16 Oct 2009

port-o-port for radio futura

a live radio project programmed and presented by Sally Ann McIntyre for RADIO FUTURA, the official radio station of the FuturePlaces 2009 digital media festival, Porto, Portugal. Port-O-Port is a night of live radiophonic performances simulcast from the future, from the physical location of Chicks Hotel, Port Chalmers, New Zealand (8-10pm), to the previous morning in Portugal as a breakfast show (8-10am).


This transmission thinks through time and distance from the eccentric perspective of the periphery, avoiding major byways to perceived centres of culture in favour of a focus on the threads and tributaries of the small, the specific and the localised, celebrating the pockets of communicative possibility among non-hierarchical networks rendered possible with current communicative technologies. It asks how we may conceive of locality, avoiding a contextless 'global' perspective on our era in favour of looking to ways of jumping time and space to translate one specific time period in one particular location, to that of another.

Before the early 1920s transmission by professor Robert Jack across his laboratory in the Otago University Physics dept., radio's pre-history in Dunedin belongs to maritime radio and DIY 'pirate' experimenters who rode the airwaves. Since this time, sound experiment in the locale has been strongly tied to place, whether this be a focus on the landscape, or, as has been suggested by discussion around the Dead C's particular brand of "port chalmers folk music" tonalities equally influenced by the industrial sounds of the waterfront.

Interrogating the notion of the 'live' space when it comes to the disembodied, yet instantaneous space of transmission, we revisit the history of telematic arts in a particularly New Zealand idiom, self consciously playing with a cultural mindset which historically privileges the idea of isolation, disconnection and distance.

The location of Chicks Hotel, Port Chalmers, with its status as a current hub for local exploratory music, with current proprietor, filmmaker Hector Hazard, at the helm, extends a history of the Port as concentrated site of cultural production. All the artists in this broadcast are practitioners with connections to Dunedin, and all have chosen to use radiophonics and place as their themes, whether this be the direct sonification of the labyrinthine architectural possibilities of the Hotel's architecture, or an elaboration on the fictions of the historic as future dreams.

featuring live performances by Pete Gorman, Radio Cegeste (with Motoko Kikkawa), Alex MacKinnon, Discomedusae (with Edie Stevens and Sally Ann McIntyre) and a restaging of a performance by the Dunedin Shortwave Radio Orchestra.

Presented as a radio programme live within Chicks Hotel (Dunedin, NZ) and over the airwaves of Radio Zero (Porto, Portugal), by Sally Ann McIntyre, on 16th October 2009.


artists' bios:


Large raw electrodes placed in the soil of Chicks Hotel's basement are massively amplified to produce a rich textural lively mains hum, which is used as the input signal for four handmade gated oscillators, forming a performable instrument. Ambient light within the venue is collected on solar panels that power oscillators creating a real time sonification of the lightscape. Microphones from outside the building carry live sounds from the close-by container port. These multiple sources are combined to create a real time en-situ re-imagining of the building's internal electric field, lightscape and external soundscape.




Through a live process of acoustic multiplication and manipulation, the pushing and pulling of resonant frequencies in real time, Alex MacKinnon seeks to cast the architecture of the performance space in sound, and use this cast as a substructure for further sonic improvisations. The broadcast of one space to another, the transmission of architecture, from Port Chalmers to Porto, is treated as the means for a focus on the materiality of space, and a translation of one space to another. In broadcast MacKinnon gives to the Porto audience a cast, and the Port Chalmers audience a performance inside of the mold.




Drawing on previous radiophonic investigations into the local area, Radio Cegeste constructs an experimental, expanded radio documentary which sites the seemingly empirical and observational collection of location recordings within a structure attentive to the contingencies of memory, and the unreliability of historical narrative. Based in and around Chicks Hotel, itself the historically notorious site of murders and press-ganging, Radio Cegeste revisits the beginnings of NZ radio broadcast history and combs the local electromagnetic spectrum for traces of ship stories and chinese whispers.




a restaging of a historic radio art event performed in 1997 by the Super 8 collective. Original performance at Otago Settlers museum, of which original participant Amos Mann said this in an email:

"Then the shortwave radios - about 10 or 12 (maybe more) lined up around one side of the Hutton theatre. Some were old, some were a little newer - maybe 70s models. Then in pitch blackness the piece began. There may have been some glow from other radios, but I remember not being able to tell which knob was which, nor work out which sounds it was that were coming from 'my' radio: I would get carried away and think 'wow, i'm doing something really cool now' but then realise that there was no sound coming from 'mine'. from memory: there was an escalation at the beginning leading to quite frantic sound changes and 'cuts' in and out of stations. I remember thinking: 'Hey, I hear a voice, or a song, maybe I can find something like that on this radio'. Then I wondered if we were all 'station chasing' each other or something... After a while it became a little calmer and there was longer sections from particular stations audible: various languages, music, static, code, etc. There may have been another swell of sounds. When it ended I thought I would have like to have more of the passage just before the end, which had fewer longer held elements for a short period."



The only non-residents of Dunedin participating in this transmission will be casting in telematically themselves from the port town of Wellington, NZ, playing blindly in collaboration with participants in Port Chalmers. The use of obsolete cellphones and mini FM supplements a pair of scissors as sound generating devices, each scissor (as one part of a split pair) to be contact mic'd and scraped across the architecture of the place where the players reside, reading it as stylus, a sonification then sent via cellphone to the other participant, in an experiment harking back to a 1970s piece by the Scratch Orchestra "from Auckland, NZ to Angelsea, North Wales by Air" which connected scratch orchestra groups in an Auckland hall at 8pm, and in a field at Angelsea, at 8am.


with thanks to Ricardo Reis, Radio Zero, Radia, Amos Mann, Alastair Galbraith, Nigel Bunn, Hector Hazard, Chicks Hotel, the Port Chalmers Regional Maritime Museum, Markus Gradwohl for the wonderful photography, and most especially all the participating artists.


FuturePlaces 2009 presents RADIO FUTURA
The official FuturePlaces radio station
Broadcasting live during FuturePlaces 2009 digital media festival.
October 14-17, 2009
Porto, Portugal
A joint venture between Future Places and RĂ¡dio Zero.