Bio​-​electric Radio

by Absolute Value of Noise

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This is a collection of pieces from a recent outdoor work that I showed in the Botanical Garden in Halle (Saale). The show was part of Radio Revolten - a festival of radio art - in October 2016.

Bio-electric Radio is an outdoor sound installation. The piece imagines a world where electronics and living plants have merged and hybridized to create "living circuits." These circuits make sounds and broadcast them to the world using long antennas made of vines. The sound is made up of recordings of individual bees (honey bees, bumble bees, miners, leaf-cutters, and unidentified varieties) mixed with tones and sound artifacts from bio-electric synthesizer modules (modules that use parts of the plant within their circuitry). The piece is solar powered and goes through different phases and moods depending on the weather and the time of day.

This audio release features a mix of five pieces that overlap.

1. Windowsill [0:00 to 4:02] electromagnetic sounds from Halle (late night to early sunrise) while the bio-electric circuits sleep and then start to wake.

2. Transmitter [3:40 to 16:14] the piece is fully alive with virtual bees that inhabit the radio-waves like ghosts that sing along with the sounds of the plants themselves.

3. Untuned [15:39 to 25:37] the day after the piece was installed I did some recordings before the system was tuned. It sounds a bit like dozens of propellors or jet engines all running at the same time as the bio-electric circuits struggle to be heard.

4. Rustle [25:20 to 27:10] a short recording of wind rustling through the leaves of many climbing plants .. with the installation piece making quiet noises in the background.

5. Plant Duo [26:05 to 41:44] a duet performed by two bio-electric synthesizers .. recorded by happenstance at a random time in the afternoon when the sun was just breaking through the clouds.


released November 8, 2016

Photo-credit: "Leafcutter" by Lori Weidenhammer (author of Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees, Douglas & McIntyre, 2016).


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absolute value of noise Vancouver, British Columbia

Influenced by Merzbow, the Haters, Negativland and other denizens of noise-art culture, Absolute Value of Noise takes sound to the extreme. The artist likes to work with "gadgetry" - custom turntables, lamp filaments, wire coils, high voltage ionizers, robots, feedback systems, magnetic transmitters and receivers - to create both intense collages and minimal sonic threads. ... more

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