7 Apr 2017

the tūī sings the place, not about the place

It is now Autumn in Dunedin, the gathering days just after the daylight saving change. The tightening of light, where the magic-hour creeps into an earlier time-slot, and becomes a particular hue of grey-green-gold at a certain time of late afternoon/early evening, one that occludes certain colours and makes the khaki land look even more sombre, like a fading bruise with a yellow edge, or a piece of precious yet neglected metal, crusted with verdigris but still glowing pale gold through it. And then, just before sundown, the darkness seems to sit preemptively, visibly and heavily on certain objects, making them hard to see. The skin of whatever part of the body has been unwisely left at the mercy of the elements prickles against the gathering cold and darkness, with a kind of thrill that reminds the body it's alive, and that winter is coming and it better be ready. 

And the birds seem to know what's coming too. After a week working mainly at home in the near-silence of the hillside neighbourhood, every day has begun with a particular neighbourhood tūī, which is itself the exact colours of this landscape, chortling and sparking outside my window like a malfunctioning robot, before gurgling lower tones, sometimes completely inaudible - the bird is singing visibly, but i can't hear anything - and despite all the historic notation of tūī songs here on the table in front of me, i can't hear any of this experimentalism, in this supposed transcription of this bird's "music", only a historic human - and specific cultural (pakeha) - listening talking to itself, and leaving the bird out of things. it would be better to look at the sounds the bird is making as emergent properties of this place, too, and not abstract them in such ways, or relegate them to the airless space of a field recording on a harddrive, a dead museum of sound. 

I am so grateful that these beings are still among us, that they are some of the few that have survived, the few that can live with us. While our familiarity and sharing of space extends to conviviality to these birds as endemic, their over-depiction in sentimentalised also hides the fact of their complete otherness from us, the ways in which their song also contains a memory of the emergent properties of a landscape that we have actively destroyed, that we have never seen. Maybe the clues are here, in the song, rather than the archive. Today's research into the question : 'do birds hear bird song like we hear bird song?' (short answer:no) + other aspects of bird listening has produced various reflections on divergent evolutionary pathways, the anthropocentrism of various prior models of listening, and the bare fact that humans really don't sense better, they merely sense differently, and perhaps in some ways, not as well: "300 million years ago when mammals split from birds, birds in some ways got the better deal." But all this could basically be summed up by the sentence: i wish i could hear what that tūī hears of its own song, when it sings.

More to come, on that, I hope.


image: 'Poe Bird' or Tui
James Cook, A Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round the World: Performed in His Majesty’s ships the Resolution and Adventure, in the years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775, 2 vols (London: Printed for W Strahan & T Cadell, 1777)
University of Canterbury Library

13 Feb 2017


on Feburary 12 radio cegeste was invited to perform at Quiet Noise VI, an annual house/backyard show challenging experimental/noise performers to play without amplification, curated by Clinton Green (of Shame File Music) in his suburban garden in West Footscray, in Melbourne, Australia. 

taking a somewhat baroque approach to this ideal opportunity to explore the theme of non-electric amplification, I brought a Columbia Graphophone Cylinder Phonograph (a very special Model Type AA, c.1901-1902, the "smallest talking machine" sold by Columbia; it plays 2 minute cylinders, and is all original including the horn) all the way from New Zealand.

24 Sep 2016

'Das Große Rauschen: the Metamorphosis of Radio' at Radio Revolten Zentrale, Halle.

arriving in Germany to be resident for the month of October in the city of Halle (Saale) to participate in the Radio Revolten International Radio Art Festival, I am joining more than 70 artists from 17 countries who will visit this month to contribute in a variety of ways to the festival, at the invitation of artistic director Knut Aufermann, and co-curators Anna Friz, Sarah Washington, Ralf Wendt and Elisabeth Zimmermann. That’s 30 non-stop, exciting and exhausting days of contemporary radio art, at 15 locations around this small and picturesque city, in the form of performances, site-specific installations, concerts and events, and live radio broadcasts, as well as discussions in the upcoming symposium Radio Space is the Place. The festival will be transmitting 24 hours a day on Radio Revolten Radio, on the FM frequency 99.3 MHz in Halle, further afield locally on the AM (middlewave) frequency 1575 kHz, and reaching a worldwide audience via the festival livestream. Additionally, 35 radio stations around the world will integrate parts of Radio Revolten Radio into their own programming, including Resonance FM, Radio Zero, Wave Farm/WGXC Hudson Valley NY, and other stations involved in the Radia network, whose members will also take the opportunity to converge for a two-day meeting and thinktank at the studios of Halle's Radio Corax during the festival.

