Interview for Middle East Technical University

Posted in Text on May 7th, 2018 by admin

I was recently asked some questions by Alparslan Teke of the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey about my instrument building practice, and I thought I might share the answers here.

1. How did you start making or altering electronic musical devices?

To make a long story incredibly short: I have always been interested in sound. However I lacked the discipline as a teenager to learn how to move my fingers quickly up and down the neck of a guitar or the keyboard of a piano. In my confusion, I considered “making sound” to be the same as “making music”. When I later figured out that most sound around us is in fact un-pitched, un-tempo-ed and therefore non-musical, my world opened up. But I discovered that most devices for making electronic sound still assumed one wanted to make “music” with them, so I started to take them apart to remove the “musical” part of the interface, or simply create my own from scratch, first in the Pure Data programming language and later with analog electronics.

2. In which relevant fields were you educated?

None. I studied literature in my bachelor’s studies, and silversmithing before that. Perhaps that accounts for my obsession with objects with tiny parts? Other than that I am not only entirely self-educated, but also in all my school years I nearly failed every math class which was ever forced on me. The fact that I am internationally recognized as a builder of electronics and a programmer of computers remains a gigantic mystery to me.

3. What were your motivations and/or purposes when you started, and (how) did they transform?

My instrument-building reflects an economic reality one faces as a non-academic, non-institutional artist these days. There is so much digital sound out there right now, and no one pays you for making any of it. But since we are working in the era of the “pro-sumer”, there are plenty of people who are constantly spending money on the tools to make their own sound. So what started as a way of taking control of my own tools and wrestling them away from the traditional music world ends up being an economic relationship with the music world all over again once they start to take interest in my way of working.

4. Do you consider this artistry (of making electronic/electroacoustic musical instruments) as your profession? If not, do you have any else?

I have no plan B at the moment. This is my day, night, weekday, weekend, summer, and winter job.

5. What words or concepts would you use to describe things you’ve created?

Non-linear, chaotic, generative, intuitive, iterative, multi-modal, phenomenological.

6. What related activities do you do that are directly or indirectly related to this occupation? (such as using the devices you made in performances, conducting workshops, etc.)

Currently a third of my time in this field is spent making instruments for sale. Another third is spent preparing for, traveling to and playing gigs. The last third is spent teaching.

7. Where and how do you get your ideas that end up with different devices?

Up to quite recently, almost everything in the analog synthesizer world was some kind of riff on something which was made in the 1960’s and 70’s already. This happens due to an unprecedented access to information about those devices which was much more mystical and unreachable at the time they were made. Despite the efforts of their inventors to share the knowledge at the time in many cases, the widest propagation effect was delayed until internet access became largely ubiquitous. I still think some of the best work in the field was done back then, and I spend a lot of time looking at old designs of audio and video devices from many eras, as well as related readings on the cultural, aesthetic, and philosophical ideas of the time which gave birth to these machines. Some of my favorite eras are the 1930’s (optical synthesis technology), the 1950’s (early analog and digital computer vector graphics), the late 1960’s (patchable, cybernetic analog computers become Buchla synthesizers), and the early 1970’s (after the Sony Portapak, television comes unglued through the work of Dan Sandin, Steve Rutt, Bill Etra, Steina and Woody Vasulka, Nam June Paik and others). However, the latest developments of hybrid digital/analog synthesizers have given me great hope and faith that finally we can also move on from these older models, and stop imitating drum machines from the early 80’s for the next 40 years.

8. Where and how do you get your raw material or components?

Small local shops when I’m in a hurry, larger European suppliers when I’m not. I haven’t moved to ordering from China in bulk yet. Most of my wooden instrument enclosures come from flea markets, antiques shops, strange collectors I have met over the years, and EBay.

9. How much time of a day or week (or a month, a year) do you spend on the workbench? Do you have a working schedule?

Sometimes I sleep. Then I feel guilty. I don’t know how to take vacations since beaches bore me to death, so I always end up finding some way to make a project out of a trip.

10. What time of this is actually building something, and in which other ways you spend time there? Would you confine your occupation of creating new musical devices to only the activities you do on the workbench?

As I said, I am pretty much always working. If I am not building, performing, or teaching, you can usually find me in “my office” (currently a rather relaxed cafe-bar in the Kallio district of Helsinki) doing research.

