From the Archives: Radio Art

Fooling the Foley

Radio Art has for a long time been a constant field or work for me. Radio art means that transmission through radio waves in the realm of public radio were part of the concept of all these pieces. Most of it (if not everything) is related to a radio program titled Kunstradio-Radiokunst which is on air for more than 25 years now on the Austrian public radio ORF. Kunstradio has been (and still is) a place for experiments on the public radio. Besides the radio broadcast they were one of first to broadcast on the web (in the mid-1990s) as well as organizing live events, often in combination with radio transmission and webcasting. I did create several recorded and live radio pieces for them, as well as participating in numerous webcasts and live shows during that last 20+ years.

About this selection of recordings:

Fooling the Foley by João Castro Pinto and myself is a radio art piece presenting a parody about the Foley concept which goes back to the late 1920s when Jack Foley pioneered in the art of introducing sounds in the motion picture: steps, switches, clothing sounds, squeaky doors, cars, horses, railroad train sounds, etc. The piece consists of a real time acousmatic sound performance of pre-recorded Foley sounds at the studios of ORF, as well as samples of distinct genres and epochs of the cinema and radio history (drama, comedy, horror, sci-fi, western). Digital signal processing was applied by the artists to transform some of the pre-recorded foley sounds beyond recognition and re-contextualize the role of the foley sounds in the light of radio and cinema. The piece was performed live on December 6, 2012 in the radio studio and broadcast in 5.1 Dolby Surround.

This is a recording of a live radio performance by Didi Bruckmayr (voice) & myself (voice processing & electronics) during the Art’s Birthday Party at the studios of the Austrian public radio ORF and broadcast at Kunstradio-Radiokunst in January 2012.

A world full of stimulus and noise is also full of toys that create (to the suffering of annoyed parents) all sorts of sounds and noises: speaking, singing, barking, bleating, hooting, cheeping, beeping, plonking, rattling, blaring, groaning, etc. With Portraying the Spectra of Toys João Castro Pinto and myself aimed to reveal and portray what seems lost in a cloud of insignificant noise: the hidden and interesting sound spectrum of toy instruments. The “toy-sonata” was built of samples of several pre-recorded instruments as well as live manipulation and processing of some of those instruments. The piece was performed on April 18, 2010 in the radio studio and broadcast live in 5.1 Dolby Surround.

We live in a world of Strangers is one of 37 parts of the H5N1 series of radio pieces which were broacast during the year 2006. Tom Sherman & me used the idea of the evolving, mutating H5N1 virus as a launching pad for a series of statements about the world we live in. Every episode marked an update on the journey of the H5N1 virus as it mutates into other kinds of creatures that violate our privacy and threaten our lives.

Earshot was a live radio and internet performance by Bernhard Loibner, Tom Sherman and Bernhard Gal in the year 2000. The performance was a reflection on a media scenario that established live audio streams and public webcams as modes of presentation and thus turned everyone with a computer and internet access into a sender/receiver and at the same time a well observed user. Back in the rather early days of webcasting the piece demonstrated how a signal extends through several layers of media, including immediate feedback and full interactivity, undergoing substantive reverberation in an environment of global scale. It pointed out that even the act of listening is vulnerable to surveillance. The live ‘actors’ of Earshot were located at different geographical and media locations. Forbes, on the street in Syracuse, New York, and Sherman in his Syracuse home watching Forbes on an outdoor webcam, drove a visual and acoustic narrative through telecommunications lines into a radio studio in Vienna where gal and Loibner mixed the piece live, in real time for live broadcast on the Austrian public radio.

From the Archives: Nerve Theory

h5n1-live1

Nerve Theory is the collaborative identity of Vienna-based composer and sound artist Bernhard Loibner and Tom Sherman, a pioneering video artist, writer and professor for at Syracuse Univeristy (NY, USA). Loibner and Sherman began performing and recording together in 1993. They were introduced by Heidi Grundmann for collaborations broadcast and webcast by Kunstradio, a radio art program of the ORF’s national radio network. In 1998 they formed Nerve Theory, and have since collaborated on numerous live performances, network appearances, audio and video recordings. For their live performances they developed a special mix of spoken word/narrativ, video projection and live electronic music they call “Vidsonics”. Their work has been released on several CDs and DVDs and was presented on numerous festivals for media and video art. Amongst other appearances they performed together at Recycling the Future 1998, Ars Electronica Linz 1999, Elektra Montreal 2001 and Konzerthaus Wien 2005.

About this selection of recordings:

H5N1 live @ Palace Theatre is an excerpt of a live audio-visual performance in Hamilton, NY, USA in 2007. The material of this live performance is related to a series of 37 short radio pieces with the same title they did for Kunstradio-Radiokunst and which was broadcast on the austrian public radio throughout the year 2006.

