Weekly Reader 32

Photo, Adam Birkan

Since the start of 2015 I’ve found myself increasingly interested in radio, podcasts, and sound art. I think it’s the result of spending days typing at computers and the fact that I can enjoy these art forms while working from home. I was surprised to find I hadn’t previously selected a photo by Adam Birkan, his work is varied and well deserving of your time. I’m not quite sure where the above photo was taken, other than that it’s somewhere in Hanoi. What initially caught my eye was the stacking of mannequin bodies and the gradient of colours. There’s a sense that these bodies become more recognisable as they curve round from right to left, from standing, to animated, to coloured, before looking back and contemplating the bodies on the right. There’s a lot more to say about this photo, so I’ll dedicate some spare time to writing on it.

  • “NTS Radio are set to continue their ongoing site-specific series of events Parallel Visions on 3 March with Bedtime; a new project formed by Mica Levi (of Micachu & The Shapes) and Marc Withasee and Raisa K”. The Institute of Contemporary Arts has announced a collaboration with NTS radio. It’s also NTS’ fifth birthday this year, and they’re putting on a series of parties to celebrate.
  • “with each progressive year Record Store Day has become a parody of its original intent – an opportunity to push needlessly expensive releases from major labels while ignoring independent labels”. Record Store day leaks covered by FACT magazine. Though I may fit the profile, I’m not actually a vinyl collector, and I’ve never queued up on Record Store Day. However it’s a shame to see that major labels are piggybacking on what is essentially a day designed to prevent the closure or buying up of local institutions.
  • “It’s the only venue where, when you’re DJing between sets at gigs, the sound man tells you you’re playing too quietly and turns it up so your drink vibrates like the cup does when the t-rex is coming in Jurassic Park”. Laura Snapes writing in Pitchfork takes a look at Corsica Studio’s early days. Along with Plastic People this was our staple club in first year, though I have to admit I haven’t actually been in ages.
  • “This mixtape has been put together by Tocantins, a record collector and occasional DJ based in London, whose interests focus on the popular musics of West Africa and Latin America. Here he attempts to foreground the role of music during that period of African self-determination.” Red Africa Mixtape on The Calvert Journal. Certain blogs and record labels have helped introduce previously unheard musicians to the Internet, for which people may be grateful, but in doing so they have separated the works from the context of production - African anti-colonial struggles, and Latin American resistance to Neoliberal dictators.
  • “A place to hear inventive documentaries, dramas and works of sound art that have been made in languages you don’t necessarily speak”. Radio Atlas aims to give podcasts a wider audience by providing english subtitles for non-english documentaries.
  • “the daily footfall for artist-led spaces and smaller galleries iss limited by a number of intersecting factors… However, through working within a structure of events or broadcasts rather than temporary static exhibitions, the work discussed here created different possibilities for engagement”. Lauren Velvick’s article Radio Activity in Art Monthly (£). Unfortunately Art Monthly is paid access only, but this issue is particularly interesting for the wealth of writing on art outside of London.
  • “The Great Court at the British Museum, by Foster Associates, is a horror. Sitting on the stone benches in the ‘outdoor’ café, your physical discomfort is matched only by the auditory impression, an incoherent clatter and buzz from every side that makes conversation difficult”. How Buildings Sound, on the LRB Blog. Working alone from home has made me acutely aware of the sounds of a house, the boiler creaking as it expands or leaks, whistles of wind, and mysterious beeping noises that I can’t find the source of.
  • “The study found that the participants were unaware that their voices were being manipulated, while their emotional state changed in accordance with the manipulated emotion portrayed. This indicates that people do not always control their own voice to meet a specific goal and that people listen to their own voice to learn how they are feeling”. Via Eurekalert.org. You can download the software from the project’s website.
  • “In this experiment, the coordinates of a given object are plotted along the point index to form three individual graphs. The graphs are then normalized and combined into two channels, transforming the topological information into audible tracks”. Geophone by Georgios Cherouvim. I found this via my brother, a sound engineer, who’s now looking into the potential uses of this.
  • “The waves appeared on his screen as a compressed squiggle, but the most exquisite ears in the universe, attuned to vibrations of less than a trillionth of an inch, would have heard what astronomers call a chirp–a faint whooping from low to high”. Gravitational Waves Exist in The New Yorker. The ancient greeks associated with the rhythmic transits of planets with music, so it seems appropriate that the human interaction with gravitational wave data is via music, a middle C.