A week out from the opening, I am currently setting up my installation within the walls of room 106, once the office of a certain Frau Dieter, on the first floor of Radio Revolten Central in Rathausstraße 4, for the contemporary art exhibit Das Grosse Rauschen: The Metamorphosis of Radio (2nd–30th October 2016), which also features Steve Bates (ca/qc), DinahBird and Jean-Philippe Renoult (fr), Golo Föllmer and friends (de), Fernando Godoy M and Rodrigo Ríos Zunino (cl), Jeff Kolar (us), Emmanuel Madan (ca/qc), Kristen Roos (ca), with Maia Urstad (no) installed in the Stadtmuseum Halle as part of the “Unsichtbar Welle” historical installation. The curator of Das Grosse Rauschen, Anna Friz describes the exhibition as grouping “international artists working on the cutting edge of art with a trailing edge technology,” focusing on the expanded context of radio art: “What other possibilities might exist for radio in the popular imagination, what significance might radio have outside of it’s usual functions of broadcasting information and entertainment? Artists working with radio have consistently sought to re-imagine the medium itself: to subvert the standardized and institutional approaches to broadcasting, to challenge ownership (state or corporate) of the airwaves, to rethink what counts as transmission infrastructure by pulling radio out of the studio and into new spaces for public actions, installations, performances, infiltrations, and interferences.”

My contribution to this exhibition is threefold, with an interconnected suite of works exploring the indeterminacies of historical memory via the medium of transmission: site-specific iterations of Collected Silences for Lord Rothschild and modified radio memorial (a fissure in the line of a public silence) will be joined by a new work, study for a data-deficient species (grey ghost transmission). More detail follows:

24 Jul 2016

transmitter building workshop, part of the B.Y.O. BATTERY series.

on July 24 I hosted a mini FM transmitter building workshop for ten people at The Anteroom, an non-profit artist run space based in an ex Masonic Lodge in Port Chalmers, run by the media artist Charlotte Parallel. The workshop was part of a series of D.I.Y creative technology and skill-sharing events Charlotte curated called 'BYO Battery'. 

This workshop's intention was to make transmission technologies accessible, with participants constructing their own simple hand made ultra low watt transmitter with which to narrowcast their own sounds. Grounding this practical making within wider theoretical reflection and discussion of how DIY analogue technologies might inform our understanding of communications within the post-digital present, drawing on the histories of DIY radio making and free radio experiments in 1970s and 1980s Italian and Japanese media art and activist histories, we also discussed the use of transmission media for artistic and non-centralised cultural purposes. With participants coming from various backgrounds, including dance, experimental music, and film, it was a stimulating day. True to the spirit of the series, everyone also brought along their own 9v power source. 

14 Jul 2016

a horn of chicken wire, a new kokako, and Douglas Lilburn's media zombies at the National Library

On the 14th of July at 1pm I gave a performance/lecture at the National Library, Wellington, in response to Zombies on the Horizon, an exhibition drawing on archival collections to tell a lateral story of the development of experimental music in Aotearoa, put together by the National Library's music curator Matt Steindl for the Turnbull Gallery.

1 Apr 2016

marcasite radio: experiment #1.

a brief post-midnight birthday-morning experiment / work-in-progress report. the first vaguely successful attempt at materialising an object i've been thinking about for quite a while now, which has the working title of 'marcasite radio' and is, essentially, an experiment in 1920s residual media, based around the speculation that the white iron pyrite that was used to make marcasite jewellery in the 1920s and 30s might also be able to be used as the crystalline mineral in a crystal detector. 

I'm pleased to be able to report initial success - when set into a crystal radio receiver of the same era, my maternal great grandmother's marcasite brooch becomes a radio mineral, a diode that faintly speaks the voices of the aether. her name was Ann Wright (i'm named after her) and she was born in the 19th century, and was 101 when she died. (as of around an hour ago, i'm 59 years younger than that milestone).

