propagation through interference
… was reading about manipulating the mind and, at the same time, messing around with radio. CB radio equipment was in my apartment with an antenna on the roof and I used to tune in to listen occasionally. In the city it took on a different life - especially on weekends - with the hard core users boosting CBs for their monologues or guys unwinding and shooting the shit with their garage set-up. Deciding it was better to participate - and this was mostly pre-internet so talking back was unusual - I decided to get a 225 watt booster and join in. I had read some things about muzak and learned it wasn’t just background music - they were considering things like creating stimulating tracks for slow parts of the work day. I decided to make my own muzak-like tracks - adding in hemi-sync binaural beating. At five minutes per track, they took up a heck of a lot of airtime for CB radio. I bought a simple EEG machine to test the tracks. The device was so primitive I couldn’t print out the results and was forced to just take pictures of the computer monitor. The photos are of Marc Fischer generously allowing his skin to be tugged on while gazing into a home made light field. The original version of this project had an release event. I invited electronic musicians Brent Gutzeit and Ernst Karel to use live CB radio as an input source. You can play audio samples from this performance below.
1:16 scale model
... the Intermod Series launched the KC-135 Ground Tracking Network. If you were on the mailing list (put together with the project host, WhiteWalls / Anthony Elms) you received the KC-135 Spotters’ Guide in the USPS mail. This introduction included an invitation to join the network and instructions on how to begin. Encouraged to join the growing online forum, network members add their input to the online database where other members can comment and participate. Within a few weeks of the mailing, the Intermod Series invited the members to a one-time event/gathering. This occurred at midnight on December 2nd. This series of photos shows the making-of the event/gathering, the center piece of which was a 1:16 scale model of a KC-135. Here’s how I made it. This first photo shows the beginning of the paper templates which were used to cut out the cardboard interior structure of the model. I was able to find rough sketches online, mainly from model building hobbyists, and scale those up using a simple projector and trace the results. Any gaps were filled in using a plastic model I bought on Ebay. In some areas that were unclear in the drawings I cut that plastic plane into sections to trace the profile.
... a total of 12 propane tanks were used. I had to figure out how to create the desired flame as it exited the body of the plane. I consulted online descriptions of homemade glass blowing furnaces. I tried some of these but the final custom nozzle was created though trial and error. In the end, the simplest solution was the best.
… invited to be part of a show in 2001 that was curated by Nathaniel Braddock and Jeremy Boyle that was related to music graphic musical scores in some way, I don’t remember the details. You got to pick your composer and I choose the Tomás Marco score Sü which was a pattern of dashed lines drawn with a pencil on paper. I decided to recreate it in fluorescent bulbs and record the 60Hz buzzing with various microphones - a guitar pickup, lots of contact mics, elf receiver, and a standard mic or two. This was mixed together at Splinter Group Audio for the CD that was compiled from the show (which I wish I had a copy of) - information here. Also as part of the show I put the bulbs together one night in a club somewhere and played it live with amplified speakers.
… difficult year to work through this project. Starting before September 2001 and ending three months later, launching rockets in the city wasn't the easiest or smartest thing to be doing. Even the inflated mailer/announcement was suspicious looking. The whole project had a spooked energy. I’m pretty sure it caused the police to shut-down/block-off Damen Ave near the west-side launch … or maybe it was a coincidence that the shutdown happened minutes afterwards. An almost impossible accident occurred where the motor of a launch-pad-jammed rocket got loose and hit a helper in the chest - of all the directions it could of went in a 360 degree dome of options - and burned his wrist horribly. The slide with the streaks of light are of this out-of-control motor whizzing through the air without a rocket to guide it. That was a terrible night. In some ways I was glad this project was over when it was done.
ELF receiver and fluorescent bulbs
… using amplified speakers to re-broadcast the 60Hz buzz from the fluorescent fixtures captured with my ELF reciever. The best part of the idea wasn’t achievable unfortunately - the intentional flickering of many of the lights in the space to add a visual element and complexity to the sound. I thought it would be simple and started to replace good bulbs with bad bulbs but they wouldn’t flicker. The museum tech explained that the ballasts had to be changed to bad ballasts, not just the bulbs. That wasn’t going to happen or happen in time so it became a simpler sound piece only. This show was an event at the MCA called Active Music: a New Music Marathon. ... receiver wire was strung thoughout the Lou Mallozzi's apartment picking up the live power line buzz and fluctuations. I rebroadcast that signal full blast at 25 watts, 24 hrs a day. There was a pause and a signal at the top of every hour to show it wasn’t just industrial interence - there was an intelligence behind it.
structures and pirate radio
... because even the most radical radio was still a form of entertainment even if meant to provoke or irritate. I was surprised at how hard it was to find any reference to radio that wasn’t entertaining. Early russian radio experiments seemed to provide the only examples of this - attempts at stimulating workers muscles, for instance. At the time I was modifying interior spaces - adding and shaping elements with odd materials and interventions - and I was messing around with the sound. I discovered you could actually hire a company that would install equipment to mask sound, like in an echoey office space - sound masking. This fit well with the idea of finding a way to use radio in that elusive non-entertainment way. Instead of hiring a company I made my own masking tracks. I designed a pod to hold the equipment that would be constructed of 4 parts from the same mold. I never had the money or time to cast them in fiberglass so I made a prototype out of wood and skimmed it in hard plaster. The interior was cross braced with aircraft cable and it could be tied to the ground from those points. The transmitter was much more powerful than I let on and reception was miles, not just a few city blocks. Completed: 1999.
Field recordings of FM 89.5 Sound Masking: Matt Hanner
… the model was connected to 12 full propane tanks in a small contained basement space. Two days before the event I discovered that all of the connections - which were custom made by me - had a slow leak. I figured that if I could find a rubber o-ring to fit the connections I could maybe solve this. The properly sized o-ring would seal it tight - but only if I could find that o-ring. Amazingly, the Ace hardware store a block away had the best in-store selection of o-rings I’ve ever seen before or since. The connections were sealed tight but I still had the potentially dangerous build-up of fumes to contend with. I bought a half a dozen quality respirators for visitors who might stay for the full event. It turns out that people like to stare at flames and don't like to wear respirators - almost everyone stayed the whole time and only a few people wore the respirators.
AR step-by-step construction
... 2005 version was the result of a scheduling conflict with the 2002 model. A museum which wanted to include it in a show and agreed to help fund a new one. I took this opportunity to take what I learned from the old one and improve on the design and construction. I remember that I really didn’t have enough time and I definitely should not of spent the money but the results were satisfying. The following set of photos will give you a sort of step-by-step following the fabrication through the late summer of 05.
... the Audio Relay design was on paper I started the basic skeleton structure. All of this had to be planned with parts already at hand. There was very little room to spare in the design. In the previous photo you see the handle and the cavity it sits in. I used epoxy soaked cardboard tubes when deep curved sections were required.
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