What better way to start a new year, however unpromising it might feel, than by bringing together good friends for an online live performance for Le Placard and ∏node. Enter The World Fuse (Felix, Xentos, Sarah & Knut):
The last edition of the CWCH collective season took place in Saarbrücken at the Saarländisches Künstlerhaus. Fellow CWCHees Katharina Bihler and Stefan Scheib had suggested this as an option to share a physical space with each other, and with a small audience, after months of regular performances that happened exclusively online.
For a detailed description and a full archive of CWCH shows please visit the dedicated project page.
To make full use of the spaces of the Künstlerhaus our set-up mirrored those of the CWCH collective so far: Sarah created the mix from all contributors, Katharina and Stefan were in the adjacent hall but still bound to the seconds-long delay of web-streaming, and the roaming audience had to visit a third room to hear the final broadcast.
Photo journalist Kerstin Krämer offered us the two images you can see below and wrote a report for the Saarbrücker Zeitung, positing that Orson Welles would have loved the evening. New Music expert Hubert Steins was in attendance too and conducted interviews that would find their way into his excellent portrait of the CWCH collective for Deutschlandfunk Kultur.
De-Distancing with Tetsuo Kogawa
We first combined our sonic palettes with fellow radio art practitioner Tetsuo Kogawa in 2005. Since then we have joined forces on a dozen occasions, often by combining sounds streamed in from our respective homes on different continents. This translocal practice comes to the fore now in times of Corona virus isolation. Responding to a call from Paris based experimental radio network π-node Tetsuo, Sarah and Knut collapsed time and space between the metropolis of Tokyo and the village of Ürzig for the listeners of a flock of radio stations including π-node (Paris, Mulhouse), Resonance Extra (Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, London, Norwich), Soundart Radio (Totnes) and WGXC (New York’s Upper Hudson Valley) who made available the archive recording below.
The invitation to Leipzig’s Seanaps festival gave us the second opportunity in this year to play a trio with Chris Cutler. This encounter felt like we’d played as a group for decades, something that seemed to translate to the audience as well if the appreciation and after-show comments are anything to go by.
The festival made use of a great number of cultural spaces within the district of Plagwitz, one of which inhabited the studio of Sphere Radio, a nascent local radio collective that tried out its first steps during Seanaps with the help of a few seasoned practitioners and airtime from Radio Corax and Cashmere Radio.
Our contribution to the radio programme consisted of a handful of bespoke Johnny Head in Air mash-ups, a discussion on radio futures and a new radio experiment by Knut called The Compression Chamber.
This situation/installation/composition consisted of two microphones in the room which were patched through a chain of compressors so that any sound nearby would gain the same volume, no matter how quiet or loud. Visitors to The Compression Chamber were handed headphones that conveyed this unique form of listening and their behaviour changed immediately. For one hour the room turned into an alternate reality in which people crawled around the space and played with the minute sounds of floor boards, carpets, plastic wrapping, camera shutters, the door of a wood burner and anything else that could be found, underpinned by the chatter of guests in the adjacent room. A short excerpt can be found below, the full hour and many other Sphere Radio transmissions are accessible here.
This must have been one of the most unusual locations we have ever played a Tonic Train concert in: the Hallraum Worringer Platz in Düsseldorf. The venue is a small glasshouse that is situated on a heavily frequented traffic island close to the city’s main station. The setting was intimate, with the curious audience crouched around us listening intently. However, the guiding theme for the performance emanated from the outside, from the constant car traffic and the electromagnetic disturbances from the busy adjacent tram stop that Sarah could pick up with a scanner. And then there was a secondary audience, just outside of the glasshouse, that didn’t care but also didn’t mind us being there while they were drinking and injecting. It was a memorable event, the last warm evening of the year, and strangely life-affirming.
Photos by Christian Ahlborn
The Młyn dzięków / Klangmühle / Sound Mill concert was the culmination of a two-year project called Ortsgespräche by the Goethe Institut in Warsaw for which Knut was the artistic director. Five German sound artists (including newly-naturalised Sarah) had been working throughout 2018 and 2019 in five medium sized Polish cities with Polish counterparts to produce workshops, events, concerts, talks and interventions in public space. These proceedings are documented and contextualised on a dedicated website and Facebook page.