We live in a world of Strangers is one of the short radio pieces of the H5N1 series of radio pieces. Loibner & Sherman used the idea of the evolving, mutating H5N1 virus as a launching pad for a series of statements about the world we live in. Every episode marked an update on the journey of the H5N1 virus as it mutates into other kinds of creatures that violate our privacy and threaten our lives. A selection of H5N1 pieces was publish on CD-R by voicepondance in 2007, excerpts of the series were presented as audio installation at the Human+ – the future of our species exhibition in Dublin, Ireland in 2011 and at Weserburg, Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen in 2012.

This is a live recording of an audio-visual performance at the Elektra Festival in Montreal, Canada in 2001. The Disconnection Machine pt.3 featured three channels of video on three three large video screen, showing a counterpointing flow of images from public webcams and private video footage. The text reflects on the fact that the privat self has become public while the public domain has increasingly become private (a fact that is all too obvious these days but wasn’t back then). The music pushes hard during that part of the performance leaving Sherman’s voice struggling against the rhythmic structures and bursting noises and bleeps.

The piece originates in a live radio/web performance titled “earshot” that Sherman and Loibner realized together with Austrian sound artist Bernhard Gal and Syracuse based artist Peter Forbes for Kunstradio-Radiokunst in 2000. The performance was a reflection on a media scenario that established live audio streams and public webcams as modes of presentation and thus turned everyone with a computer and internet access into a sender/receiver and at the same time a well observed user. For the original performance we used public webcams, audio streams and telephone lines as sources for a live radio mix in the radio studio in Vienna. Half/Lives was also featured in a video piece by Tom Sherman with the same title which is composed entirely of images from public web cams and which has been shown on dozens of international video art festivals throughout the years.

Fooling the Foley

Fooling the Foley

Fooling the Foley is a radio parody on the art of sound for cinema by Joao Castro Pinto and Bernhard Loibner for Kunstradio-Radiokunst at the austrian public radio ORF.

The live radio performance took place on December 16, 2012 at 11.05pm CET on the public austrian radio ORF – OE1. (Kunstradio archive page here).

This is a short video documenting the live radio performance “Fooling the Foley” by Joao Castro Pinto and me. We did the piece for the radio show “Kunstradio-Radiokunst” and it was broadcast live at the Austrian public radio ORF on December 16, 2012. I think the video quite nicely conveys the idea of the performance: an electro-acoustic radio parody on the art of sound for cinema and the art of foley. Thanks to the Kunstradio crew for the nice video!

Cinema was born with the invention of the moving picture, its narrative / interpretation was at its dawn determined, upon other premises, by two main factors: 1st: gestural enhanced dynamics within the representation (dramatic emphasis of the gestures / facial expressions, in order to clarify the distinct intensities of the plot and describe each character’s profile) 2nd: the insertion of long captions, permutated with the images, in order to report the remaining significant information of the movie to the audience (thus allowing a contextual ground for the interpretation of the different scenes and overall narrative). Music was also present in the first motion picture exhibitions, mostly in the form of piano music. A pianist would play during the screening of the movie, with the aim to synchronize the unfolding of the narrative’s events with a musical “alike” structure.

The event that would dramatically change cinema’s history, dethroning the monopoly of the visuocentric paradigm, was the insertion of sound in the motion picture. Sound would take and expand most of the expressive roles of the mentioned characteristics from the first silent movies, rendering its aesthetical fruition more similar with everyday experience of reality. The expression of context could now be explicit due to the possibility of recording the soundscape (environmental sounds & the sounds of human interaction with objects), as the display of emotions, within the narrative, became clearer through the reproduction of actor’s dialogs.
Jack Foley was a pioneer (late 1920’s) in the art of introducing sounds in the motion picture like: steps, clothing sounds, squeaky doors / windows sounds, railroad train sounds, etc…. These sounds were fabricated in the studio, synchronized with the image, in order to enhance the experience of the movie. From that time to nowadays, cinema has learned to value sight as much as audition, thus cinema has became a rich complex audiovisual experience, a compound of image, music, sound effects and ambiences (currently enhanced with immersive surround sound).

FOOLING THE FOLEY – a radio parody on the art of sound for cinema, is a radio art piece that will present a parody on the Foley concept as it consists in a real time acousmatic sound performance of pre-recorded Foley sounds at the studios of ORF (digital signal processing will be used to transform some sounds beyond recognition) and of samples of distinct genres and epochs of the cinema history (drama, comedy, terror, sci-fi, western spaghetti, etc…). The main goal of the performance is to create a radio art piece where a feasible cinematic ambience is created, in terms of aural output, such as it will result in a rich and fascinating non linear sound-cinema-world narrative, where the distinction between prop Foley sounds and real time processed sounds will be blurred, distort and expanded through a collaborative acousmatic live sound composition.