11. Do you have a separate workshop to maintain your effort, or is it embedded in the place you live in?

I had a working space in my Berlin flat for several years. It was the most unhealthy thing I ever did to myself, and my quality of life improved dramatically when I started renting out a studio. In Helsinki, I share a small space with a couple other artists who are pretty much never there, but I do dream about getting a larger space for myself again once finances allow it.

12. Do you produce in large quantities? Do you use the devices you`ve made, or do you sell them? Does this occupation provide you a livelihood?

I make everything in very small batches. This is because I am too stubborn to get into modern, automated processes and compulsively do things in very difficult ways, by hand. There is such a giant market for Euro-rack synthesizers made in far more efficient ways, I feel like if I get involved in that it will be a race to the bottom in terms of cost and quality. Probably I’m just a huge control freak.

I stand by everything I have built, and I use my own instruments every time I perform. In fact, I can’t really stand using things other people have built unless it’s something that would be really redundant to make myself, like a 16 channel audio mixer.

I have been lucky enough to be able to live from my art for the better part of two decades now, but that has also meant that I must constantly re-evaluate what “my art” means. This is how commercial instrument building and teaching became folded into my work. As I said, there is no plan B. It’s too late in life for me to get a start in the banking industry.

13. With whom do you most frequently interact as part of this
occupation of yours?

Workshop participants. I have offered my workshops in artist-run spaces, in music and media arts festivals, and in bachelors and masters level university programs in a variety of areas, including but not limited to architecture, theater, visual arts, media studies, audiovisual design, and music conservatory studies, in countries across Europe, North and South America, and New Zealand. The participants of these workshops have come from all walks of life, from professional Scandinavian artists to Native American high schoolers who have been tragically mis-labeled as “problem students”. The oldest participant in one of my workshops has been nearly 80, and the youngest just 8. One of the most unique participants was completely visually-impaired, yet insisted he would solder together his own electronic instrument. With a bit of assistance, he did just fine.

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The Vectorian Era

Posted in Text on November 23rd, 2016 by admin

xy-day-two-03

THE VECTORIAN ERA: an Investigation into Analog Computer Graphics

The Vectorian Era opens with a screaming across the sky. Analog electronic computers predate their digital counterparts by several decades, and one of the first practical applications of the analog computer was in controlling the trajectories of German V2 rockets as they traced their rainbow of gravity from Flanders towards London during the Second World War. As Friedrich Kittler has observed, the relationship of media technology to military tools of destruction was sealed by moments such as these.

Post-war developments continued in this direction. Tennis for Two, programmed in 1958 by William Higinbotham on an analog computer at Brookhaven National Laboratories in Long Island NY USA, using an oscilloscope as the display. It combined a two-player interface with physics models of a bouncing ball displayed as vectors in motion, and is arguably the first publicly-playable video game. The laboratory itself performed government research into nuclear physics, energy technology, and national security.

In the early 1960’s, the composer Morton Subotnik employed engineer Don Buchla to help him create “the music of the future”. Buchla redesigned the existing function generators of analog computers to respond to voltage controls of their frequency and amplitude. This gave birth to the realtime-controllable, analog modular synthesizer which was subsequently expanded by others such as Bob Moog and Serge Tcherepnin.

In 1967, the Sony Portapak revolutionized video by taking the camera out of the television studio and into the hands of amateurs and artists. And by the early 1970’s, an interest in cybernetics, systems theory and automatic processes brought the analog computer closer to the worlds of art, music, and architecture. Figures such as Heinz von Foerster, Gordon Pask, Nam June Paik, Steina and Woody Vasulka, Iannis Xenakis and R. Buckminster Fuller all speculated on the effect of computers on society, and used computer-derived forms in their work. The 1972 Rutt-Etra Video Synthesizer, used famously by the Vasukas in several works, employed an analog computer to manipulate and deconstruct the raster of a conventional video signal with very otherworldly effects.