For the final event of this project all the artists were brought together to inhabit a giant former industrial flour mill turned museum in the town of Dzierżoniów (where Sarah´s project in collaboration with Stowarzyszenie Edukacji Krytycznej had already taken place). The short video documentation above gives a glimpse of the varied mini-concerts which the audience encountered in various locations around the building. Due to the unusual cultural offer, brilliant organisation by the Goethe Institut team, and the previous project in the mill, a buzz developed around the event. We had to add a second run of the performance due to a stipulated maximum of 80 audience members per show, and both were sold out. Health and safety rules meant that everybody had to wear a hard hat, and the surprise final course of each show consisted of a buffet of sausages, pierogi, compote and beer. Needless to say everyone went home delighted, unfazed by the strange and at times hilarious music.
With the help of Udo Noll’s Radio Aporee the event was broadcast live on Resonance Extra in London, Soundart Radio in Dartington and WGXC in New York, reaching audiences around the globe. Below you can hear a recording of the first show in its entirety, and the edited individual performances from the second show.
Our contribution, besides being responsible for the overall dramaturgy of the whole show, was an atmospheric 10-minute live Hörspiel featuring childhood memories of Dzierżoniów resident – and leading light of the local pensioners club who had taken part in Sarah´s earlier project – Barbara Kuźmińska. This was profoundly moving for the audience as the stories ranged from listening in live with her father to Russian space mission communications on a domestic radio set, through to his role in aiding Jews fleeing the Nazis. She also read out parts of a poem sent to him in the 1920s, a precious document which she brought along.
Frequencies & Fragrances was the theme of a night of broadcasting at Datscharadio, which took place in an allotment colony in the south east of Berlin (rather than at its regular venue of Gabi Schaffner’s own datscha). We brought along a present from the Mosel in the form of an on-air wine tasting featuring six of the most remarkable Rieslings we could get our hands on, plus recorded interviews focusing on the issue of smell with the respective winemakers. While the entire 2-hour midnight tasting is probably better left to the imagination, the unconventional interviews could be of wider interest as well as pricking up the ears of wine nerds. Half are in German, half in English, and they can be found here:
The night’s events were many and varied, with a whole host of acts approaching the topic of fragrance from various angles. Towards the early morning hours Sarah and Kate Donovan joined forces for an impromptu reading of a story by Gabi Schaffner.
The photos for this post were taken from the Datscharadio website, which features a much more detailed report of the the proceedings.
The above work was our answer to a rare request to create sound pieces for a private birthday party that was taking place in the construction site of the Alte Weinbauschule in Bernkastel.
Sarah created the sound installation Birthday Bash. The sounds, recorded two days previously at the site, are of various building activities or were made by playing in the empty resonant spaces with found materials such as metal bars, bottles and sheets of polystyrene. Audio transformations were made to short excerpts of the recordings, which were then played randomly over two radio transmitters to 30 radios. As it was very noisy on site, the recreation you can hear above was made afterwards to give a clean sound.
Knut placed field recordings of fermenting wine barrels at the bottom of the building’s staircase, referencing the former use of the premise as a school for apprentice wine makers.
Sarah travelled to London to join the other members of Unhappy Fly for a gig at Mau Mau Bar in Portabello Road. The following morning they set up for a live session on Resonance FM’s Hello Goodbye show, which was captured on video.
The self-titled LP Unhappy Fly including a rare see-through lathe cut seven inch single can be bought from Rough Trade, and a growing list of songs can be streamed through Spotify. Other tracks can be found on Youtube and Soundcloud.
An invitation to join in with the celebrations of 50 years of Radio Študent in Ljubljana brought some of the Radia network members to the Slovenian capital. We could only glimpse a part of the amazing programme that honoured five decades of self-determined broadcasting. Much appreciated was the detailed tour of the station and the experimental music festival that ran at the Cirkulacija2 venue, which also hosted a discussion round on Radia.
In the long run-up to the release of their first album Unhappy Fly had their first live gigs in Berlin with a two-day residency at Bar Bobu. The line-up consisted of Xentos Fray Bentos (vocals, guitar, entertainment), Richard Dudanski (drums, percussion), Sarah Washington (vocals, harmonies, circuits), John Glyn (saxophones), Christian Schmidt (bass) and Owen Ross (electric guitar). It was a blast! Due to a yes-smoking policy all tunes had to be transposed down five semitones for the second night.
Two celebrations coincided at the cafe of Halle’s opera house: the long awaited book “Radio Revolten: 30 Days of Radio Art” had arrived from the printers just in in time for its launch, and in addition the artist André Damião from São Paulo was starting his radio art residency with Radio Corax.
