Sep 28, 2014

a partial list of animal companions, 1978-1985

a partial list of animal companions i had as a child, age approx 4-12, in Oyster Cove, Tasmania, and East Gippsland, Victoria. classification is of individual, recognizable animals or groups of animals "collected" for close-observation of behaviour or life-cycle in terrariums/aquariums, and/or lived with as deliberate "familiars" in my immediate environment, rather than just observed in passing in the garden / in the wild. I have only included animals that weren’t ‘acquired’ via commercial transaction, but approached personally, by collection (mostly temporary) and/or re-visitation over days/months/seasons in the immediate environment they (and I) lived in. Many of the individuals of these species were admired for their beauty and/or emotionally connected with, some were regarded as being as close as (if not closer than) human friends, and some received full burials upon death.

Garden Mantis (Orthodera ministralis)
False Garden Mantid (Pseudomantis albofimbriata)
Common Grass Blue (Zizina labradus)
Common Garden Katydid (Caedicia simplex)
Gum Leaf Katydid (Torbia viridissima)
Green Grocer Cicada (Cyclochila australasiae)
Emperor Gum Moth (Opodiphthera eucalypti)
Longicorn Beetle (Phoracantha obscura)
Black Field Cricket (Teleogryllus commodus)
Wanderer Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
Mottled Cup Moth (Doratifera vulnerans)
Saunders' Case Moth (Metura elongatus)
Garden Skink (Lampropholis guichenoti)
Eastern Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii)
Mosquito Fish (Gambusia affinis)
Eastern Long-necked Turtle (Chelodina longicollis)

Aug 23, 2014

"water is meaningless without ships"

"Water is meaningless without ships and that bespeaks harbours to haven them, and men and cargoes. What I have written does not pretend to poetry. It only says what it seemed could be said. … "

- Denis Glover, 'Wellington Harbour', 1974

Jul 16, 2014

"at home" a collaboration by radio cegeste & moth

“We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.”
― Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
under the moth moniker, Jon Dale's occasional sonic missives have been collectively described by one commentator as an "incredibly haunting, rich dronescape." certainly, Jon is pretty much an honorary New Zealander when it comes to evoking the kinds of beautiful isolationism one might normally associate with an everyday familiarity with South Island landscapes, and one of the most assiduous and eloquent writers on that particular experimental idiom to be found anywhere.

staying for a week in Jon's apartment in Brunswick, Melbourne c.2011, resulted in this. we called it "at home" because that's where it was recorded; the small spaces of domestic life are very present in the piece. the fate of this apartment, now no longer Jon's home, and sadly since gentrified toward 21st century neo-liberal blandness, uncannily echoes that of the home I lived in at the time - the first place I'd called home in over five years, very much my childhood dream-house in Bachelardian vein, as well as the solid structural frame around history and memory which made the destabilisingly destructive anxieties of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake bearable. This was the 1903 mansion Threave in Dunedin, its bay window blurrily visible in the photo of the cover art here - a weight of air and light and listening also now lost to the expedient whims of "development."

So "at home" might be readable as something of a meditation on these spaces, and transience, small and impermanent comforts, stray signals, locality, finding space for listening, wandering thoughts only possible in silence, the remembered atmospheres of introverted, solitary rooms. in this regard, something about the piece reminds me of the final track on one under-appreciated masterpiece of the Dunedin home-recording aesthetic, Nigel Bunn's 1999 album Index, a seeming-afterthought to the song structures elsewhere on the album, called "this day at home." The track is a field recording of gently falling rain out the window of an old Dunedin warehouse, Nigel's home at the time; a capturing of one afternoon, a moment in a life - now also lost: the building has been demolished, its site turned into a carpark. But in the meditative, slow space within the sound of the recording, the building's memory, all the lives it once contained, seem still extant, endlessly circling in the aether.  

for moth/cegeste, there is talk of a record. in the meantime, you can download "at home" for free from the bandcamp link above. 

Jul 9, 2014

McIntyre/Stern in performance at Make It Up Club's 16th Birthday Celebrations, Melbourne, 14.01.2014

I was rather chuffed to find that Weirdo with a Dictaphone had recently bootlegged a recording of the duo performance I did with Joel Stern at Make It Up Club in mid-January, alongside this appropriately noisy photo and the somewhat startling comment: "An amazing, mystifying performance. Possibly one of the best MIUC shows I’ve ever seen."

This gig was a unique one for many reasons; significantly, Joel's playful interventions marked the first time i'd ever experimented with another live input signal going direct through my transmitter, at the same time as my own. The resulting homage to the misuse of the archive, theremins, morse code, a shared passion for the collecting of weirdo Library Music, Canary Training and Bird Identification records, and similar ephemera, can now be download for free from the link above, for your listening pleasure. It's great to be able to hear it....

