallery above and the music performances in the basement space venue below.

Recorded sound sources utilised in the broadcast included: Lines of Flight, 2000 and 2006 [Gate, Crude, Sandoz Lab Technicians, A Handful of Dust, Richard Francis, Sam Hamilton, EYE, and others], Matt Middleton at None Gallery 2004, Damo Suzuki at Arc café in 2007, (in collaboration with Alastair Galbraith, Alan Starrett, Jim Currin, Tristan Dingemans, and others), various broadcast and unbroadcast live interviews and conversations with musicians, and other relevant live and re-recorded sonic ephemera.

On the day that we heard reports of the recently elected National Government's plans to push ahead with Section 92A, a bill which will mean critical changes in laws governing New Zealand online copyright, it seemed appropriate to hope that the evening's activated and audible airwaves might serve as a source of critical commentary on the nature of artistic freedom, as a sound source which could be channelled into this performance's – and None Gallery and the 09 event's - wider reiteration of the important critical place for independent artistic activity utilising technology and communication, whether this be transmission-based or otherwise.

Markus Grahwohl's striking photographs of the event can be found here
Matt Middleton's critical overview is on the Crude blog here

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