radio cegeste 104.5 FM is a mini FM radio station hosted as a platform for radio art by the Dunedin, New Zealand based writer and artist Sally Ann McIntyre. Its projects and programmes cohere around a loose set of circumstances and proclivities, including site-specificity, nomadism, the collection of sound libraries, phonography, museology, memory, the haunted materiality of absent presence, old buildings and other historic sites, psychogeography, the performative fragility of small-scale transmission, bird migration and electromagnetism, the complex idea of 'dead air', the recorded and transmitted history of birdsong (sometimes also as the making-audible of the texts of a New Zealand nationalism), and the possibility of an ecology of the radio that doesn't represent unstable systems as functioning in eternal homeostasis.

radio cegeste was originally named after the eponymous poet who dies in the first scenes of Jean Cocteau's 1950 film 'Orphee', and who transmits coded signals from the underworld via the radio waves (via a black Rolls Royce). the station thinks of itself as belonging to an important, if buried non-centralised 'minor' history of radio art, halfway between a 'paper radio', one critically aligned with mail art, and something approaching the 'receiver' of a tuned-in poetics of the aetheric ocean which Jack Spicer so eloquently outlined in his work (eg 'thing language' : "...aimlessly it pounds the shore / white and aimless signals / no-one listens to poetry".) radio cegeste believes strongly in the transformation of its own history as a modernist technology into a ghosting of and picking-over the debris of aspects of that history. it regards its own take on these critical histories as an ongoing series of colonial/modernist "ethers". it's current totem bird is the shining cuckoo, Pipiwharauroa, whose migratory flight along the exact routes by which Maori originally travelled to New Zealand from the Pacific is said to be no small coincidence.


radio cegeste occurs in live and event based situations but is also occasionally a recording project. it has released material on the labels winds measure, Consumer Waste, and/Oar, Idealstate, Flaming Pines, and Gruenrekorder. Sally’s sound work also includes related ongoing research into the materiality of recorded silence, the history of birdsong transcription, and the hauntology of extinction as a trace within sound archives, including the use of pre-electrical sonic inscription and playback mechanisms, such as gramophones, phonographic wax cylinders and music boxes, to bring extinct birdsong back to audibility. these projects have been exhibited in galleries and project spaces in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Germany and the U.S.

sally's practice also spans radio documentary, critical writing, and curatorial and organisational work. She has written critically for print media, and published a lot of poetry in small press literary journals. she's done radio since 1997, and since 2009 she has been involved as an Australasian curator for the international Radia network, which is a curatorial platform for peer-to-peer experimental radio art, commissioning many new works from sound and radio artists in the region. Her interests include environmental history, post-humanism, the history of museums, ethno-ornithology, island ecologies, avian electomagnetic navigation, obsolete technologies, the poetics of erasure and the trace, the possiblity of locality within the globalised, and the cultural and historical situatedness of listening.

contact: staticmansion [at] gmail [dot] com.

--- x ---


"The soundscape ecologist Bryan Pijanowski, at Purdue University, rightfully asks, “if we disconnect with the sounds of nature, will we continue to respect and sustain nature?” It is a serious question, in fact a crucial one, that brings us full circle to the paradox at the center of soundscape ecology: namely, how can we ensure that the amassing of these sounds, however important in a scientific/ecological sense, won’t finally produce only a Museum of Lost Sounds rather than audibly vital habitats?  This is also the point at which soundscape ecology as science elides into art. Huia Transcriptions, by Sally Ann McIntyre, an Australian/New Zealand artist, asks us to listen to a music box in a forest playing the delicate calls of the huia, a New Zealand species of bird that went extinct in 1907 (due primarily to over-hunting by humans who prized its feathers).  McIntyre’s work makes us aware that we are listening to the huia at two removes: not only is the huia extinct, but the sounds we hear are actually re-mediations taken from the work of Mr. H. T. Carver, who had the presence of mind to notate the call of the huia in the late 1800s."