Thanks again to Joel and Lloyd for making it possible, and to all the other erudite (and sometimes archival) ears...

Jul 5, 2014

a memorial silence for Sceloglaux albifacies, on the centenary of its extinction.

On the 5th July 2014, I headed into Canterbury Museum to record the mounted specimen of the Laughing Owl/Whekau (Sceloglaux albifacies) to be found, grouped humbly under the designation "forest birds", with various other New Zealand endemic species both extinct and still hanging on, in the Museum's extensive, old fashioned 'bird hall'. A sonic still life which was quietly significant, this 10 minute recording occurred on the 100th anniversary of the day (05.07.1914) the last officially acknowledged member of this species was found dead by the side of the road at Blue Cliffs station, not far from here in South Canterbury, by an 18 year old girl named Airini Woodhouse.

It seemed appropriate to commemorate this small, bleak anniversary, not mentioned in the New Zealand public media (unlike the 100th anniversary of the First World War, which has diverted much arts funding towards various memorial projects this year), with a private mourning ritual, a memorial silence which mirrors the silence of the bird itself, from Airini's sad discovery in 1914 onward, despite the rich prior textuality of description which attends this bird's voice, the eerie "dismal shrieks" and startling, unsettling, mad night forest laughter documented so frequently in the late 1800s, when the Whekau was still found in South Island forest and plain. This took the form of recorded listening as a form of meditation, an inhabitation of a listening space, rather than merely a form of archiving, mixed in with a paranormal ritual investigation, via the practice of Electronic Voice Phenomenon - a nod to radio's long association with attempts to contact the dead.

Jul 3, 2014

inclement and incline: irirangi and "three inclements (the ocean does not mean to be listened to)"

1. spirit voice - an eerie, high pitched off key note, or harmonic, sometimes heard near the ceiling of the meeting house above people singing. It was sometimes regarded as a bad omen and a portent of death.

2. (noun) radio wave.
Mehemea ka waiata tātou ki roto i te whare, ā ka rangona te waha e waiata ana i waho, he waha wairua, he irirangi tēnā (W 1971:80). / If we sing inside the house and the voice is heard outside that is a spirit voice.

The wonderful experimental music imprint Consumer Waste records has been kind enough to release (29.06.14) a set of three short pieces (as CW13) whose various component sounds I recorded while NZ Dept. of Conservation / Creative New Zealand artist in residence on Kapiti Island in May 2012, and finished editing on headphones in the unlikely sound-studio of Fendalton Community Library, located just down the street from my parents' house in Christchurch, very soon after returning from the residency that June. It's a wonderfully anonymous, hands-off public space, where i'm unlikely to be interrupted by anyone I know. Almost two years to the day, I am again sitting in the same place in Fendalton Community Library typing this, listening to the recordings and looking at various historic photographs which have, for me, become attached to this set of sounds. A return, of sorts.

Upon re-listening, the release - now called "three inclements (the ocean does not mean to be listened to)" after quite a few other working titles (the language, unlike the pieces, wasn't instantaneously obvious) - seems jagged, its vignettes reflecting its topographical variety of sonic spaces and collecting methods, a rocky and uneven terrain alive with the rawness of the island's own life. For a sonic document made on an island bird sanctuary, there are very few birds to be heard, apart from those incidentally in the background of some of the location recordings. This CD is not a literal representation of birds (other projects from the residency focusing on birds can be found elsewhere on this site), but a listening-in to the wider context of the island, its histories, its politics, and its absences. As part of the residency's wider focus on radio as fieldwork, this project gathers three "field tunings" into the frequency spectrum, which were all recorded on one day - the 9th May, 2012, around the area of Waiorua Bay. The receiver - a retired Maritime multiband radio - was cast as a listening ear within fields and shorelines, and its tunings layered with sounds also recorded in the same locales with various kinds of microphones. 

Mar 31, 2014

some reflections on the dead space of storage media, and its relation to a bird which evaded solidity in classification for 150 years

Moving into an object-based output for radio cegeste's dissipative ephemeralities was initially only driven by finding productive frisson in collaboration with improvisational musicians who release most things they do on their own record labels (here's looking at you, Lee Noyes). I couldn't really say no, and i'm glad I didn't. Since then, and despite ongoing trepidations around solidifying fleeting aetheric mobiles into repeat-listening structures in storage media, I'm telling myself i'm using such formats strategically.