Vector graphics were widely adopted by video game manufacturers in the late 1970’s due to their computational efficiency, and the wealth of experience using them that the history of analog computing provided. Perhaps the most iconic of these games is Asteroids, a space shooter released by Atari in 1979. Battle Zone (1980), Tempest (1981), and Star Wars (1983) all stand as other notable examples from this Vectorian Era, and also as rudimentary training tools for the future e-warriors who would remotely guide missiles into Iraqi bunkers at the start of the next decade. As electronics became cheaper, smaller, and faster in the 1980’s, the dated technology of using analog vectors to directly manipulate a Cathode Ray Tube fell out of favor and rasterized graphics, animations and moving image quickly took their place.

Informed by the discourse of media archaeology, my own personal interest in analog vector graphics isn’t merely retro-for-retro’s-sake. Rather, it is an exploration of a once-current and now discarded technology linked with specific utopias and dystopias from another time. The fact that many aspects of our current utopian aspirations (and dystopian anxieties!) remain largely unchanged since the dawn of the Vectorian Era indicates to me that seeking to satisfy them with technology alone is quite problematic. Therefore, an investigation into “tried-and-failed” methods from the past casts our current attempts and struggles in a new kind of light.

Derek Holzer
23 NOV 2016
Helsinki FI

sage_pinup

IMAGES:

–TOP: Derek Holzer, “VECTOR SYNTHESIS” study, August 2015, Berlin DE
–MIDDLE: “VECTOR SYNTHESIS” studies, January 2017, Helsinki FI
–BOTTOM: Early computer art created by anonymous IBM engineers, this pinup girl program is running on a SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) defense computer. Polaroid photo by Lawrence A. Tipton, 1959, Ft. Lee Virginia USA. Via The Atlantic.

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Interview for Makery Magazine

Posted in Text on March 19th, 2015 by admin

My good friend Ewen Chardronnet asked me to answer a few questions about the DELILAH TOO installation, my instrument-building practice and the workshop process. You can read my replies here.

One of my first formal trainings was as a silversmith, so the idea of making real things with my hands has always held far more appeal than the symbolic substitutions and semiotic shell games so beloved by the more conceptual and theoretical wings of the contemporary art world. But I think my instrument-building also reflects an economic reality one faces as a non-academic, non-institutional artist these days. There is so much digital music out there right now, and no one pays you for making any of it. But since we are working in the era of the “pro-sumer”, there are plenty of people who are constantly spending money on the tools to make their own music.

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Reflections on the LAK Festival 2013

Posted in Documentation, Text on October 9th, 2013 by admin

Photo Flora Tosti

Changing the Power Base

Around the time of the recent Female Pressure report, which called out many sound and music festivals around the globe for their scandalously poor representation of female artists, I had several discussions with the main organizers of the LAK Festival (three quarters women, incidentally) about how to address the issue. To their credit, they didn’t make a big deal about it. No “female artist showcase” or other kinds of tokenism involved. They simply selected artists they were interested in, which just so happened to place a fairly even number of men and women on the stage that weekend. Which is pretty much how things should be, in my own opinion.

What surprised me more was the turnout for the workshops. There are many ways of reaching out to potential participants of an arts and technology workshop. Written one way, with a focus on parts-catalog jargon and makerlab buzzwords, the turnout is often exclusively dudes in their mid-20’s who wear hooded sweatshirts 24 hours a day, rarely bathe and posses an obsessive interest in controlling their toaster with an Arduino or 3D-printing yet another ashtray.

Written another way, with more of a nod to aesthetics and content, or even just acknowledging a more intuitive and non-linear approach to arts-n-tech, the results are much more varied and far richer. In this sense, I guess we did something right because three quarters of the workshop participants were women–as compared with a whopping zero percent in the workshop I taught to a Danish university sound design course the following week!

I emphasize the presentation and participation of women not from a “Yeah, sisters!” kind of feminism, but rather as a barometer of how it is possible to reach out from a traditional arts or music festival power base. Age, education, race or class could be another set of many possible indicators left for another set of reflections on this or any other festival.

Photo Flora Tosti

Life in an Alienating Utopia

One criticism of the festival I have heard in several places is that it was merely “sound-for-sound’s-sake.” And this could well be valid–from the position of the passive spectator. I’m sorry if this is news to anyone, but even after one hundred years of history, electronic sound remains a fundamentally alienating dystopia for the exact same reasons it provides a creative utopia.