Seeing as this event marked the very end of the Revolten project which we had been totally wrapped up in for the past five years, for our performative broadcast we decided that we would tidy up live on stage in a symbolic attempt to put our house back in order. The elements included Knut cleaning the cafe floor with an amplified mop, live streams (displayed on computer screen) of DinahBird washing dirty dishes in Paris and Anna Friz sorting through old boxes in Vancouver, and recordings of other cleaning-up processes which were all mixed together by Sarah for the audience.
The evening event included a performance by the above mentioned André Damião as well as a tightly choreographed radio play by Ralf Wendt and Tina Klatte, with remote live-streamed performances from Steve Bates, Marold Langer-Philippsen, Sally Ann McIntyre, Sol Rezza and Claire Serres.
The images below were taken by Radio Revolten photographer Marcus-Andreas Mohr, visit the link for more photos from the event.
Our first public concert as a trio with Chris Cutler happened as part of the Opening 19 festival in Trier and we enjoyed it so much that we decided to publish the entire set on Soundcloud (see above, including the option for a high res 24bit 96kHz audio download, file size 1.5GB). Before the gig we were interviewed for Luxembourg’s national public radio where we had to pretend that the concert had already happened due to the later broadcast date. You can listen to the subsequent podcast of this radio show here. Our photographer friend Susanne Schug took very nice images of the concert and the festival, some of which you can see below.
In conjunction with Luxembourg’s community station Radio Ara we ran a Radio Art workshop at the Centre National de l’Audiovisuel in Dudelange. During two day-long sessions the twelve participants recorded and constructed the first contribution of Radio Ara to the Radia network:
We were invited to the 20th anniversary of the London Improvisers Orchestra which consisted of workshops, rehearsals and concerts at Cafe Oto. It was a great joy to return to the group after a long gap, contributing our electronic sounds from the back row of 30+ fantastic musicians, set inbetween Orphy Robinson and Louis Moholo Moholo, what more can you ask for?
The celebration was perfectly organised by Caroline Kraabel. Knut additionally offered a workshop on the freedom and limits of improvising with electronics one afternoon and during the first concert evening also conducted a new piece called Initialisation which was based around cue cards of the 26 letters of the alphabet. This is the score:
1. Think of a loved one you would like to dedicate your playing to.
2. Make a mental note of the initials of his/her name. If he/she has middle name(s) consider them too.
3. Play only when one of these initials is shown. More than one letter might be shown at a time.
FMeral was the title of Sarah’s improvised broadcast performance which she gave at the Radiophonic Spaces exhibition opening programme in the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.
The remit was to work with the radio art pieces that were included in the exhibition, but by way of contradiction these were restricted for use by copyright issues. Sarah opted to use her own collection of alternative material from artist friends represented in the exhibition, and with a multitude of overlapping tracks created a playful surround mix through a versatile sound system that consisted of three small FM transmitters and a host of transistor radios strewn across the HKW’s foyer.
This set-up proved that the quality of analogue FM transmission with all its imperfections, combined with carefully placed synchronised playback devices (aka radios) spaced throughout the performance area, works perfectly to envelop an audience with sound that offers the intimacy of home listening even in large and acoustically challenging spaces. In this case there was the additional sensation of spatialisation due to variable routing of the source sounds between the three transmitters, allowing tracks to jump around the audience from one bank of radios to another.
Unfortunately the recording of this event was stolen during a subsequent train journey, so this special performance will indeed remain ephemeral. We can however share our radio works that were exhibited in Radiophonic Spaces:
During our residency with Agosto Foundation in Prague the chance came up to take a field trip to the already legendary Sanatorium Dźwięku festival in Sokołowsko in Poland and play a concert as part of it. Eight of us decided to go and experience the very special atmosphere of this rural happening which is documented in a report on the Agosto website.
For our Tonic Train concert we teamed up with Lloyd Dunn and his field recordings as well as a homemade optical synthesizer to play in a trio for the first time. We enjoyed it very much.
An invitation to Pardubice during our residency in Prague resulted in a trip to this lovely city on the river Elbe with its booming cutural scene including a giant automatic mill which will soon be converted into a museum complex. We played a Tonic Train concert at the City Gallery augmented by a video installation that was responsive to our sounds by Michal Kindernay who also took the photo below.
We played a Tonic Train concert at the Echolot festival for new music at the picturesque Schloss Kempfenhausen on lake Starnberg south of Munich. The invitation came from the festival director and old friend Gunter Pretzel whose clever ploy to programme us after vocalist Golnar Shahyar lead to an improvised trio performance with her at the end of the evening, which evoked imagery of the palace ghost joining in.