I'm rather fond of the almost unplayable format of the mini CD, which is obsolete in a more recent - and invisible - way than most of the sonic objects i've tended to be interested in, the early 20th century forms whose temporal distances speak 'materiality' to a digital age in more obviously 'antique' manner. This dainty wafer of digital inscription is however an entirely appropriate format for radio cegeste's first solo release to have been caught on; the New Zealand Storm Petrel EP, released on Kate Carr's label Flaming Pines late last year, is a fleeting, crackly thing, just less than 20 minutes long. I was specifically interested in Kate's Birds of a Feather series for this label, based on birds in music, for its potential to extend my radio work around the immediacy of radio-and-bird communicability (see Kokako Variations, and other recent transmission works) into the 'dead space' of storage media. (I've been using storage media in combination with transmission for a little while, but often though their appearance as chunks of stored time in live performance.) 

The New Zealand Storm Petrel was a perfect focus for this investigation, being notable for its flight from taxonomy, a re-appearance which is only Lazarus-like for the classificatory mechanisms of human language (presumably, the bird knew where it was, all along). A bird like a book returned to the library of babel after more than a human lifetime, to assuage the spectres of colonial guilt. To replace its ghost shelved in some dusty corner, with all the other stuffed specimens.

Mar 15, 2014

refining light

Extending radio cegeste's recent live cinema collaboration with Campbell Walker at Auckland's RM Gallery,  anxious repetitive smiling (nothing's going to happen), toward a formal Dunedin iteration couldn't have found a better context than Refining Light, an event nestled within the 2014 Dunedin Fringe Festival. 

This gathering of (un)like minds was co-curated by Campbell and improvisational guitarist and local experimental audio scene organiser Peter Porteous (Lines of Flight, Alt Music), and ostensibly took the secondary medium in experimental music-and-film festival Lines of Flight, (begun by Peter Stapleton and Kim Pieters in the year 2000, long a biannual part of the Dunedin Fringe and an established part of the NZ audio cultural landscape  - my & Gilbert May's radio documentary on the 2009 festival for the Radia network can be heard here), and made it primary. It also built upon an event, a night of live audio-visual convergences, which Campbell and I co-curated in 2011 with the Melbourne experimental music space KIPL, which combined moving image with improvised scores by experimental musicians.

Feb 13, 2014

anxious repetitive smiling (nothing’s going to happen)

On the 13th February, at the culmination of his early 2014 artist residency at RM Gallery in Auckland, I embarked upon an audio/visual performance collaboration with filmmaker and moving image artist Campbell Walker, called anxious repetitive smiling (nothing's going to happen), in which in-camera audio from his month long gathering of visual fragments in Auckland spaces was expanded within the screening as a transmission piece, a live improvisational score. Text from William Gaddis’ novel The Recognitions, spoken by Walker, was additionally harnessed within an autofictional depiction which literally reflected back in windows as a noir cityscape. The screening space in the gallery added additional light bleed and environmental screen space via its nightlit windows and analogous sonic structural openness.  

images by Matthew Ward

Feb 4, 2014

various australian wanderings, early 2014

performing at Undue Noise, curated by Jacques Soddell at the Old Fire Station in Bendigo, 1st February, 2014. photo by Viv Corringham.


radio cegeste in Australia, January-February 2014:

@ The Now NOW Festival, Sydney
- two works in the Now NOW group show (with Kusum Normoyle, Kynan Tan, Sarah Hughes, Patrick Farmer, Emily Morandini, Jon Hunter) at SNO Gallery, 8/1/2014 - 12/1/2014 
- solo site-specific outdoor radio narrowcast in Sydney Park, 11//1/2014

@ Make it Up Club 16th birthday celebrations, Melbourne
- duo with Joel Stern, 14/1/2014

@ Soundout Festival, Canberra 
- group improvisation with Ross Manning / Viv Corringham / Evan Dorrian, 23/1/2014.
- outdoor site specific performance curated by Jim Denley at Lake Walter Burley Griffin with Jim Denley / Kim Myhr/ Rosalind Hall / Ross Manning / Evan Dorrian, 24/1/2014
- solo outdoor narrowcast in venue courtyard (with intro / segue from venue from Clayton Thomas & Cor Fuhler), 25/1/2014
- group improvisation with Maya Revillion / Viv Corringham / Reuben Lewis / Rhys Butler, 25/1/2014 
@ Sound Klub X, Hobart
- solo performance/transmission, 31/1/2014

@ Undue Noise, Bendigo
- solo performance/transmission, 1/2/2014

Jan 1, 2014

Bioacoustics issue of 'Antennae: the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture'

issue 27 of Antennae: the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture is dedicated to the topic of Bioacoustics: "Shifting away from the historical epistemological prominence that sight and the visual have played in the forming of our understanding of the world, this issue proposes a human-animal aural turn."

