Simulcast 1.0 : Saskatoon

Apr 1, 2008 - Apr 28, 2008
free103point9 Online Radio

Four sound artists are each invited to create an unchanging radio broadcast. Reacting to a radio culture which accustoms us to the division of time into a grid of discontinuous slices, "Simulcast 1.0b : Saskatoon" is a temporary condition webcast on www.free103point9.org during April, 2008. Four artists are each asked to create an unchanging sound or soundscape. Each of these is webcast continuously over seven consecutive nights. The resulting month-long series reflects on radio's relationship with night and proposes a renewal of radio's relationship with eternity.
"Simulcast 1.0b : Saskatoon" is curated by Montreal-based sound artist Emmanuel Madan, at the initiative of the Saskatoon media arts production centre Paved Arts. The webcasts are hosted by free103point9, a New York-based nonprofit arts organization devoted to Transmission Arts. Webcast nightly on free103point9 Online Radio at www.free103point9.org, April 1 - 28 2008.
Schedule:
Martine H. Crispo (Montréal) "Danby;" April 1 to 7, midnight to sunrise.
GX Jupitter-Larsen (Los Angeles) "Big Time Crash Bang 2008;" April 7 to 14, sunset to sunrise.
Magali Babin (Montréal) "7 nuits sous le Westinghouse;" April 15 to 21, midnight to 6:36 a.m.
Harold Schellinx (Paris/Amsterdam) "Tot morgen (à demain);" April 21 to 28, sunset to sunrise.
All times Central Standard Time (GMT -6). Sunset and sunrise times as observed in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

"Western broadcasting is tyrannized by an instrument we have accepted as inviolable: the clock... Radio has become the clock of Western civilization, taking over the function of social timekeeper from the church bell and the factory whistle," said R. Murray Schafer in “Radical Radio,” In EAR Magazine, “Festival for a New Radio” supplement, March 1987.

The idea of "programming" in radio is indissociable from notions of time: we speak of the programming "grid" which represents the subdivision of time according to a two-dimensional Cartesian co-ordinate system; a "schedule" which presumes predictability, punctuality, and periodicity. The time "slots" thus created are further dissected within the confines of each individual programme: news is expected on the hour, weather every seven to ten minutes, regular breaks for advertising spots of 30- or 60-second duration[s] punctuate the remainder. Music programmes fill their time with a battery of pre-recorded songs of similar length; these are then assembled into playlists whose duration is also fixed: "Stay tuned for another thirty-minute non-stop Rock Ride," said a radio DJ on CHOM-FM, Montreal, 2007.

Put simply, radio broadcasting today is an almost exclusively rhythmic affair. Other types of broadcasts do exist, of course. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson stumbled upon one in 1965, while researching an entirely different phenomenon. They were convinced that their radio telescope was malfunctioning until they realized that they were in fact receiving a signal which had been rocking the universe (commercial-free) since the moment radiation began separating from matter, that is, shortly after the Big Bang. "Scientifically, radio is as old as time," wrote Neil Strauss in the introduction to "Radiotext(e)," published by Semiotext(e) New York 1993.

"Simulcast 1.0b : Saskatoon" proposes to renew radio's link with eternity. It asks four artists to provide a sound, only one sound, which broadcasts continuously and unchangingly for a period of between six and ten hours each night on www.free103point9.org. Each artist's sound is broadcast during seven consecutive nights. As late-night radio listeners well know, strange things can happen on the radio after midnight. There is something about the solitude of night-time listening which brings out radio's best and most original attributes. The densely-packed conformism of daytime programming is loosened. Many smaller broadcasters do not have the resources to staff their station with live DJs during the night hours and resort instead to pre-recorded or automated alternatives. It is unfortunate that the responsibility of broadcasting through the night is often seen as a burden, an unpopular time-slot which is difficult to fill. "Simulcast 1.0b : Saskatoon" recasts the problem as an opportunity, a short test-run for Radio Eternity.

Much has been said about radio's power to transcend space. The standard definition of the word "simulcast" refers to a live broadcast of some public ceremony: a football game, a coronation, a political debate, a state funeral. Events like these bind listeners together, joining disparate spaces into a single location. "Simulcast 1.0b : Saskatoon" applies the idea of simultaneity to time, rather than to space. By bathing listeners in an event which remains unitary for a period of many hours, it suggests a simultaneity between all moments of a broadcast: a collapsing of a long period of time into a single instant.

Schedule

Martine H. Crispo (Montréal) "Danby;" April 1 to 7, midnight to sunrise.
"Danby" is a broadcast composed of a single sound that is the most pervasive in our interior environments: 60 Hz. The frequency 60 Hz is the soundtrack to the electrical currents that power our radios, our appliances, our light. Yet, it is a soundtrack so prevalent in our everyday lives that only at night in the absence of noise do we realize that silence is continually filtered through the buzz and hum of electricity. "Danby" transmits an unchanging loop of the 60 Hz recorded from an everyday household object. By juxtaposing this constant frequency with the 60 Hz that is no doubt also present in listeners' homes, "Danby" creates unpredictable variations and harmonies - a spontaneous simulcast of the singular sound that infiltrates our lives.

GX Jupitter-Larsen (Los Angeles) "Big Time Crash Bang 2008;" April 7 to 14, sunset to sunrise.
"In the 1980's, whenever I wanted to create an all-night broadcast using only a single sound, I would take a long tape-loop and play it through multiple playback heads. This technique always provided a seamless sound sculpture. For "Simulcast 1.0b : Saskatoon," I did something different. Instead of using analog based repetition, I took a short recording of 40 seconds and digitally stretched it into a single ten hour long wave form. The original recording was that of an auto accident, which is a favourite sound source of mine. The resulting effect is very much like ceaseless grinding. Which also happens to be a favourite of mine," wrote Jupitter-Larsen.

Magali Babin (Montréal) "7 nuits sous le Westinghouse;" April 15 to 21, midnight to 6:36 a.m.
"This piece is a recording of seven consecutive nights, each lasting 6 hours, 36 minutes. Two microphones are placed under a ceiling fan on the second floor of a central room in my house. Under the fan hangs a mobile composed of photographs of family members and close friends, illustrating different episodes from my past. In the foreground of the recording we hear the motor of the Westinghouse fan as well as the waving of the photos in the wind. In the background, we can distinguish the ambient sounds of our house at night, as we pass into sleep and back into wakefulness. Over the seven nights, the only measure of time is the evolution of the ambient sounds in the background, changing with the hours of the night and the nights of the week. "7 nuits sous le Westinghouse" is an intimate sound track which offers a view (or a listen) into the passing of time, the memories it leaves us and their effects on our identity," wrote Babin.

Harold Schellinx (Paris/Amsterdam) "Tot morgen (à demain);" April 21 to 28, sunset to sunrise.
In "Tot morgen (à demain)" a chord consisting in two tritones ('diaboli in musica') that overlap each other by a semitone sounds 140 times forwards and 140 times backwards. The unlawful sequence of these soundings forms a palindrome. It spans the interval that separates the beginning of a next day from the end of a previous one, the end of a previous day from the beginning of a next... "until, again, the roar of dawn." (In the first measure of Stockhausen's "Klavierstueck IX," the same chord is played 140 times in an evenly spaced decrescendo that lasts 48 seconds.) "...tezelfder tijd duizend duivels van beneden en van boven duizend goden ..." - a thousand demons from below and from above a thousand gods [ Tip Marugg - De morgen loeit weer aan (The roar of morning), 1988 ].

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