- Amy Fletcher, Eavesdropping on Nature, Zoomorphic, issue 9, November 20, 2017

"There is something profoundly beautiful and nostalgic about McIntyre’s reanimated voices that move beyond defence and into an ethics of care. In the human languages of affect “shame” is considered immensely disabling. Yet it is a collective shame that McIntyre addresses and in this she engages much more than melancholy."

- Susan Ballard, Signal Eight Times: Nature, Catastrophic Extinction Events and Contemporary Art, Reading Room: a Journal of Art and Culture, Auckland Art Gallery, issue 7, June 2015

"Noting the shortcomings of reproducing birdsong, the work becomes an exploration of sound recording media. A phonograph, invented in 1877, sits like a relic in the gallery – although it was as common back then as an iPod is now. There’s also a recording of the musical notation on a phonographic wax cylinder, but it’s so fragile it will be destroyed by its own playback, so McIntyre has provided a digital version of the recording. Sidestepping the interactive and performative elements of the other sound pieces at Mofo, McIntyre draws on the mortality of old media to explore how sound gets lost, abstracted and reinvented by new technology."

- Anna Madeleine, The Sound Art of Mofo 2015: making noise in the art world, The Guardian,
Friday 23 January 2015

"The silence of these recordings is very different from Cagian silence in that we are not truly concerned with the sonic characteristics of the silence. I really appreciate this conceptual approach to a field that is dominated by a discourse of assumed ecological content to any soundscape recording. For me, she is pointing at other ways of engaging ecological themes with sound."

-Ted Apel,  in an interview, 04.02.2014

"as melodies gradually emerge from the ether, one imagines the surprise of discovery, of finding something where nothing was believed to exist.  On multiple occasions, the strings subside completely, leaving a trail of electrical discharge.  This makes The New Zealand Storm Petrel sound nearly hauntological, an impression of an impression, a memory of a memory."

- Richard Allen, review of The New Zealand Storm Petrel, in A Closer Listen, 2014

"Nature Reserves questions whether by imposing names on the natural world we have ourselves created the divide between humanity and nature – but perhaps categorising and naming, while argued to be a violent imposition on a ‘voiceless’ party, is in fact a pure extension of the natural order of things. there is a logic and a rationality inherent in the natural world that is reflected in the way humans have evolved to think: cause precedes effect, related organisms share similar properties, and hierarchies of function exist even without the imposition of a label. as the physicist and philosopher Paul Davies argues, human rational thinking is generated by and dependent upon in the existence of a rational natural world. with this in mind, labelling and categorizing no longer seems ‘violent’ but rather a natural extension of physical categories into our linguistic and conceptual worlds but the real repercussions of our drive to collect and categorise are not so symbiotic with nature. Sally Ann McIntyre’s sound works highlight the damage wreaked on a species subject to the whim of scientific enlightenment. Huia Transcriptions is a mechanical musical notation of the song of the now extinct huia bird from New Zealand. wiped out in 1907 in part due to overzealous natural historians, there are no recordings of its song and only a written account on which McIntyre’s work was based. Collected Silences for Lord Rothschild also confronts the effect of colonialism on New Zealand’s indigenous birds. the recordings of 5 extinct birds, each introduced separately, are acutely silent."

- Cosima Gretton, review of the exhibition Nature Reserves, in Super Collider, 2013

