13 Feb 2017

quiet noise VI

on Feburary 12 radio cegeste performed at Quiet Noise VI, an annual house/backyard show challenging experimental/noise performers to play without amplification, curated by Clinton Green in his suburban garden in West Footscray, in Melbourne, Australia. 

exploring the theme of non-electric amplification, I brought a Columbia Graphophone Cylinder Phonograph (a very special Model Type AA, c.1901-1902, the "smallest talking machine" sold by Columbia; it plays 2 minute cylinders, and is all original including the horn) all the way from New Zealand and played it in combination with various other eclectic eco-sonic media including crank- and battery- powered audio storage/playback and transmission devices, hand-made paper music box notation of material traces of dunedin streets, extinct NZ birdsong transcriptions in various formats, morse code, bat detector, 78rpm birdsong records on a portable record player, multiple radio transmitters narrowcasting on various frequencies, and radio receivers distributed around the audience. while it's been a crazy heatwave in Australia this past week, today the wind was up and tore the transmitted sounds sound around the space, I hope, in a pleasing way. there were additional trains and birds sounding from the environment, whose aleatory additions made an unstable whole that hung together with some manner of perfect-imperfect improvisational sense. or at least from where I was standing.

24 Jul 2016

transmitter building workshop for the BYO Battery series, at The Anteroom, Port Chalmers

On July 24 I hosted a mini FM transmitter building workshop for ten people at The Anteroom, an non-profit artist run space based in an ex Masonic Lodge in Port Chalmers, run by the media artist Charlotte Parallel. The workshop was part of a series of D.I.Y creative technology and skill-sharing events Charlotte curated called BYO Battery.

The workshop's intention was to make transmission technologies acessible, with participants constructing their own simple hand made ultra low watt transmitter with which to narrowcast their own sounds. Grounding this practical making within wider theoretical reflection and discussion of how DIY analogue technologies might inform our understanding of communications within the post-digital present, drawing on the histories of DIY radio making and free radio experiments in 1970s and 1980s Italian and Japanese media art and activist histories, we also discussed the use of transmission media for artistic and non-centralised cultural purposes. True to the spirit of the series, everyone also brought along their own 9v power source to the table.

14 Jul 2016

a horn of chicken wire, a new kokako, and Douglas Lilburn's media zombies at the National Library

On the 14th of July at 1pm I gave a performance/lecture at the National Library, Wellington, in response to Zombies on the Horizon, an exhibition drawing on archival collections to tell a lateral story of the development of experimental music in Aotearoa, put together by the National Library's music curator Matt Steindl for the Turnbull Gallery. 

This exhibition takes its name from a statement by composer Douglas Lilburn, who begins the show's own narrative, talking about the coming of electronic media within music culture as "the zombie on the horizon". I also took this as my own lateral starting point, speculating how Lilburn's statement might be seen in relation or contrast to the notion of Zombie Media, recently elaborated by Jussi Parikka and Garnet Hertz, particularly in relation to an 'archival turn' within sound art cultures.

1 Apr 2016

marcasite radio experiment #1

a brief post-midnight birthday-morning experiment / work-in-progress report. the first vaguely successful attempt at materialising something i've been wanting to make for quite a while now, which has the working title of 'marcasite radio' and is, essentially, a 1920s 'heirloom crystal set' (!) based around the speculation that the white iron pyrite that was used to make marcasite jewellery in the 1920s and 30s can act as the crystalline mineral in a crystal detector. 

and yes - when set into a 'hacked' crystal radio receiver of the same era, my maternal great grandmother's marcasite brooch becomes a diode that faintly speaks the voices of the aether.
her name was ann wright (i'm named after her) and she was born in the 19th century, and was 101 when she died. (as of around an hour ago, i'm 59 years younger than that milestone). my mother gave me two pieces of her marcasite jewellery as a graduation present. it's a powerful thing to tune in to the material ghosts of my female ancestry today, to cast out into that space through the strange magic of radio, while also thinking back toward the work of this country's female radio pioneers in the first decades of the 20th century. that history, itself like a faint, crackling signal in the midst of static rain. a lot more work needed here, but a promising start, and an excellent way to celebrate the first few hours of being fairly old now, myself...

