South Walney Radio: Transmitting Turbulence
The wind shakes the wind clears and I see/hear the synapses
The wind proposes and the wind moves a flock of birds continuously (12:43)
[Monday 2nd of October 2017 12:37]
South Walney Radio is a fragile undertaking: a chain of receivers hanging from the ceiling, spitting out fragments of the spit, occasional outbursts of cow hums and flocks of birds carried around by the wind. A low-power transmitter and an antenna serve as a Totemic presence to signify the invisible thresholds of transmission. I have not yet been to Walney island. It is all a reconstruction of turbulent remote encounters. Each Monday for four consecutive weeks leading to FON Festival, I watched sealcam broadcasts and listened to austere open microphone intercepts, for 10 minutes each time, and attempted to imagine, in writing, how it is to be there. South Walney Radio offers a stochastic glance both into what I could have experienced if on the island and into what is not heard or experienced on-site (and on-time) in the stall inside Barrow Market Hall, where the piece is installed as part of FON Festival.
SWR re-appropriates very private moments of engagement of Grant and Dawn with the island; approximately 11 hours of material made of slow lonely walks and chance encounters, of varying volumes and lengths, with the site and its non-human communities and weather. The array of receivers form an arch and the sounds traverse each device to create a non-linear conversation between the off-site / off-synched voices and the ongoing hums and creeks and hisses of three live audio streams also playing through different listening posts across the stall. The wind, as in every other day, is quite present during these three days of the festival, affecting the longevity of the live streams themselves. The wind makes a strong statement in the space, shaking our perceptions and stirring our embodied and disembodied memories of the island. It vibrates through the cone of the speakers in the listening booths, it reflects on the surfaces and the wide display window of the stall.
Wind is shaking the ear of the microphone
Pestering left and right
A passing car and the turbulence of wind carrying the birds with it (14:58)
A repeated motion that spits droplets of saltwater to my face, birds on the right
A solitary perception / an attempt to navigate
[Monday 16th of October 2017 14:57]
SWR offers the chance to open up new spaces of listenership that are prone to interference, frailty and failure. The movement of bodies across the room, the changes in weather and light, the invasive nature of electromagnetic signals emitted by other devices in the same space are becoming active agents within the transmission environment. The turbulence in the room is ventriloquized through the small speakers of the receivers; the minute movements affect the signal reception and become crackling sounds across the devices. These small crackles move as we move next to the antennas as the wind moves the speaker cones and its deep low rumble mutates into standing waves across the room. The voices of the passers-by, the chatter of the artists-connoisseurs is almost drowned, muted making the experience of South Walney Radio, in that particular corner of the room a solitary exploration of how our bodies are sounded through the sounds of the island. We attach our ears to the speakers and hope to understand whether what are listening to is the island, the space or 'ourselves' oscillating through the airwaves.
To my right, a gull shrieking,
Mild wind and the waves 14:47
I drop in and out 14:48
A ship's distant drone, the seals are sleeping, mild waves spitting 14:49 (web cam)
[Monday 9th of October 2017 14:46]
With clean ears, and the safety of distance, South Walney Radio resembled an ethereal cabinet of curiosities made of a collection of fragments of valuable tokens for a future endeavor. It was a testament of the journey undertaken to that point in time. It was certainly, mostly a journey, for me at least. Another way of navigating myself through the spit; the hides, curves and lines of the island. No previous engagement with the recorded material was necessary. A long playlist was created by dragging and dropping material in loops, separated by brief jingle intermissions. No historic or contextual understanding of the content. The content and the radio were both exposed to chance operations generated by time, space, human and non-human interactions and activities. The broadcast was more than anything else a journey through turbulence; an open ended process.
The low rumble remains.
Distant bird call, on the right.
[Monday 25th of September 2017 14:03]