Wave Farm Artist-in-Residence: Owen Chapman

Oct 06, 2023 - Oct 15, 2023
Owen Chapman Portrait

Owen Chapman Portrait.

Tree Tapping for VLF is an audio installation and performance system featuring Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio signals, collected via the use of trees as antennas. A selection of trees located at Wave Farm will be “tapped” as sources of VLF signals for sonification and audio mixing instead of sap for syrup production. Signals will be transduced into audio as well as control voltage inputs used to shape sounds generated by radiophonic synthesizers including the Theremin. This will allow for the alteration of audio effects or textures as well as the performance of improvised duets or concertos with the VLF flows being received by the more-than-human participants. Chapman anticipates that the strongest signals will be sources of "hum" from the local power and telecommunications grid but will also strive to tune into “spherics,” or VLF activity caused by lightning in distant parts of the world. Such encounters underscore the profound yet inaudible forms of noise that humans generate. Trees manifest this reality in their sap, in their veins. Selected audio outputs from the installation will be cut to polycarbonate disc in real-time using a portable lathe-cutting recorder–resulting in unique forms of sonic documentation that mimic the visual facets of rings in a tree stump.

Owen Chapman is a composer, DJ and professor in the department of Communication Studies at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada). He writes about and produces sonic media, especially in musical contexts. His audio work involves live performance and electronic composition and has been featured internationally in video soundtracks, media workshops, site-specific installations as well as solo and group performances. Chapman’s scholarly research-creation projects have been funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FRQ-SC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Canada Council of the Arts. He is a turntablist and beat-maker, producing music that integrates samples from used records, field recordings, radio signals and other sources.