Namely, this is because it is no longer necessary to have the source of the sound present during its performance, and because sounds can be created which have never been heard before, both through means with which the audience has no connection visual or otherwise. Any kind of electronic sound presentation which neglects this alienation on the part of a traditional audience is doomed to failure with them. Simply put, it’s not just “all about the sound.” Not now, and not ever.

Innovative approaches to engaging the audience don’t regurgitate the 90’s “interactivity” model of waving to the machine in the proper way so that the machine waves back. Nor do they sugar-coat everything in accessible techno beats. The performer who crouches motionless behind the laptop, mixer or pile of obscure gear playing (or playing back) what one LAK reviewer simple-mindedly called “ant-war” music deserves the reaction they get from outside the small, safe confines of their scene.

Don’t get me wrong here, I love challenging, experimental music–when it is well-presented. But I simply gave up on expecting it to “cross over” to a larger audience long ago. There are very few “civilians” (as Kristina Andersen quipped to me one evening) at an experimental sound art festival, and the ones who do show up can be a cynical bunch.

Photo Flora Tosti

The Participatory Model

The “sound-for-sound’s-sake” criticism immediately falls apart when the participatory model is taken. In my own workshops, I have noticed again and again that people who would never attend an experimental concert are quite happy to play one of their own when given the chance. Other people’s noise can be annoying, but your own noise–that is sublime! So instead of trying to pack 100 people in a room to watch one self-indulgent noise artist, why not let 10 people become one for themselves for a few hours?

This is the challenge to the passive, cynical audience member… to drop the cool, “what the fuck” posture and take part in something rather than stand by the sidelines and spectate. As Tore Honoré Boe observes about his Acoustic Laptops, when people first see a wooden box with a few toothbrushes glued inside, their skepticism remains high until they actually reach inside and “touch the sound”. Then their attitude immediately changes and they find themselves captivated by their own noise.

For me, two of the most successful workshops were led by Mads Bech Paulszewski-Hau and John Grzinich. In each case, participants committed themselves to days of preparation, creating a tactile sonic installation and a blindfolded sound walk which they themselves were responsible for presenting during the festival. The workshop leaders worked with a goal of planned obsolescence, facilitating and fading into the background the more the participants became confident of their own work. These participants came from a wide range of backgrounds, from visual arts to movement to music to simple interest–as did many of the workshop participants that week. The common factor was the complaint that access to information about sound art was very hard for them to find.

Similarly successful were the CEO Bendorama circuit-bending workshop, the Syntjuntan circuit-sewing workshop, and in particular Kristina Andersen’s ElectroSqueak Club instrument-building workshop for children, all of which provided a low-stress point of contact with electronics, materials and sound which simply does not exist in arts education on the university or community level almost anywhere else. One particularly interesting turn of events came when one of Christian Skjødt‘s improvisation workshop participants installed herself in the stairwell and in her own way joined the lineup of the festival. By and large, those who came–the untrained, the curious, the non-professional–were “civilians” in the most basic sense of the word.

Photo Kristina Andersen

Let a Thousand Noise Artists Bloom

–But who is going to watch all these freshly-born sound artists perform?

–Who cares.

The participatory model is highly resistant to stage-elevation. It simply isn’t the point. For centuries, folk music has been created not by professional artists but by everyday people for their collective enjoyment, rather than to single one person out as The Artist and celebrate them alone. Why should electronic sound, the folk music of our age, be any different? In that sense, one cannot complain if there are “too many” sound artists or performers out there, since it is no longer about competition for other people’s attention. The consolation prize is perhaps more people coming into the scene to spectate on other people’s sound art performances some time in the future. Think of it as a small investment…

Photo Flora Tosti

A Deeper Sense of Contact

This kind of thinking requires a radical reboot of the traditional festival strategy of success-through-maximum-headcount, however. The participatory model is democratic in the sense that it allows direct access, and not because it sells thousands of tickets. Like being one of six pupils at a Montessori or Steiner school rather than one of hundreds at a public school, it is a deeper, more involved way to experience the art form and should be valued for that reason, and not because some “thump thump thump” put a lot of hands in the air.

Do you try to touch a thousand people in a superficial way, or touch a dozen people in a deep way? Depends on your funding model, I suppose. But moving away from one’s traditional, elite power base always requires new models. So even when it means less bodies in a room for now, I am happy to see LAK moving in that direction.

