On Christmas Day 1906, Reginald Aubrey Fessenden transmitted music and voice across the Atlantic in the first radio broadcast in history. Inspired by this event, radio artists Absolute Value of Noise and Anna Friz joined with animator/live video mixer Glenn Gear to create a performance that worked with the themes of "invisible" sounds, hidden voices, and the early days of radio communication on the Atlantic Ocean. Drawing from tales of ghost ships and myths that claimed the seafaring dead could be contacted via shortwave, this performance conjured an ethereal world of distant voices, sea, and static. Now this piece is available as an eight track audio release that takes the listener from the dawn of radio through a journey across the sea, and into the future of a radio-sphere that is over-populated by the activities of humans and their devices.
Absolute Value of Noise (absolutevalueofnoise.ca
) plays with ELF (extremely low frequency) receivers to convert radiation (from transmitters, cell-phones, wireless devices and electronic equipment) into audible sound. He uses large circular antennas to draw strange noises from the equipment of the other performers and the magneto-sphere of the performance space.
Anna Friz (nicelittlestatic.com
) employs Theremin, glockenspiel, electronics and sampled 78 rpm records alongside extremely low-watt transmissions of voice and breath. She considers the human desire for remote contact as manifest in these material signals, where bodily sounds captured through baby monitors, walkie talkies and cordless phones are rendered both fragile and monstrous by the compression of lo-fidelity technologies. In performance, Anna diffuses these sounds through a multi-channel speaker system, and through several small FM transmitters to twelve radio receivers suspended above the audience.
Glenn Gear (vimeo.com/glenngear
) creates live video montages exploring the ephemeral and "distressed" connections between trans-Atlantic crossings, the lore of the sea, broadcast signals and noise. Responding to the soundscapes created during the performance, he mixes video clips on-the-fly and builds dreamlike visuals that combine archival film footage, vintage animation, personal video recordings, television static, and photographs.