A Tonic Train concert for the opening of an exhibition by Julien Maire and Robert Vlasák at GAMU gallery was the first public appearance during our summer residency with the Agosto Foundation. Further concerts during trips to Pardubice and Sokolowkso followed.
The main cimmitment during the two-month residency was Sarah’s Collective Dreaming project which warrants its own, still developing page on our website here.
For the summer semester Knut taught a project module called Radia & Slow Radio – developing and producing experimental radio at the Bauhaus-University in Weimar. Master and Bachelor students who had chosen this class at the chair of Experimental Radio were treated to six all-day seminars, an excursion to sights in Halberstadt and Halle and an after-school pirate radio themed cinema club. The project finished with two radio productions that were broadcast around the world. First was a Radia show called Strata that was constructed from frequency dependent audio layers which the students worked on without knowing each others ideas, but nevertheless came out perfectly fine (“how could this possibly work out like this?” one incredulous student asked).
The second show was a six-hour-long live broadcast based around the idea of slow radio, with all students supplying live feeds of mundane activities throughout the shortest night of the year (see photos below). After the broadcast, which went out on Radio Lotte (Weimar), Radio Orange (Vienna), Soundart Radio (Dartington), Radio Corax (Halle/Saale) and Resonance Extra (London & Brighton), the result was deemed suitable to receive the cut-up treatment by Dieb13’s Schnitzel software and reemerged under the name Cold Cuts as a second emmission for the Radia network.
All in all a great experience to see a diverse mix of talented young media artists pull together as a group to produce two memorable radio events, and along the way hopefully picking up a few insights from the Mobile Radio toolkit.
– Clingradio, our weekly 6-hour-show on Resonance FM in London (2002-2003)
– Mobile Radio BSP, nearly 100 days of radio art at the 30th Biennial of São Paulo (2012)
– Dubbelradio, a 24-hour radio art festival made for two FM frequencies in Stockholm (2013)
Sixteen artists, activists, scientists and researchers from the Climate Psychology Alliance were brought together by Cape Farewell to be led in a research method called the Social Dreaming Matrix. After contemplating powerful climate-based artworks they undertook a shared exploration of dreams, aiming to illuminate the cultural unconscious of climate change.
One Thought Fills Immensity is the resulting audio work by Sarah and exposes some of the resulting subliminal themes relevant to us in the era of climate change. It was a joint commission by Cape Farewell and Kunstradio, produced for broadcast on ORF Kunstradio and the Radia network, transmitted on 30 radio stations around the world.
Eight different versions of the work were produced for specific radio stations, each featuring a remix of one section (and reordering of the segments) in a sequence of broadcasts across the world – until the final version where the gradual remix is finally complete (and the segments revert back to the original order).
A last minute visit to Kassel’s documenta 14 exhibtion was coupled with a performance at Anton Kats’ Narrowcast House, using its small scale transmitter and selection of radio receivers as a sound system:
— documenta 14 (@documenta__14) September 15, 2017
— Mobile Radio (@Mobile_Radio) September 18, 2017
Sarah’s visit to Soundart Radio ended in a live broadcast that included local recordings of bats, slowed down pop music and a beginners’ lesson of how to play the ukulele with Lucinda Guy.
Lucky Punch was a transnational strolling concert where the audience walked from event to event which were located in Wasserbillig and Oberbillig, including the border-crossing ferry across the river Mosel that runs between Germany and Luxembourg. Knut’s duo with pianist and accordionist Theo van der Poel took place on the German side in the private gallery Contemperaneum.
Resonance FM’s 15th Birthday Party offered the opportunity to try out a new performance in which Knut sits still on stage with hearing aids in his closed hands, feeding back at frequencies determined by the cavity size of the hands. The evening with a Resonance typical wide range of performances also featured The Honey Hahs, Tom Paley (RIP), Adesh Sundaresen, Locus, Errollyn Wallen and a host of poets.
Music therapist Theo van der Poel invited us to his hospital in Wittlich where he has been running a series of monthly free concerts for patients and visitors for the last ten years. Together with him on piano and accordion we evoked playing Bach on the motorway and included questions of the German immigration test.
Sarah was invited to give a seminar on radio at the école de recherche graphique (erg) for their seminar atelier called ‘after empire‘. Under the title ‘Double Hertz Radio’ she brought two FM transmitters with her and led a one day workshop that started with the question ‘What is radio?’ and ended with a series of hilarious performances by the students within the erg building which utilised the two low power radio transmitters and a dozen portable receivers.
