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Funkenspiel

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Funkenspiel is a noise/music assemblage recording of shortwave radio, spacecraft transmissions, and atmospheric phenomena. In performance, this is remixed dub-style with live shortwave broadcasts. Both ethereal and unsettling, Funkenspiel includes repetitive rhythms, bursts of noise, and undulating radio signals. A prominent feature in the source material is the use of “number stations”– repetitious coded vocal messages of unidentified origin, transmitted via shortwave bands (see the Conet Project at http://www.irdial.com/conet.htm.) These broadcasts are supposed covert transmissions by various state intelligence agencies to field operatives.

These enigmatic transmissions are an overlapping territoriality of social influence between the social, machinistic, and political realms. Natural and man-made radio waves envelope us constantly, generating variable definitions and meaning of what is signal and what is noise. Funkenspiel thematically considers the politics of control in information transmission, the interplay and significance of noise in a sonic environment, and the metaphorical implications of the body/voice being awash in a constant flow of encoded information in radio signals.

The title of the work is a variation on “funkspiel” (radio-play), a technique used in WWII by both German and Russian forces in which foreign agents and transmitters were manipulated into treasonous activities; “funkenspiel” can be translated literally as transmitter-play or spark-play. Funkenspiel debuted at Control Acoustics, the Zeppelin 2005 Sound Projects Festival, Barcelona, Spain.

 

 


 

Listening In At 1 R.P.M.

Kinetic sound sculpture, tower 5', arms 6' span, case 22" x 20", 2007. Piezoelectric sensors, custom electronics, steel, motor, case.

1rpm

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Location One 1:00
Location Two 1:00
Location Three 1:00
Location Four 1:00
Location Five 1:00

 

Piezoelectric sensors on the rotating arms "read" the textured gallery wall and translate its imperfections into sound. The result is a repetitive composition of one-minute duration. This work translates the latent, randomized "information" existing in the wall surface as if it were Braille– highlighting the distinctions between noise and information by translating the tactile into the auditory. The work was repositioned regularly over the course of the exhibition, each time producing another pattern of sound. Recorded April 13 - May 4, 2007 at Miller Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA.

 


 

Subviola


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East Liberty 8:49
Gallitzin 10:00
Ryerson Station 6:03
Carnegie Steam Tunnel 9:54
No Defects 0:53

 

Subviola was an audio collaboration between Hilmar Bjarnason and David W. Halsell that explored the intersections and boundaries of culture, noise, and place by manipulating field recordings from urban and rural spaces of the American Midwest. Railroad locomotives, country meadows, industrial spaces, and Appalachian folk musicians are transformed into washes of protracted and convolving sounds punctuated by disjointed rhythms and vocalizations. This work saught to reflect the artists' experiences while living in the economically depressed post-industrial "rust belt" and the widespread disillusion in the myths of American industrial and social history. The ironic title for the recordings, No Defects, comes from the most common radio messages in the automated system of status reports of railroad lines.