May 31, 2009

MacKinnon/McIntyre/Noyes


a collaborative improvisation session on the afternoon of May 30th at NONE with Lee Noyes and Alex MacKinnon produced a 55min recording, an excerpt of which Lee considered strong enough to post to his blog on NetNewMusic, calling it 'Art, I see you Lately in your Energy', here

he had this to say about it:

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A new track:

10:22.402min excerpt from 55min improvisation recorded 30 May 2009.

AlexanderMacKinnon: Guitar/FX/TapeSampling/Electronics (Centre-Right Channel)
SallyAnnMcIntyre: Violin/ContactMics/BroadcastRadio&Recievers (Right Channel)
LeeNoyes: Percussion (Left Channel) & Processing/FeedbackElectronics (Centre-Left Channel)

First meeting by this group of NoneGallery, Dunedin-based artists. Further work, both as an ensemble and with Recordings should yield a release sometime 2009.

"Parsing through ether"

May 15, 2009

the regent theatre 24hour booksale


the regent theatre 24 hour booksale is a bit of an institution in Dunedin. set in the grand environs of the centrally located old proscenium palace, it seems like the whole city comes out for the event. the live music played here in the past has included such under-appreciated milestones as the set by Alastair Galbraith committed to tape and released by Bruce Russell on Xpressway in 1987 as side A of 'Hurry on Down', Alastair's first solo release after The Rip. Alastair has this to say about that release on the website of his label, Emperor Jones:

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"One side of it was recorded live at a gig to benefit the Regent Theatre, a large theatre in Dunedin that the owners never stopped doing up. They would get musicians to play for nothing for 24 hours over a Friday and Saturday. It was a chance to play to a horribly mainstream audience of people browsing through second hand books that had also been donated to the theatre. I really stupidly agreed to do a 3am performance and went to sleep and woke up at 2:30am and went down there with Bruce. He recorded the whole thing, but I was under the influence of something very strange, I can't remember what, and when I listen to it I can tell that I wasn't fully awake. The other side was a result of Bruce coming to the warehouse where I was living at that time and asking me if I'd written any songs. I said I'd written about eight or nine and he said 'play them all to me'. I played them one after the other for him and he recorded them on a walkman. I honestly thought he was recording them for personal listening, but he released it! It was good of him, but within a few months of it being out I said to him that I never really knew at the time it was recorded that he was going to release it, and that I would quite like a go at giving him something slightly better, and so there was a first and second edition. Just prior to this, a friend who was an elderly woman I used to do gardening for (and I had known since I was twelve) had asked me out of the blue what I would most like materialistically, and I thought for a while and said 'a four-track recording machine'. Later, she came back into the room with a cheque that was almost enough to buy a second hand one. So I was learning how to record myself at that point and was able to give Bruce slightly better versions of some of the songs."

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wandering around making location recordings of this year's booksale I was able to capture, if not a Galbraith in the making, at least the odd aural spectacle of an elderly female voice reading a medical textbook section about the eye, and a briefly sketched out history of the booksale's cultural import by the woman who wrapped my finds in newspaper, as well as a slightly earlier conversation with the poet David Howard, which ended with him being asked, and refusing, to read to the collected silently browsing audience, and nominating me as a likely alternative.

thanks, David...



last gasp of the DJ, Lines of Flight 2009

I was offered an impromptu DJ slot at the legendary Dunedin experimental music festival Lines of Flight on Friday, filling in for Peter Kirk, who hosts the experimental radio show A'sides for Betaville, which I have been sporadically involved with since its beginnings in late 2007 on Lyttelton's independent broadcast station Volcano 88:5FM.

Despite being currently fairly uninterested in live DJing (apart from the prospect of developing a no-electricity set with wind up gramophones), the challenge of providing a segue from artist to artist, something i'd become used to thinking-through on a regular basis during my organisational involvement hosting monthly events with the Borderline Ballroom experimental music group in Christchurch from 2007-8, led to something pleasingly minimal, near-inaudible, and raw, heavy on field recordings and live outtakes.

While I didn't go in the A'sides direction of maximalism and kept everything gesturally restrained to the laptop and a single CDJ, a lot of the audio was sourced from my archive of bootleg recordings, many featuring people present in the room, with the general idea of not competing with the music, but providing a convivial, yet stimulating ambiance. Less cegeste than 'suggest' for a night, I felt rather privileged to be able to provide such transitions for the sounds of
Peter Wright (Christchurch), Crude (Dunedin), EYE (Dunedin), and the wonderful Xe (Auckland - (Rachel Shearer, Guy Treadgold, Sean O'Reilly, and Dean Roberts)).


