Boblo Island Redux

Andrew O'Connor
Frequent Mutilations is a performed installation for four reel-to-reel tape machines and a series of large analog tape loops eighteen to twenty-five feet in length. The piece is based on a long-running radio show of the same name. Each tape machine simultaneously plays a loop of a different duration, played at different speeds so the sounds continually intersect at different points. Each loop contains a single sound like a drumbeat, a voice, or a drone; the sounds on many of these loops have been taken from archival episodes of the radio show, the rest composed specifically for the installation. Every few minutes one of the loops is taken down and a new one is spliced live into the mix. This creates a slowly evolving, slightly random composition that, much like the show that inspired it, is constantly in flux. As a weekly radio program, Frequent Mutilations aired original hour-long works of radio art for twenty-five years on CKMS-FM, a small community radio station in Waterloo, Canada. Frequent Mutilations varied both from week to week and year to year as programmers came and went and technology changed. The only persistent guidelines were that programs had to be an hour long and include some aspect of collage. In the show’s two-plus decades, well over 1,000 hours of original radio art were created for broadcast. The show went off the air in 2008 because of a loss of funding at CKMS and a subsequent shift in programming. Frequent Mutilations, the installation, is meant to celebrate one of North America’s longest-running radio art programs, giving new life to the program’s archives in a gallery setting.