25 Nov 2015

'tidelines for water street' installation in the exhibition 'in a blessed parenthesis, in a vacuum full of promise'

a score written for, exhibited and performed within the exhibition in a blessed parenthesis, in a vacuum full of promise, Dunedin, New Zealand, November 2015.

title: tidelines for water street
date: 24 Nov – 1 Dec 2015
time: various
notes: a sound score is constructed from a Dunedin street, using the location.

In its initial stages, this score is a textual response to the idea of “land reclamation” and the fact that this street is on a part of the earth that until recently was underwater. It progresses further into the investigation of tidelines from various eras between the 1840s and 1890s, which inched forward as the settlers threw more and more stuff into the harbour, including whole inconvenient parts of the landscape and later, the built environment; both were treated as raw material for what we might identify as, geologically speaking, an anthropocenic armature, a conglomerate “archaeological” landmass that everyone could contribute to: geological cross sections might reveal not just monumental or ‘natural’ things but strata of broken tea cups, glass bottles, and garden wastage. The notion of the shoreline as a liminal space, a fluxing zone of imaginative indeterminacy, was no doubt a little buried in this process, to be replaced by a local footnote to a wider cultural pragmatics of land usage. between 1846-1889 there are various sketches of a tideline. each line looks oddly monolithic when frozen to a map, but taken together, the multiple tidelines seem more accurate in their imaging of a fluxing boundary line. it is as though the land is indecisive, shaking, re-drawing its boundaries, staggering into a solidity. that the map is always provisional. that the attempt to provide a definitive version is fraught with human hubris. tidelines will change again. with development, with erosion, with climate change.

At this point the score reads: 

wait until just after rain. then navigate the street’s relocated tideline, paying particular attention to things not visible. do this as many times as needed, noting the changes.

25 Oct 2015

"uncentred, space is also reversible... there is nothing to grasp": Edison Ledges (diagram for twelve archival silences)

"even as strange geographies corrugate, fracture and smear worldly scale and tempo, the ground isn’t somehow evaporated into virtual information flux, but, quite to contrary, we are brought to the end of the non-place, to a point where place can be and must be re-established anew as an accountable habitat in the renewed image of these very same deformations." 

- Benjamin Bratton, 'On the Nomos of the Cloud: The Stack, Deep Address, Integral Geography'.

In creating the short study Edison ledges (diagram for twelve archival silences), various archival sound recordings, in this case, commercially released Edison wax cylinders c.1890-1920 catalogued within the 500+ cylinders that form part of the collections of a small Hobart-based museum dedicated to sound technologies, the Sound Preservation Association of Tasmania (S.P.A.T), were recorded, and the music subsequently removed, leaving only the precursory audio, and the final run-out grooves. Inverting the kinds of editing processes used, for example, in digital archival sound preservation, in which an editor would normally edit out these audible silences and use noise reduction software to progressively remove the grain media to reveal the music, here, the grain, the noise and the silence are all that remain of the technical, epistemological and economic act of late 19th century audio recording. 

18 Oct 2015

Andrei Tarkovsky: Another Kind of Language, 3CD re-release on and/Oar

Released just months before the 20th anniversary of the filmmaker's death, the quiet emergence of the re-release of the Tarkovsky tribute and/Oar initially put together in 2003 was aptly timed. Like a small expanded cinema exercise in itself, this package included a 20 page booklet and 3 CDs, two including compositions from the original release, and the last with contributions from seven new artists. I contributed a new track, 'for shoring up the past, as though with timber', and wrote an impressionistic essay for the liner notes, called 'there is only here and now, and light'. Full info on the release (where there are still copies left, at the time of writing) is available at and/Oar. Thanks so much to Dale Lloyd for his work and faith.      

5 Feb 2015

Collected Huia Notations (like shells on the shore when the sea of living memory has receded)

“As traditional memory has vanished, we have felt called upon to accumulate fragments, reports, documents, images, and speeches—any tangible sign of what was—as if this expanding dossier might some day be subpoenaed as evidence before who knows what tribunal of history. The trace negates the sacred but retains its aura. We cannot know in advance what should be remembered, hence we refrain from destroying anything and put everything in archives instead.” - Pierre Nora, Between Memory and History

We are not so much mourning our own inevitable loss, or the ego reflected in that loss, as we are mourning the absence of the connection. (…) A more tenable ecological conceptualisation of mourning needs to consider connectivity, rather than unified subjectivity, as a tool for exploring the deep channels of grief over the loss of the more-than-human.” - John C. Ryan, Why Do Extinctions Matter?