Cecilia Novero has written a fairly lengthy critical essay about my work with birdsong and radio called Birds on Air: Sally Ann McIntyre's Radio Art. It incorporates a few interviews we did just after the Kapiti Island residency in 2012, and includes an in-depth critical discussion of the projects I did on the residency. The issue places this work in very appropriate, fascinating, and distinguished company. I am very grateful to Cecilia for her research and intelligent explorations!

From the editorial: "Starting from the notion of recording natural sounds as central to the practices of institutionalised preservation for the purpose of education and entertainment explored by Craig Eley, the issue focuses on the quintessential animal voice: that of birds. Our starting point is therefore grounded in the affirmation of classical mimetic values. From here on, the issue attempts to depart from such trope through the reconfigurations of a number of contemporary artists and scholars. The multifaceted human-bird relationals revisited through the medium of sound are thus explored through the artistic practice of Catherine Clover; connections between listening and thinking, perceiving and imagining, sound and movement, language and the city are considered in this piece with specific reference to the everyday and the ordinary. Cecilia Novero’s discussion of New Zealand- based artist Sally Ann McIntyre's site-specific art transmission raises questions about colonialism, nationalism, and the environment. Novero argues that operating in the realm of sounds both with an ear to birds, and with critical attention to the technological and institutional history of the medium of radio, McIntyre broadcasts Mark Dion’s call to resist nostalgia in our relationships with animals. An exploration of the potentialities proposed by the intertwining of sound and visuality is drawn by a series of graphic works by Sari Carel in which a soundtrack incorporating the original recordings of extinct and nearly extinct birds creates a layered sonic environment enveloping the viewer. As sound turns into drawing and unfurls notions of transformation, translation and extinction, the piece emerges as a document chronicling that which is slowly disappearing. A clear activist approach to preventing the extinction of birds is brought into focus by Ceri Levy, well known film-maker, writer, and curator. In an extensive interview with Matthew Brower, Levy discusses the challenges involved in preventing the extinction of protected bird species and demonstrates how visual and sonic arts can aid the process."

Cecilia's article can be read (and downloaded) here: Birds on Air: Sally Ann McIntyre's Radio Art

issue 27 of Antennae can be downloaded and read in full here:

Dec 20, 2013

transmission for a lazarus taxon: radio cegeste's 'the new zealand storm petrel' out on flaming pines' 'birds of a feather' series

radio cegeste's homage to the New Zealand Storm Petrel was released as FLP025 alongside (and inversely twinned with) a composition for the Rainbow Lorikeet by Sydney based musician Seaworthy on December 20 2013 by small independent Australian label Flaming Pines as part of their limited run Birds of a Feather series of EPs, themed around the sounds of birds, and their role in music. As label head Kate Carr puts it "The role of birds as muse, as musical guide and inspiration has been well documented in classical music, from Mozart's pet starling to Beethoven's birdsong filled Pastoral Symphony and Sibelius's swan hymn to Messaien's birdsong compositions (...) always birds inspire us with their mastery of flight, their epic migrations, their tragic vulnerability and their against the odds tales of survival."

The New Zealand Storm Petrel (Oceanites maorianus), seemed an apt conceptual figure for such a project, with its recent dramatic re-discovery in 2003, after being declared extinct in the 1850s. The small black and white seabird is now included under that most miraculously evocative of categories in natural history, alongside the small number of other species which have been declared extinct only to appear again, often much later. In paleontological classification, such a creature is known as a 'Lazarus Taxon', and the various examples, including the Lord Howe Stick Insect, the Coelacanth, and New Zealand's other famed avian example, the Takahe, seem to slide a place holder, however marginally, into a collective imagination facing the global landslide to oblivion within the sixth wave of human-influenced extinction. In the case of the New Zealand Storm Petrel, the gap between disappearance and rediscovery was over 150 years. In New Zealand settler culture terms, that is roughly analogous to the official age of our nation, although humans have of course been on these islands, interacting in complex cultural ways with bird species, since the 1100s.

Nov 15, 2013

critical writing by Dugal McKinnon on 'Huia Transcriptions' and 'Collected Silences for Lord Rothschild' in Leonardo Music Journal

issue 23 of Leonardo Music Journal, with the theme of 'Sound Art' features Dugal McKinnon's article Dead Silence: ecological silencing and environmentally-engaged sound-art. Dugal builds a critical model for a discussion of silence in engaged environmental audio works which utilises discussion of two of my recent pieces focusing on birdsong, vernacular memory, the archive and extinction, as well as some work by the British audio artist Katie Paterson.

Sep 12, 2013

'Nature Reserves', group exhibition at GV Art, London

Two works themed around erasure, the audible trace, extinction, colonial-era collecting, and silence, Huia Transcriptions and Collected Silences for Lord Rothschild were aptly included in a group exhibition, titled Nature Reserves, which ran at London art/science gallery space GV Art from the 26th july - 13th september.