May 11, 2009

imaginary media / the legacy of professor robert jack


In the “Second Introduction to an Archaeology of Imaginary Media,” Eric Kluitenberg writes that one of the tasks of the discipline of media archaeology is to scour the historical archive – “stories, drawings, prints, films, songs, advertisements or quasi-philosophical imaginaries” – for the utopian dreams of potential or possible media forms that might “compensate for the inherent flaws and deficiencies of interpersonal communication."

Siegfried Zielinski, one of the first scholars to use the term "media archaeology," breaks down the category of imaginary media into three groups of phenomena in his essay in the same text, "Modelling Media for Ignatius Loyola":

untimely media: media realized in technical and media practice either long before or after their invention

conceptual media: media sketched, modeled or drafted but not actually built

impossible media: media which cannot actually be built but nevertheless express ideas which impact the factual world of media

Slavoj Zizek’s book on the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, Organs Without Bodies, argues not only that the emergence of the New is Deleuze’s central concern, but that for Deleuze, the New only emerges through repetition. In other words, the creation of something truly new always involves a kind of repetition. What is being repeated, though, “is not the way the past ‘effectively was’ but the virtuality inherent to the past and betrayed by its past actualization”. In other words, imaginary media present us with a series of possibilities for actions in the present precisely because they never fully appeared in the past.

By way of positioning the political project of media archaeology, Zielinski writes:

"[T]he main purpose of this archaeological work is to counter current tendencies towards standardization and universalization in the interest of a uniform global market with the rich variety of variants offered by bygone eras. If archaeology is the principal method for this special form of historical research, then variantology is the tactic (in the Foucauldian sense) by which individual genealogies are to be unravelled from its wealth of varieties."

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visiting the University of Otago's physics department with Nigel Bunn the other day (he was picking up a trolleyful of oscillators which, no longer used in the classroom, were going to be thrown away), we were shown around the labyrinthine environs of the teaching facilities by Paul Yates. the chance find of Robert Jack's transmitter sitting in a cupboard - the actual machine used in the first NZ broadcast, c.1921 (an exceptional imaginary moment in the history of our communications media), was predicated, after a wonderful, rambling tour of all sorts of nooks and crannies of obsolete technologies and teaching aids, by the statement, "oh, you might be interested in this"

... well, yes. I was.

an excerpt from Robert Jack's original broadcast can be heard here

the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography entry on Prof Jack can be found here

a timeline for New Zealand communications history can be read here

environmental radio : radio d' Oiseaux


radio d'Oiseaux is a solar powered radio station for New Zealand native birds. Currently a fieldwork project, it will eventually manifest as series of radio cegeste site specific performances.

as an "environmental radio" and conceptual media project, radio d'Oiseaux looks at the links between transmission, locality and territory.

as a sound-site, the birdsong is a place of trauma and nostalgia in NZ, a situation helped along by its long association with public broadcasting. the public outcry a few years back at the intended removal of field recordings of native avian species, long a temporal marker for news reports on Radio New Zealand National, provided weighty evidence of its cultural place. The presence of bridsong as ‘soundmark’ can be percieved as displaying a memorialising or museological function. To replay already-extant sound has its own embedded politic - the loop itself is a ‘territorialised’ refrain in Deleuze’s terminology – here, Radio New Zealand's treatment of the sounds of birds is a paradigm reiterated in cultural terms by the replay of songs sent to radio stations by record companies. Instead, to deteritorialise this medium’s approach to art, we might learn from talking to the animals.

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“the plan was to put microphones in remote locations uninhabited by humans and to broadcast whatever might be happening out there; the sounds of wind and rain, the cries of birds and animals – all the uneventful events of the natural soundscape transmitted without editing into the hearts of the cities. It seemed to us that since man has been pumping his affairs into the natural soundscape, a little natural wisdom might be a useful antidote”.

“An excess of environmental noise produces sloppy listeners. We no longer listen to the radio, we overhear it. It stays on, shielding us from the coarseness of modern life. Radio has become the birdsong of the twentieth century, decorating the environment with “pretty””

- R. Murray Schafer