On October 17, 2021 an International Drumming Festival was held at the Wychwood Barns in heart of what we now call midtown Toronto. Mostly, a cool and windy day, later in the afternoon, it rained which ultimately drove Special K and I home. But before we left I captured soundscene audio of some of the performances, presented here for your enjoyment.
More depressing discussion about the end of the world. The beautiful people of Tik Tok. Boostagrams. Premptive Strikes. Abortion. Building love into robots. Deep talk about the consciousness of biological beings. Trying to simulate life on earth. The impossibility of humans to think in terms of deep time. Retirement. Overnight Chia.
Today I have another conversation with Madge Weinstein of Yeast Radio. The conversation will be cross-posted there. And will be slightly different so listen there too.
Things don’t start well for me. I have numerous technical problems despite the fact that I tested my setup before the show was to begin. The problems started when I noticed that the battery was drained on the crappy computer I was going to use. Actually the computer isn’t that crappy. But the power cable is flaky. The laptop rebooted when I reconnected the power, delaying me further. I had to swap laptops and cables, and reset all my inputs, outputs and levels. But that’s amateur podcasting for you. Raw and real. You know like Prince coughing in his Raspberry Beret video or Lucy misting up when Desi kisses her on air. Even so, you might thank god for the fast forward button. There are a few other minor glitches you’ll hear, but we soldier on.
Also. Trigger warning. Our sometimes stream of consciousness conversation is guaranteed to offend everyone in some way. We mispronounce some names and we swear. I also get the bomb that is dropped on England, in the movie Threads wrong. The bomb goes off 20 miles from Sheffield, not in the South China Sea. The South China Sea one goes off in the TV series Years and Years.
Madge asks me to explain Andrew Gallimore’s concept of the Hypergrid which I fail at miserably. I think I need to have Gallimore on the show so he can explain it himself. Also we wonder how the plural of fungus is pronounced. I love the English language. Do you know it has the largest vocabulary of any language in the world. Why? I think because English speakers have absolutely no shame when it comes to just making up words as they go along. It’s a long tradition You know like quark and smog and snog and laser and google and irregardless. (Sorry about that last one. Speakers of a certain age will not accept irregardless as a word and will view you with much disdain if you use it around them). English speakers proudly steal from every other language, (French and German are favourites), and such words are promptly incorporated it into the lexicon. Other words can crop up without warning ,and suddenly, crowdfunding, deplatforming and whataboutism are things. Don’t even get me started on English spelling.
Madge and I cover a lot of ground. Listen to the show right here:
Alexandra Gelis is a Colombian-Venezuelan visual artist based in Toronto, Canada. She holds an MFA degree from York University, Toronto, Canada. Her work incorporates photography, video, electronics and digital processes…Gelis’ work addresses the use of image relation to topics of displacement, landscape, and politics. One of the prevalent concerns in her work is to unveil the relationship between landscape, history, people, geopolitics and the diverse techniques for achieving subjugation of bodies and population… As an educator/facilitator in video and photography she has led workshops with youth in disadvantaged communities in Canada, Colombia, and Panama. Her work has been shown internationally in several venues and galleries in Canada, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Argentina and the United States. She has developed curatorial projects, video screenings, and programs for festivals in Latin America and Canada.
On August 15, this summer, Alexandra unveiled her installation called Raspao/Snow Cones. This installation in her own words is
…a moving sound sculpture vehicle that makes Snow Cones to sell them. It is also equipped with electronic components that capture, reproduce, mix and record sounds and video in real time. Customers and bystanders create sound compositions by mixing sounds in real time from the surrounding environment and the sound made by the internal components of the cart. The Snow Cone vehicle is a food cart, a hybrid vehicle, a mixture of a Raspao cart used in Colombia to sell snow cones and the food carts that Portuguese and Greek Canadians use for selling roasted nuts and other sweet goods in Toronto. Snow Cones is also a sound piece that aims to open a space for social interaction, a place of meeting and conversation.
Of her relationship with the experience of snow cone machines she writes:
When it was very hot in Cartagena, Colombia, as a child I will buy an ice cone and I will eat it lying down on the beautiful decorated and cold tile floor in my house. The installation is a product of a private performance in the back of my house in Toronto, dealing with childhood memories. I paint on the snow using fuchsia ink (reminiscences of Ice Cone or “Raspaos”) tiles with arabesques as in the floor in my house in Cartagena. At the end I laid down naked on the snow trying to recuperate these impossible memories. Hot – Cold, Fuchsia – Childhood – Moments.
Raspao/Snow Cone Machine by Alexandra Gelis
In my third episode of four shows featuring artists at the Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium, 2012 join me now during the opening of this installation and interview with the artist:
In this second of a four part series of soundscapes and interviews I did at the Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium this August, I share two sound exhibits. PluseCubes by Ryo Ikeshiro. From the program: “is an interactive sound where visitors are invited to become part of an implicit feedback loop whose other components include a set of small cubes on a flat surface, computer vision and digital signal processing. The cubes are tracked by a web camera positioned overhead and processed by a programming environment known as Max/MSP/Jitter. The audience interaction is created through the placement and movements of these cubes acting as a control device which in turn results in the production of audio and physical vibrations. Ryo is a London, England based electronics and acoustic musician working in the fields of audiovisual composition, improvisation, interactive installations, soundtrack and therapy. He is currently studying for a PhD in studio composition.” The next exhibit I explore is Ghostwood a/v by Michael Trommer who did the audios, and Brent Bostwick who did the visual part of the exhibit. From the same program: “It is an audio-visual installation which investigates the psycho-geography of Ontario’s northern wilderness. It is primarily focused on the use of infrasound provided by specially constructed tactile transducers and is supported by a video component of the Georgian Bay landscape. The project title is is a reference to those suburban neighbourhoods in which the sole memory of what has been displaced or eradicated as a result of their construction survives in the now prosaic street names (‘Valleyview’, ‘Forest Hill’, etc).”