After quite a few years of searching for them after the museum where they were housed was destroyed in the 2011 earthquake, I've recently come into possession of copies of Ann's oral histories, taped in the 1980s, which detail fragments of the everyday life of the small town of Kaiapoi, located just outside Christchurch, in the early 20th century, among static hiss, noise, and the lapses of memory. Ultimately I am hoping to use these taped gaps, erasures and traces as the basis of a composition which can be channeled back to radio, transmitted via the active collaboration of the brooch and the ring she wore at the time, and which currently remain mute witnesses of those histories.

My mother gave me the two pieces of Ann's marcasite jewellery I am using in this experiment, as a graduation present. I wear the brooch in the same place I sometimes clip radio cegeste's transmitter aerial when performing. I hope neither of them are too offended by me re-purposing such exquisite heirlooms (taonga) to channel aetheric-material ghosts, while also thinking back toward the work of this country's female radio pioneers in the first decades of the 20th century

That history, itself like a faint, crackling signal in the midst of static rain, could also do with more elaboration - likewise, a lot more work is also needed here, but it's a promising start, and an excellent way to celebrate the first few hours of being fairly old now, myself...

27 Nov 2015

critical writing by Susan Ballard in 'Risk' issue of Reading Room: a Journal of Art & Culture

issue 7 of the Auckland art Gallery's research publication Reading Room: a Journal of Art & Culture, with the theme of 'Risk' features Susan Ballard's paper Signal Eight Times: Nature, Catastrophic Extinction Events and Contemporary Art

since (at least) 2014 Su has been writing in erudite and localised manner about Australian and New Zealand artists who take the extinction of nonhuman creatures as a theme. An early version of the paper, which she presented at the conference Affective Habitus: New Environmental Histories of Botany, Zoology and Emotions, was called More than the simple defence of nature: Artists confront extinction. In her blog, Su writes of this paper that "the title comes from a passage in Guattari’s Three Ecologies where he highlights how humans are part of nature, they are ‘in’ nature, so cannot defend it. He says more needs to be done if we are to survive IWC (Integrated World Capitalism). I talk about some NZ and AU artists who have been thinking about NZ bird extinctions, and suggest that they are already doing ‘more’. These art works are not a defence at all but a reenactment of environments." 

Within the wider scope of her discussion, Su weaves two of my projects into this latest version of the paper, pairing their focus on the sketchy musical notations of colonial-era pakeha contact with vanished birds still extant in contemporary archives, and the silence which remains in the present of museums, with other artists and works. She writes: "I argue that in staging small moments of encounter, which remind us that our experience of the environment is intimately tied to the survival of ideas, contemporary works of art can help us think about extinction anew."

Su's essay can be read and downloaded in full at this link

25 Nov 2015

tidelines for water street

a site-specific installation of a durational score created for the independent artist-run exhibition in a blessed parenthesis, in a vacuum full of promise, located in a warehouse at 57 crawford street (cnr. jetty street, above dutybound bookbinders), central Dunedin, NZ, November 2015. included a performance event and artist talk in which the score was activated (as "hundreds of simultaneous shorelines"). premiere performers were Motoko Kikkawa (violin), Campbell Walker (shortwave radio), and myself (mini FM transmitter, receivers, zither.)
--- x ---

title: tidelines for water street 
date: 24 Nov – 1 Dec 2015
time: various
notes: a sound score is constructed from a Dunedin street, using the location. In its initial stages, this score is a textual response to the idea of “land reclamation” and the fact that this street is on a part of the earth that was, until recently, underwater. It progresses further into the investigation of tidelines from various eras between the 1840s and 1890s, which inched forward from the place used as a landing site by Maori who were embarking on mahinga kai expeditions at the time of colonial settlement, which under the name Toitu Tauraka Waka became the first site in the South Island, and second nationally, recently recognised as a wahi tupuna (an important place of Maori ancestral significance).

The tauraka waka site was gradually swallowed by building and foreshore reclamation as the settlers threw more and more stuff into the harbour, including whole inconvenient parts of the landscape and later, the built environment; both were treated as raw material for what we might identify as, geologically speaking, an anthropocenic armature, a conglomerate “archaeological” landmass that everyone could contribute to: geological cross sections might reveal not just monumental or ‘natural’ things but strata of broken tea cups, glass bottles, and garden wastage. 

25 Oct 2015

Edison Ledges (diagram for twelve archival silences)

"even as strange geographies corrugate, fracture and smear worldly scale and tempo, the ground isn’t somehow evaporated into virtual information flux, but, quite to contrary, we are brought to the end of the non-place, to a point where place can be and must be re-established anew as an accountable habitat in the renewed image of these very same deformations." 