The art school has a tradition of working with the medium of radio. This was represented in several other radio related workshops and the set-up of a temporary student station called Radio Ergote that collaborated with Radio Panik in Brussels to access FM airtime.
Around the same time of the international radio art festival Radio Revolten in Halle, Berlin’s premier experimental music venue Ausland ran a short series called ‘Bending the Waves‘ that addressed the issue of radio as instrument. We performed as Tonic Train and chatted live on air to Sissi FM in what must be the most idiosyncratic radio studio in Berlin, located up a vertical ladder above the main entrance.
Radio Revolten was the largest festival dedicated to radio art worldwide. As artistic director and co-curators we were involved in all stages and aspects of the festival and temporarily relocated to Halle to help with the organisation.
The scope of the month-long festival included daily performances, more than a dozen installations, two exhibitions, a 24/7 radio station, a conference and several international meetings and much more by nearly a hundred artists from around the world. In April 2018 a documentation in book form will be published by Spector Books. The festival’s website now acts as an archive of the proceedings and contains specific audio-visual archive pages for our own activities as part of the programme. Click here to view this for Sarah or Knut.
Below are audio excerpts of Knut’s silence detection radio installation “Changing of the Guard” and Sarah’s three frequency broadcast “In the Air We Share”.
The invitation for a short residency by the Agosto Foundation culminated in a feedback workshop and a Tonic Train performance at their vs. Interpretation festival. We used this generous invitation to experience almost all of the multifarious events that the 5-day-festival programme offered. The videos below documents only a fraction of the concerts, talks, performances, installations, theatre plays and locations that were unlocked for the audience in Prague, plus a rare interview with Sarah. What a great festival!
On 17th of January many radio stations in Europe celebrate Art’s Birthday. In 2016 Kunstradio invited an illustrious group of performers to their beautiful old broadcast hall to celebrate the occasion. Mobile Radio took part in Vienna for the second time after 2007. The videos below show excerpts of performances by Anna Friz, Ralf Wendt and us, who continued with an improvised quartet just before midnight that was shared via EBU satellite with a dozen other participating radio stations. Together with ORF producer Elisabeth Zimmermann this also meant that all five curators of the forthcoming International Radio Art Festival Radio Revolten could get together to plan the giant event ahead.
The Canadian artist Robert Adrian passed away on 7th September 2015, aged 80. ORF Kunstradio, with which he had a long lasting and influential relationship, organised a memorial broadcast with many prerecorded and live contributions by friends and colleagues of Robert Adrian under the auspices of alien.productions. We provided a live stream that could be used as a back-drop for other artists’ contributions.
There are few better things than witnessing the birth of a new radio station. In this case Mobile Radio played midwife to the new “Radio im Fluss” which can be translated as “radio in flux” but is also a word play on the location of its host organisation, the Centre for Artists’ Publications, situated at the Weserburg Museum on an island in the river Weser in Bremen. Conceived as an outlet for the extensive collection of radio art at the research centre, “Radio im Fluss” also manifests as a weekly slot on Bremen’s community radio channel Radio Weser.TV.
We used an invitation to the opening of the city wide exhibition “Im Inneren der Stadt” to give our radio head Leslie an outing in Bremen, turning the evening party into a temporary pirate radio station.
Our stint in the US came to an end with a Tonic Train concert at the excellent Spotty Dog Books & Ale in Hudson, organised and broadcast live by WGXC. Following our Wave Farm stay we happily served as jury members for their 2016’s crop of residency applications.
A long held wish came true when we could visit the Wave Farm in upstate New York. Galen and Tom had been longstanding cooperation partners as free103point9 in the Radia network but their rural transmission art venture Wave Farm kept being shrouded in mystery even though friends reported of wonderful radio activities. Writing this text almost a year after our ten day residency in Acra I still can’t believe the vision and pure determination that is manifest in the Wave Farm building and its beautiful surroundings, let alone the on air cosmos that is WGXC 90.7 FM which has is headquarters here.
Apart from great views, wild dears, turkeys and humming birds the Wave Farm also offers a number of installations by former residents and toys to play with, such as a radio truck with a built in AM transmitter (see below) that could be used for fm/am feedback experiments. Some results of this session can be found here.
After a trip around the WGXC infrastructure with their 3.3kW FM transmitter and antenna site we also got a tour of their studio complex in Hudson, where the odd freight train crossing gives nearby listeners instant proof that their community radio is live and direct.