—D. Holzer, Västernorrland, Sweden 09 Oct 2013

Thanks and Appreciation

My sincere thanks to Katrine Møllebæk, Sif Hellerup Madsen, Agnete Seerup, Rasmus Cleve Christensen and the festival volunteers for organizing a great week, to John Grzinich, CEO Bendorama, Tore Honoré Boe, Christian Skjødt, Mads Bech Paluszewski-Hau, Kristina Andersen, Lise-Lotte Norelius and Ann Rosén for their hard work on thew workshops, to Dani Dögenigt and Sebastian Edin for their assistance during the workshops, and to all the workshop participants for their interest and energies! Photos courtesy of LAK Festival, Kristina Andersen and Flora Tosti.

Photo Kristina Andersen

Photo Flora Tosti

Photo Flora Tosti

Photo Flora Tosti

Photo Flora Tosti

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back to civilization…

Posted in Announcement, Text on January 12th, 2012 by admin


Near village of Mooste EE, 3 Jan 2012

Currently teaching a workshop for the TAIK Media Lab in rainy Helsinki after an amazing New Years trip to MOKS in southeast Estonia, where I walked, cooked, sauna’ed, ate and drank with friends and worked on some sound with Jelena Glazova from Riga. Her processed vocals vs my feedbacking soundboxes… Perhaps some glimpses of this project will make it online later on when I’m back in Berlin and have time to edit them.

I just confirmed two gigs, one Macumbista live set for Electric Spring in Huddersfield UK on 15 February (along with a two day workshop preceding this) and one TONEWHEELS performance and lecture for Sonores in Guimaraes PT on 27 April. I’d be very interested to hear from London people about activities around 16-19 February… pls get in touch!

Now Playing

hive mindelemental disgrace[2011 spectrum spools]

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Playlist: 2011 in Sounds

Posted in Text on January 2nd, 2012 by admin

aluk todoloordre[2011 ajna offensive]
asvapresence of absence[2011 important]
barn owl + jefre cantu-ledesmalive at levee berlin[may 2011]
barn owl & the infinite strings ensemblethe headlands[2011 important]
ben frostlive at berghain berlin[feb 2011]
bohren and der club of gorebeileid ep[2011 ipecac]
charlemagne palestinelive at tuned city tallinn[july 2011]
corruptedgarten der unbewusstheit[2011 cold ashes]
crippled black phoenixlive at festsaal kreuzberg berlin[may 2011]
cut handsafro noise 1[2011 very friendly/susan lawly]
diamanda galaslive at wundergrund copenhagen[oct 2011]
earthangels of darkness, demons of light I[2011 southern lord]
elehradiant intervals[2011 important]
eliane radiguetransamorem, transmortem[2011 important]
ellen fullmanthrough glass panes[2011 important]
evan caminitiwhen california falls into the sea 12″[2011 handmade birds]
falls of raurosthe light that dwells in rotten wood[2011 bindrune]
lasse marhauglive at wundergrund copenhagen[nov 2011]
master musicians of bukkakelive at festsaal kreuzberg berlin[may 2011]
mika vainiolife (… it eats you up)[2011 editions mego]
motion sickness of time traveldreamcatcher cs[2011 hobo cult records]
oneohtrix point neverreplica[2011 software]
pharaoh overlordout of darkness[2011 ektro]
pj harveylet england shake[2011 island]
the skull defects feat. daniel higgspeer amid[2011 thrill jockey]
thomas ankersmitlive at tuned city tallinn[july 2011]
tim heckerravedeath 1972[2011 kranky]
trevor wisharttalk and concert at DIEM aarhus[dec 2011]
various artistsbrass pins & match heads: international 78s[2011 mississippi]
valerio tricoli & thomas ankersmitforma II[2011 pan-act]
wolves in the throne roomcelestial lineage[2011 southern lord]

