As part of a recent yearly theme on “Grids” Radius tackled the electro-magnetic field space of the city by inviting four artists to create new works to be performed near power stations. In his piece electrosmog, Canadian artist Kristen Roos utilized a high frequency receiver to sonify signal activity in the 800 MHz – 2.5 GHz range, which includes mobile phones, wireless phones, wifi, and microwaves. His site-specific performance took place overlooking the Fisk Generating Station in Chicago, and included microwave ovens and micro-watt transmission to a sound system made of radio receivers. Thus the work was site-specific to both the transmission ecology of urban Chicago and the field effects of the electrical grid, mixing material signals with a speculative approach as to what the cumulative effects of living in this built environment characterized by centralized power could be. In Roos’ work, radio space contextualized and revealed the real–though naturalized and often invisible–relationships between people, things, and systems, where a microwave oven gestured at both danger and musicality.
Electrosmog is concerned with themes of electromagnetism and material processes which sonify inaudible events. Using an electrosmog high frequency receiver, Roos captures sounds produced by mobile phones, wireless phones, wifi, microwaves, and other electronic devices (between 800 MHz – 2.5 GHz). Important to Roos’ electrosmog is that wifi operates on the same frequency as a microwave oven (2.4GHz), and when modulated into audible frequencies, wifi sounds like pops and clicks and a microwave creates a deep drone.
The inclusion of the Fisk Generating Station as a site-specific element in electrosmog speaks to the emergence of site-specific sound and radio art. In acknowledging the spaces that Roos creates within, he uses them as an aural palette of sorts. Our everyday lives consist of mixing and creating sound collage and microscopic sound sculptures — largely because sound is constantly entering and vibrating our bodies. With the addition of wifi and other inaudible high frequencies, we are also being confronted by another world of frequencies.
Will the electrosmog created by our North American obsession with wireless devices be looked at in the same way we turn our noses at burning coal and the coal smog that once filled our cities to create power? Roos’ electrosmog explores what the electrosmog equivalent would be to the shutting down of the Fisk Generating Station. Conversely, the work ponders whether we are, in fact, heading down a road that sees an increase in coal power plants and a disregard for all forms of smog. Would this be a place where inaudible radiating pops and clicks of information float in and out of fog as thick as pea soup?
I have been collecting sound from a 1800 voice mail that has been engraved in cedar and mounted to the backs of benches in Stanley Park, as a part of the Ten Fifteen Maple Fieldhouse Collective, and the Dedications Project.
VIVO’s Latest Video Bar immerses it’s audience in sound, light, and vibration
Words by Celesse McCarthy
Photos by Dennis Ha and Elisa Ferrari
I’m sitting outside City Centre Motel on Main. VACANCY is illuminated, and across the street, Hot Art Wet City is electrified by voyeurs. I’m drinking cider.
I see a woman wearing a uniform sauntering down the sidewalk, whirling her sweater – the sun is setting though, so I’m wearing mine.
The city below is slowly becoming speckled, the skyline riddled with cranes. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. I walk and stop to view the industrial buildings to the left.
I enter the small anterior room of VIVO Media Arts, which is host to wooden enclosed benches, lamps (not wooden), chairs (wooden), and a collection of laptops, cables and (allotted into this frame sans oxford comma) pretty people….more at vandocument here
Music for Lamps (Montreal) Adam Basanta, Julian Stein, Max Stein
Music for Internet Josh Hite
Music for Furniture Kristen Roos, Ross Birdwise
Music for Lamps is an installation and performance work for sound and light emitting lamps performed live by Adam Basanta, Julian Stein, Max Stein. The lamps are arranged to both surround and permeate audience members, creating a multi channel light and sound performance. The work investigates the potential of domestic objects, both to recall their quotidian functions and – through aesthetic transformation – transcend them.
Josh Hite’s work is primarily concerned with human movement through local spaces. He is inspired by the potential for the creation of subjective pathways and the myriad results that occur when movers decidedly confront obstacles. Recent work focuses on the technological alteration of action and memory relative to the uploading of backyard behavior onto YouTube. He has collaborated on site-specific projects, dance and sound performances, and work in public space. Josh has a BA in Philosophy, an MFA in Visual Art and teaches at the University of British Columbia and in Continuing Studies at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
Ross Birdwise is an artist and musician originally from Ottawa. His artistic practice includes electronic music, vocal music, curation, non-idiomatic improvisation, performance art, photography and video. He has performed at the Mutek Festival in Montreal, with Anthony Braxton in Vancouver (Sonic Genome – The Roundhouse) and has shown visual art in a variety of contexts including Gallery 101 (Ottawa) and Vancouver New Music (Theatre for the Ears – Scotiabank Dance Centre). He obtained a BFA from Ottawa University in 2005 and an MAA from the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2008. He has trouble separating his hobbies from his creative practices.
Whether working with DIY radio-based projects, massive arrays of low frequencies, or sampled and sequenced rhythmic construction, Roos demonstrates that there is more to sound than just audibility. His work introduces a sense of reorientation and reconstruction of objects from their usual state into objects with multiple possible meanings. Roos draws on history, urban and rural sound ecology, and the capabilities of his means of transmission to suggest new or hidden realities in relation to the subjects he investigates.