The Radio Art Hour: Joan Schuman, Helen Thorington
90.7-FM in NY's Upper Hudson Valley and wgxc.org/listen everywhere
wavefarm.org/listen and 1620-AM at Wave Farm
Produced by Wave Farm Radio Artist Fellows and Artistic Director Tom Roe.
Welcome to "The Radio Art Hour," a show where art is not just on the radio, but is the radio. "The Radio Art Hour" draws from the Wave Farm Broadcast Radio Art Archive, an online resource that aims to identify, coalesce, and celebrate historical and contemporary international radio artworks made by artists around the world, created specifically for terrestrial AM/FM broadcast, whether it be via commercial, public, community, or independent transmission. Come on a journey with us as radio artists explore broadcast radio space through poetic resuscitations and playful celebrations/subversions of the complex relationship between senders and receivers in this hour of radio about radio as an art form. "The Radio Art Hour" features introductions from Philip Grant and Tom Roe, and from Wave Farm Radio Art Fellows Karen Werner and Jess Speer. The Conet Project's recordings of numbers radio stations serve as interstitial sounds. Go to wavefarm.org for more information about "The Radio Art Hour" and Wave Farm's Radio Art Archive.
This week: Helen Thorington's "North County" (1995) sounds like a radio play version of "Fargo" made by David Lynch and the author of a text-based game. Playing on themes of memory, time, hypertextuality, and principles of storytelling, the piece drops us into the mystery surrounding a skeleton found near a lake deep in the woods of upstate New York. We shift between the perspectives of the dead woman, a forensics expert, and a woman who travels in a text-based virtual world that echoes that of the dead woman. Dreamlike interludes and repeated phrases (“Simon says, tell the story from the beginning!”) and images (a tamarack tree reflected in the waters of the lake) give the sense that we are skipping not from one story to another but between layers of a story told several times over in several different ways. Like Lynch’s films, the piece offers a lot of beautiful and sometimes eerie atmosphere and builds a world the listener can explore through the piece, but the story itself is not linear or resolved in a traditional sense. - Introduced by Wave Farm Radio Artist Fellow 2020/2021, Jess Speer. Then, American radio artist Joan Schuman produced "Ligature" in 2009. Listening to a number of Joan Schuman’s pieces I’m struck by the sensuality and dreamy surrealism in her work; she combines documentary poetics with radio drama and radio poem. Ligature is loosely based on the lives of Daisy and Violet Hilton, conjoined twins born in the UK in 1911. They were part of the European circus and sideshow circuit in the 1920s and 30s. Setting up the piece, Joan Schuman writes, “They’re retired now. They whisper themselves to sleep while conjuring what death will feel like when it comes to them both...Their single knotted torso extends beyond immediate relationship out to the world.” Ligature is part of a pair of pieces called Catalogue of Mourning. - Introduced by Wave Farm Radio Artist Fellow 2019/2020, Karen Werner.