"Among the many highlights of this exhibition, however, it was Sally Ann McIntyre’s work was the most consistently transfixing as well as the most actively engaged with Jeffrey’s original call. Unfortunately, her pieces are also among the few works that are not currently for sale. McIntyre has two pieces in this show: Huia Transcriptions (2012) and Collected Silences for Lord Rothschild (2012). The Huia piece comprises an audio recording of both bird call and music box representation of this call, the music box and paper by which to play this mechanical call yourself, and a heavily disrupted textual comment on how the bird received its name. McIntyre frustrates the reading process by disrupting and reordering the words into an almost indecipherable recodification, so much so that many may give up trying to get any meaning out of it at all.. Don’t! The reward in deciphering what these words say is the key to the piece. The time you spend poring over these disrupted words echoes the time taken to understand and record the sounding of the Huia itself. McIntyre’s method of slowing down the reader’s perception sets a benchmark for the way in which you go on to engage with the audio piece afterwards. The beauty of this work is facilitated by McIntyre insistence that you enact something of the process by which the Huia’s call was first understood and in doing so, incorporate a realization of how and by what means this knowledge is accessed, processed and stored, first hand. In sharp contrast to the music of the Huia piece, McIntyre’s Collected Silences presents the ugly sound of extinction. This time, there is no music; there are no bird calls. In place of these, we hear only the hum of the building in which these dead birds are stored, the occasional murmur from the body of the artist and the monotonous aural imprint of the audio equipment itself. The presence of each of the small sound reels used to make these recordings, in front of you, suggests a link between the presence of these storage methods and materials and the absence of that which is recorded."

- Mark Westall, review of the exhibition Nature Reserves, in Fad Magazine, August 28, 2013.

"In Collected Silences for Lord Rothschild we are told that we will be presented with recordings of the now extinct Laughing Owl (or Whekau). You sit there for ages waiting to hear something other than the gentle sound of a camera, but nothing comes. This poignant work of McIntyre highlights the dark side of natural history: that the act of collecting of Huia and Whekau specimens was instrumental in their extinction. These are silences that cannot ever be filled."

- review of the exhibiton Nature Reserves, in At The Interface: Where Art & Science Meet, 2013

"For contemporary sound artists engaged with environmental matters in which silence plays a role, the question is: How to make dead silence speak? How to represent and deploy it meaningfully and in ways that do not cloak it in the habits of silence associated with Cage and acoustic ecology?" 

- Dugal McKinnon, Dead Silence: ecological silencing and environmentally-engaged sound-art, Leonardo Music Journal, vol. 23, 2013

"Far from the perspective of a collector, a scientist or a contemplative artist, McIntyre’s transceiver picks up sounds, makes itself present, retransmits them in new forms to the place from where they came, returning them as echoes of the silenced or forgotten histories that also permeate the culture of nature."

- Cecilia Novero, Birds on Air: Sally Ann McIntyre's Radio Art, Antennae: the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, issue 27, 2013

"Maybe just below the surface of the nature recording lies the possibility of a critical recording practice, one that doesn’t merely mimic the scientific, nor the nature documentary, or believe in a picture postcard fantasy of nature, way over there. This would be a critical recording practice that questions our assumptions about ecology, rather than continuing long held beliefs in the power of nature."

"At times the recording seems to be searching for survivors like a rescue team that has found the spot of a submersion, but no debris. It’s the sound of magnetic currents and the feedback of stars, the empty pockets between what is said and what is meant, the unexpressed words, tumbling into silence. As such, it’s an intensely lonely recording, a record of dropped connections, missed opportunities and shipwrecks, one in which the invisible protagonists, attempting to orient themselves with coastlines, find the geography to be as intimidating as the lack of land. [...] there’s more going on here than simple field recordings; disorienting samples and live musical elements are woven in as well. The birds may sound live, but there’s a good chance they’re not; the rain arrives from a pre-recorded source, and the foghorn is an accordion. This additional layer of detachment – the thought of environmental sounds not being environmental – adds to the sense of dislocation, making the screech at 8:05 of “to check their homeward progress” feel like punishment: the friendliest response one receives is the sound of feedback, the crossing of wires. One wonders if a traveler in space might feel the same way, encountering a friendly voice only to discover it to be an echo of a distended, long-lost radio show."

- Richard Allen, review of Radio Cegeste and Lee Noyes' CD 'To Orient Themselves with Coastlines' in 'A Closer Listen', February 2012