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30 x 2010

Posted in Text on December 14th, 2010 by admin

barn owlancestral star[2010 thrill jockey]
bastard noisea culture of monsters[2010 deep six]
burzumbelus[2010 byelobog productions]
crippled black phoenixi, vigilante[2010 invada]
deathspell omegaparacletus[2010 season of mist]
dispiritrehearsal at oboroten cs[2010]
drudkhhandful of stars[2010 season of mist]
elehrepose[2010 touch]
emeraldsdoes it look like i’m here?[2010 editions mego]
expo 70the vanishing world within[2010 sonic meditations]
grailsblack tar prophecies vol iv[2010 important]
heckerneu[2010 editions mego]
jana winderenenergy field[2010 touch]
jon muellerthe whole[2010 type]
keith fullerton whitmanvariations for oud and synthesizer 7″[2010 no label]
kevin drummnecro acoustic 5cd box[2010 picadisk]
kiss the anus of a black cathewers of wood and drawers of water[2010 zeal]
loscilendless falls[2010 kranky]
oneohtrix point neverreturnal[2010 editions mego]
pan sonicgravitoni[2010 blast first]
robin foxa handful of automation[2010 editions mego]
silvester anfang iicommune cassetten lp[2010 blackest rainbow]
starkweatherthis sheltering night[2010 deathwish inc]
swansmy father will guide me up a rope to the sky[2010 young god][pictured]
thomas ankersmitlive in utrecht[2010 ash international]
various artiststo scratch your heart: early recordings from istanbul[2010 honest jons]
watainlawless darkness[2010 season of mist]
woven handthe threshingfloor[2010 glitterhouse]
yellow swansbeing there+going places[2010 type]
zaimphcoast to coast c40[2010 gift tapes]

Happy 2011!!!!

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Some Thoughts on Concept and Craft

Posted in Text on November 4th, 2010 by admin

Raymond Parker, Untitled, 1959

While Pop art constantly referred to contemporary society through its reconfiguration of consumerist images, Color Field painting consciously distanced itself from societal referents and focused on the lyrical possibilities of color.

—“Color Fields” exhibition catalog, Deutsche Guggenheim, 2010

An Estonian art student recently informed me that, “since WWII” as he was taught, the position of the artist has essentially become that of a conceptual engineer rather than that a mere “craftsman”. I did as best I could to protest. On the one hand, I argued, this means that the artist is largely divorced from the process of creating their own work. All the would-be Jeff Koonses or Damien Hirsts who relegate their labor to hired armies of technicians and assistants lose the direct familiarity with the medium that they work in, and subsequently miss out on any suggestions that the materiality of that medium might have on their creative process.

On the other hand, what it leads to is a vision of art as a cynical manipulation of symbols and referents alone. Whether it is the visual-arts hipster ironically juxtaposing iconic cultural references, or the media-arts nerd sonifying stock market data streamed at them through Twitter, it all becomes a series of artistic black boxes where we can only assume that what comes out has some relationship to what went in. And when anything=anything, the end result is that the we the artists take a stand on nothing.

One week it’s unwatchable “found footage” from YouTube in the galleries, the next it’s sock monkeys, with everyone in the monkey camp loudly denouncing those who still prefer handycams to knitting. The Estonian student’s professor once placed a golden replica in the former location of a controversial Soviet-era statue in Tallinn.  In his 5 minutes of fame on the evening news, he preferred to mumble something about “relational aesthetics” rather than admit that the action might actually mean something. And so we the audience…in the end we can believe in nothing.

When I began working on the TONEWHEELS project, I was more interested in the technical side of this equation: how to avoid the black box of the computer and how to demonstrate a tangible connection between image and sound. But now I see how it addresses the conceptual side as well.  By working with direct optical synthesis, I hope (in a similar manner to the Color Field painters of the 1960s, the subject of a current exhibition at the Deutsch Guggenheim) to shortcut this reliance on symbols and intellectualism in favor of the only thing left to believe in: the direct, personal and physical experience of light and sound.

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Lost in Transit

Posted in Text on October 20th, 2010 by admin

I’m currently waiting to see if Scandinavian Airlines can locate the suitcase containing my synthesizer, misplaced somewhere between Bergen, Norway and Aalborg, Denmark on Tuesday morning. After 36 hours a kind of delirium sets in, thinking about two and a half years of (uninsured) work floating around out there somewhere in the world.

Is it a sign I shouldn’t have brought such a precious thing out of the house? Or maybe just a sign I am traveling too much?