In our discussion of infrasound, Michael mentions a phenomenon called the brown note and wonders if it is a myth. As it turns out, it is a myth, according to my sources. But you’ll hear more about that during the interview.
For the last eleven years New Adventures in Sound Art has conducted what has been known as a Radio Without Boundaries art symposium. This year the name was advertised as the Trans X Transmission Art Symposium. This symposium was part of theDeep Wireless festival of radio and transmission art that was held throughout May this year. I have for the last several years wanted to attend and this year I was able to. I wasn’t sure what to expect – but I found that it increased my interest and appetite for sound experimentation.
From the program here is the abstract from Darren Copeland’s opening remarks:
“Rooted in the earliest experiments with radio, Transmission Art has continued to flourish with experiments with wireless communications technology over the past 100 years. The 21st Century is not excluded from this experimentation as artists have ventured into exploring a variety of mobile based platforms and more lesser known forms of transmission such as VLF (very low frequency transmitters). The terrain of transmission art is dynamic and fluid, always open to redefinition. With NAISA being a sound art organization, we ask the question: What new sound art experiences are possible in the transmission and mobile media platforms?“
Darren Copeland is the founding Artistic Director of New Adventures in Sound Art and a Canadian sound artist.
For today’s show I recorded one of the last sessions of the weekend, this one led by Victoria Fenner. It was broadcast live during the symposium, but this is my version of it from my Zoom H2 and binaural mics tightly secured in my ears; complete with rustling, coughs, laughter, and one or two minor factual errors – and by that I mean to let you know up front that It wasn’t Hector that screamed twice during his performance, it was James just in case that’s not clear. So here is what ended up being the spur of the moment panel discussion led by Victoria, with the ad-hoc studio shared with Ninja, Galen, Jim, Tom and Hethre. Also mentioned: Twitter, Soundcloud, iTunes, FM, Community Radio, Citizen Journalism – Other Links:
Every year, Toronto participates in an all night festival of art known as Nuit Blanche, so named because it colloquilally means “all-nighter” in French, but literally means “white night”. It’s a sunset to sunrise event on the first Saturday of October. There is so much to see all over the city, and it is by design impossible to see everything. The most popular events seem to be the ones that use lots of light shows and sound. For example, many exhibits feature projections against walls and buildings. One exhibit that was a hit was the tennis point played over and over all night long called The Tie-break. It was a re-enactment of the legendary fourth set tie-break from the 1980 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles Finals between Björn Borg and John McEnroe. That would have been something to watch. But we limited ourselves to one area of only a few of many possible events that night.
First we dropped by the Museum of Gender Archaeology that eventually led us into the GendRPhone booths. I’ll admit, apart from the gender changer, commonly used for electronic connections, and the display of so-called ancient bathroom signs for male and female, most of the meaning of the items in the small collection were lost on me. And Ninja is all about exploring the nuances of gender. I get that it was meant to represent a future bygone world of gender dualilty and it was a great start, but it simply wasn’t enough for me. I love shock factor in art (I just revelled in the outrage caused by the kissing of the pope and the imam), and I wasn’t shocked, merely amused. If that is what the artist was after, then it that sense, it did succeed. The installation invites us however to re-imagine our gender. On the gendRphone, you can select the sex and gender of a potential lover and hear their words of love. In the words of Marshall McLuhan, “When you are on the phone, you have no body”. Just a disembodied voice. I love that concept. It’s full of possibility. Not sure that the installation piqued my imagination though. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.
My favourite installation was the sound and poetry presented by a local group called New Adventures in Sound Art. Go figure. I loved the beat and words that went with it. You’ll hear some of that. The last two installations we went to were light and sound shows. The first was called Night Light Travels and the second was another installation by the NAISA (New Adventures in Sound Art), called Sonic Spaces (The Kinetics of Sound). Both used feedback mechanisms and other triggers to change sound and in some cases light in real time. A Markov chain is a mathematical system that undergoes transitions from one state to another, between a finite or countable number of possible states. The next state depends only on the current state and not on the sequence of events that preceded it. This kind of “memorylessness” is called the Markov property. Markov chains have many applications as statistical models of real-world processes and Shawn Pinchbeck uses them to evolve the sound in Sonic Spaces. He also used Vocoder (Voice encoder) technology and theory to change what we hear in the installation.
Have a listen and see if any of this art is your cup of tea.
During Nuit Blanche this year the highlights for me were three sound events. The first you’ll hear is Sound(e)scape curated by Darren Copeland at New Adventures in Sound Artin Toronto’s Wychwood Barns Artscape venue. The next is a segment from the storytelling event at the Barns. Finally I share an event called In Search of a Wife in Search of a Husband. First is the memoirs of the wife of the Crown Prince of Korea, and her “experiences before and after her father-in-law, King Yongjo, forced her husband, his 25 year old son, to climb into a rice chest. The chest was then sealed and her husband died in the chest eight days later.” Later, the letters between Hester Lynch Thrale and Dr. Samuel Johnson are read. The exchange is from 16 days between June and July 1784. Thrale communicates her in intent at 43 years old to remarry and Johnson reacts strongly to the threat of the end of their twenty year association.