28 Nov 2011

"dear friends who have died are all talking to me tonight / all at once..." : a late-night transmission at rice & beans

continuing the series of programmes which spatially sonifies gallery spaces via small-scale transmission, radio cegeste set up a radio show after midnight in the empty room of artist run space rice & beans, located in inner city dunedin and run throughout 2011 by a small collective, on the final day of the space's lease by its current occupiers, a few days after the final show (dan bell's 'alluvial atomiser') had closed.

narrowcasting back a sound library of 5 minute recordings i had collected during a single day (the 18th march 2009) spent wandering around galleries in central christchurch, "dear friends who have died are all talking to me tonight / all at once..." became a meta-reflection on the afterlife of small-scale, independent art spaces and groups, with the re-spatialisation and layering of a series of spaces which now literally do not exist, after the february 2011 eathquake decimated the gallery sector of inner city christchurch.

as a site-specific solo performance, the piece re-constructed and re-imagined personal and public memory through the medium of transmission. the spatial memories of the eight destroyed christchurch spaces in question comprised a sound-diary which infiltrated in synergistic manner into another space with its own specific memory, which as well as being a gallery space, has been a living space and studio zone for artists and musicians for decades.

small clusters of radio receivers, constantly shifted around the space, picked up the signal from a stationary mini FM transmitter but also engaged with each other, chattering and heterodyning, seemingly becoming analogous to groups of people talking at a gallery opening, and interjecting the night airwaves of dunedin, full of noise, clashing frequencies, and etheric vocal infiltrations, into what is usually perceived as the bounded space and temporal amnesia of the 'white cube'.

the traces of the christchurch spaces' specificities, including footsteps, familiar voices, and the particular artworks they contained at the time of recording, became imperfectly audible in dunedin's airwaves for an hour, a layering of the sonic spaces of eight galleries into another space and time, these field recordings' cyclic loops, broken off-frequency oscillations, doppler effects and garbled spatial conglomerations create a mapping of the space, and further conflate the everyday sounds of rice and beans' last night of existence in its current form, to create a 'graveyard shift' live radio programme of poignant materialities.

this transmission builds on a previous narrowcasting of the species of spaces christchurch gallery sound library as a 5 minute event score for marsupial project space in 2009, and also the previous transmission transfiguration for winter light and folded time at rice & beans in may 2011, also broadcast as a programme entitled transfiguration for winter light and folded time (sky wave, ground wave) on radio real, lisbon, july 2011.

with thanks to campbell walker for documentation, and to elle loui august and rice & beans.