I saw quite a few lake-forest-and-mountain-view cabins around Norway that I wouldn’t have minded settling down in with that very synth, a pair of Genelec speakers, some tape to record onto and maybe a spare change of clothing for the next year or two. Someone please tell me how to follow those dreams!

Or at least tell me where my goddamned electronics are…

EDIT: SAS finally did tell me where my electronics are, and I should be reunited with them shortly as of morning of 21 Oct. Leaving this entry up as a snapshot of my mental processes…

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Hungarian tour/post-ISEA

Posted in Text on August 28th, 2010 by admin

Hungarian Tour

From 31 August until 5 September, I will be joining András Nun (UH Fest, Budapest), Luka Ivanovic (Luka Toyboy, Beograd), Balázs Pándi (Merzbow drummer/A38, Budapest) and Péter Szabó (Jackie Triste, Budapest) for a tour of various locations in Hungary related to András’ work with human interest NGOs.

András has described the theme of our excursions as Poverty and Exclusion in Hungary–or–What Can an International Festival Representing Peripheral Music Do About the Problem of People Forced to the Periphery, How Can It Act Against Their Exclusion? and the project has tie-ins to the upcoming UH Festival in Budapest in October.

Our trip will take us through the cities/regions of Monor, Budapest, Esztergom, Vanyarc, Szomolya, Berettyóújfalu and Bicske and will end with a sound workshop for young Afghan refugees. A challenging situation to be sure, but one I look forward to!

ISEA Disasters

On the topic of challenging situations…I just returned from my participation in the KHM Heavy Matter show at ISEA 2010 in Dortmund. I had much harsher words lined up about the way this event unfolded, which I will refrain from putting into print.

Suffice to say that, in spite of massive infrastructural shortcomings and an almost complete lack of support from the venue (an investment-wreck shopping mall) or the organizations involved, I at least succeeded in playing one half hour set of extremely loud and chaotic analog synthesizer sound in the confines of a very small elevator. Photos and sounds soon…

ISEA Highlights

Besides this glorious waste of my own time and money, the weekend there was brightened by seeing exhibited projects by Natalie Bewernitz & Marek Goldowski, Aernoudt Jacobs, Yunchul Kim, Herwig Weiser, HC Gilje, Carsten Nicolai, Sophie Bélair Clément and Joyce Hinterding at the two major locations in Dortmund.

The Arctic Perspectives show organized by Hartware Medienkunst Verein at the Phoenix Halle was also mind-blowing in its scale, and could easily consume several days of attention with its collection of videos, field recordings, literature and architectural models.

Climbing around in the beautiful rust-scape of the abandoned factory next to the Phoenix Halle was certainly worth the trip, and seeing the collection of analog synths at Institute for Computer Music and Electronic Media (ICEM) in Essen-Werden was a memorable experience, even if it meant sitting through almost an entire day of dry, cliched electroacoustic compositions (sometimes with goddamned opera singers!) to get to that point. And finally props to the Estonians for You Must Relax – A Day Without the Mobile Phone, by Eve Arpo and Riin Rõõs. If only every day could be so nice!

Thanks go out to Servando Barreiro for being Da Roadie, and to Timo Toots for being Da Man!

Now Playing

bruno madernamusica elettronica[1994 stradivarius]
common eider, king eiderworn[2010 root strata]
david tudorneural synthesis nos. 6-9[1995 lovely]
earle brownselected works 1952-1965[2006]
grouperhold-sick 7″[2010 room40]
heart museumleaf[2010 mars pyramid]
heckerneu[2010 editions mego]
jan jelinek & masayoshi fujitabird lake objects[2010 faitiche]
keiji haino & pan sonicin the studio 2LP[2010 blast first petite]
mood organcalcinatio 52 x C13, vols. 9 & 10[2010 self-released][thx timm!]
nadjasky burial[2010 latitudes]
the dan people (ivory coast)dan masks[1993 ocora]
various artistsforge your own chains-heavy psychedelic ballads and dirges 1968-1974[2010 now-again]
various artistsmata la pena-a compilation of international music[2010 mississippi]
various artistsstring of pearls_jewels of the 78rpm era 1918-1951[2010 mississippi]
von goatseptic illumination[2010 nuclear war now!]

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