“The category of the fragmentary (…) is not to be confused with the category of the contingent particularity; the fragment is that part of the totality of the work that opposes totality.” -Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory 

Collected Huia Notations (like shells on the shore when the sea of living memory has receded) is a work for phonograph, solo piano, and extinct bird. It collates the four known Western musical notations of the song of the Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris), an endemic New Zealand wattlebird of the ancient family Callaeidae, which was driven to extinction in the last decades of the Nineteenth Century, partially through the attentions of overzealous wealthy Victorian Ornithologists and Museum collectors.

10 Jan 2015

notes toward a library of superlative trees. a transmission for Eucalyptus regnans

notes toward a library of superlative trees. a transmission for Eucalyptus regnans was one of two works exhibited as part of a listening air. / They are that that talks of going at Constance ARI, Hobart, Tasmania, which opened on 10th January 2015, alongside works by Matt Warren and Alex Bishop-Thorpe. It was part of the offsite programme for the sound festival Mona Foma.  

3 Dec 2014

a one minute radio silence for Sceloglaux albifacies

recordings of the silences of mounted specimens of the extinct New Zealand bird Sceloglaux albifacies (the Whekau, or Laughing Owl) are collected from public Natural History museums, via the paranormal investigation method of EVP (electronic voice phenomenon), which is associated with the use of radio and sound recording as a means to contact the dead. the silences are layered into a one minute transmission, collated on the centenary of the officially recognized extinction of the species.

a blank time-capsule, “a one minute radio silence for Sceloglaux albifacies” investigates cultural notions of death and memorialisation in relation to the stability of recording mechanisms, the ‘eternal stasis’ of the archive as storage, linking this to early colonial collecting practices: the predatory accumulating of rare birds which rationalised sacrificing the living animal in favour of the ‘immortality’ of the museum specimen. despite a few dozen of its corpses being collected in such a way, along with a scant number of known photographs, some drawings and written accounts, the living Whekau’s cry was not recorded. accordingly, this project aims neither to represent, nor to ‘speak for’ the bird in human terms, in favour of giving space to its absence, listening in to the one hundred year lack of any signal between 1914-2014.

[image: juvenile Sceloglaux albifacies photographed at its nest in a cavity under a limestone boulder by Cuthbert and Oliver Parr. c.1909, Raincliff Station, Opihi River, South Canterbury, New Zealand. This is the only image of this bird ever taken in the wild.]

28 Sep 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)

23 Aug 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

23 Jul 2014

the worlds within a film: revisiting Nigel Bunn's photography for 'Notes for a Coastline'

notes for a coastline was a 2003 film directed by Zoe Roland, for which I wrote an essayistic, poetic monologue, which was used as the basis of the voiceover which sonically "anchored" the non-narrative drift of the film.

the Dunedin Film Society asked to screen the film in their 2014 programme, on the 23rd of July, as a local example of artist-filmmaking and a short before Shirley Horrocks' documentary on the senior New Zealand photographer Marti Friedlander, Marti: The Passionate Eye

the film was finally digitised for the screening, and in dragging frames out of it I was newly struck by all the small worlds that are buried inside it, which emerged with their own beauty and texture.

these images are all sourced from the exquisite 16mm camerawork Nigel Bunn shot for the film, only one of its media. as individual frames rendered into digital stasis, they paradoxically whisper of the fluid materiality of celluloid. apart from the myriad filmic references one could mention, some of the shots remind me of Vija Celmins' drawings, and some look like early photography by Henry Fox Talbot, and some have the mystery of a box of photographs or glass magic lantern slides newly discovered in the dusty corner of an old antique store, their out-of-sequence timeline revealing a new "treasure map" buried in their relation.

it seems appropriate that they are re-shufflable in this new way as a series of found photographs, as the last line I wrote in the script was "and there is no real ending to this process, as the walking continues after the viewing is finished. as listening continues...".

16 Jul 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. 

9 Jul 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...