Images will flow as Sounds and Sounds will turn into Images.

Beyond Radio – Über das Radio hinaus

image of the H5N1 exhibition sticker

Bernhard Loibner & Tom Sherman aka Nerve Theory are participating in the Exhibition Über das Radio hinaus (Beyond Radio) – 25 Jahre Kunstradio-Radiokunst at the Research Centre for Artists’ Publications, Weserburg Museum for Modern Art, Bremen, Germany. The exhibition is running from November 10, 2012 until February 10, 2013.

The piece H5N1 which will be presented there is actually a series of short radio pieces we did for the radio program Kunstradio – Radiokunst in 2006. The series focused on the bird flu virus, H5N1, and the hysteria surrounding the inevitable global influenza pandemic. We used the idea of the evolving, mutating H5N1 virus as a launching pad for a series of statements about the world we live in. Imagine a world where artists write and deliver the news. Nerve Theory are not scientists, but they are experts in observing and describing media viruses and a whole spectrum of living, evolving ideas.

A selection of the 37 episodes of H5N1 will be part of an exhibition reviewing 25 years of the radio program “Kunstradio – Radiokunst” which is dedicated to radio art. Kunstradio is being broadcast on the austrian public radio ORF for 25 years and continues to be a unique forum for radio related art.

Kunstradio – Radiokunst (Art Radio – Radio Art) is more than the weekly radio programme on Österreich 1, the Austrian radio’s culture station, first broadcast on 3rd December 1987. From the beginning, collaborations with international artists have been central to the work of Kunstradio. In cooperation with radio institutions, art associations, festivals or museums, Kunstradio regularly organizes original projects developed by artists as well as facilitating exhibitions or encounters between artists and theorists in the form of conferences and symposia. »Beyond Radio: 25 years of Kunstradio – Radiokunst« gives an insight into the significance, the complexity and the internationality of this programme, whose institutional limits artists have never ceased to question.

Loibner & Bruckmayr recorded live @ Art’s Birthday 2012

Bruckmayr and Loibner live at ORF studio for Art's Birthday

Here is an excerpt of the recording of a gloriously improvised piece which Didi Bruckmayr (voice) and myself (voice processing & electronics) performed live at Kunstradio’s Art’s Birthday party at the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation in Vienna last January. Check it out!

About Art’s Birthday

WIENCOUVER – “an imaginary city hanging invisibly between its two poles Vienna and Vancouver” was conceived by Vancouver based artist performance, radio and telecommunication artist Hank Bull in 1979 on the occasion of his participation in “AUDIO SCENE ’79” in Vienna. To Bull, a friend and admirer of Robert Filliou , WIENCOUVER represented the idea of art as a relationship between people and life, the esthetic of social action and international communications between artists. Today WIENCOUVER is still alive, since 1999 also as the location of annual ART’s BIRTHDAY celebrations between artists in Vienna, Vancouver and beyond.

ART’S BIRTHDAY is an annual event first proposed on January 17th 1963 by French Fluxus artist Robert Filliou. He suggested that 1,000,000 years ago “A man took a dry sponge and dropped it into a bucket full of water. Who that man was is not important. He is dead but art is alive.” Filliou’s ideas have inspired many artists until today.

“After Filliou’s death in 1987, some artists began to celebrate Art’s Birthday with mail art, fax and slow scan TV events in the spirit of his concept of “The Eternal Network” or “La Fête permanente”. The birthday parties took place in different cities across the world and artists were asked to bring birthday presents for Art – works that could be shared over the network.

Art’s Birthday Party has never been a formal event, but was always organized on an ad hoc basis through the network. Every participating location (and they are different every year) organizes its own party – from a few friends in a private studio to a performance evening in a museum or gallery. Filliou’s invention of Art’s Birthday is wonderfully absurd and humorous in the typical Fluxus tradition of serious fun. So the global birthday party for art has always tried to be fun while paying homage to Robert Filliou’s dream of The Eternal Network.“ (Robert Adrian, 2005)

Since 1999 KUNSTRADIO in Vienna and the media section of WESTERN FRONT in Vancouver have become initiators and cooperating hubs of ART’S BIRTHDAY celebrations within the imaginary city of WIENCOUVER. ART’S BIRTHDAY 1999 was the launch of WIENCOUVER 2000, still ongoing exchange between artists in Vancouver and Vienna.