- Benjamin Bratton, 'On the Nomos of the Cloud: The Stack, Deep Address, Integral Geography'.

the short study Edison ledges (diagram for twelve archival silences), re-purposed various archival sound recordings, in this case, commercially released Edison wax cylinders c.1890-1920 catalogued within the 500+ cylinders that form part of the collections of a small Hobart-based museum dedicated to sound technologies, the Sound Preservation Association of Tasmania (S.P.A.T). The cylinders were recorded, and the music subsequently removed, leaving only the precursory audio, and the final run-out grooves. Inverting the kinds of editing processes used, for example, in digital archival sound preservation, in which an editor would normally edit out these audible silences and use noise reduction software to progressively remove the grain media to reveal the music, here, the grain, the noise and the silence are all that remain of the technical, epistemological and economic act of late 19th century audio recording. 

21 Oct 2015

two days at SARU, Oxford.

visiting the kind and very welcoming folks at SARU (Sonic Arts Research Unit) at Oxford Brookes University over the period of 19th-20th October, I had to fight my cultural romanticism pretty hard - unlike the Southern pragmatics of my own university town, there were bicycles everywhere and everyone seemed to look like Morrissey, and I was rather beguiled, despite the discussions among my colleagues that the city was now so expensive, one could not afford to live there on an adjunct salary, even if one was teaching locally. after a morning at a local B&B, where over luke-warm filter coffee I watched great burly working class men from Scunthorpe crying on morning TV at the announcement that one of the last bastions of British Steel was cutting 1,200 jobs, I gave an artist talk and took five one-on-one half hour tutorials with students in the Masters' programme, many of whom were doing thoughtful and clever projects, and the time flew by in some lively and stimulating discussions.

The SARU programme is also an affiliate partner and former home of the Consumer Waste label, whose co-curator Samuel Rodgers was also one of the fine folks concurrently in Oxford whose hospitality made my stay so great. Needless to say, the opportunity to play in a spare room at the school with Sam was eagerly embraced by yours truly.

18 Oct 2015

'Andrei Tarkovsky: Another Kind of Language', 3CD re-release on and/Oar.

Released just months before the 20th anniversary of the filmmaker's death, the quiet emergence of the re-release of the Tarkovsky tribute initially put together by Dale Lloyd's Seattle based label and/Oar in 2003, was aptly timed. Like a small expanded cinema exercise in itself, this package included a 20 page booklet and 3 CDs, two including compositions from the original release, and the last with contributions from seven new artists. I contributed a new track, 'for shoring up the past, as though with timber', and wrote an impressionistic essay for the liner notes, called 'there is only here and now, and light'. Full info on the release (where there are still copies left, at the time of writing) is available at and/Oar. Thanks so much to Dale Lloyd for his work and faith.  

5 Feb 2015

Collected Huia Notations (like shells on the shore when the sea of living memory has receded)

Collected Huia Notations (like shells on the shore when the sea of living memory has receded) is a work for phonograph, solo piano, and extinct bird. It collates the four known Western musical notations of the song of the Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris), an endemic New Zealand wattlebird of the ancient family Callaeidae, which was driven to extinction in the last decades of the Nineteenth Century, partially through the attentions of overzealous wealthy Victorian Ornithologists and Museum collectors.

10 Jan 2015

notes toward a library of superlative trees. a transmission for Eucalyptus regnans

notes toward a library of superlative trees. a transmission for Eucalyptus regnans was one of two works exhibited as part of a listening air. / They are that that talks of going at Constance ARI, Hobart, Tasmania, which opened on 10th January 2015, alongside works by Matt Warren and Alex Bishop-Thorpe. It was part of the offsite programme for the sound festival Mona Foma.  

the work is a mini-FM radio programme which conducts radio art as a form of fieldwork. It investigates the notion of non-human memory through engagement with the sounds of the tallest flowering plant in the world, a tree native to Tasmania and Victoria, but now found worldwide. 
Orokonui eco-sanctuary in Dunedin, New Zealand, is a biosecure reserve for rare New Zealand birds. It also contains “New Zealand’s tallest tree”, a Eucalyptus regnans and an introduced Australian, planted in the 1870s as part of a farmland boundary line. 

3 Dec 2014

a one minute radio silence for Sceloglaux albifacies

recordings of the silences of mounted specimens of the extinct New Zealand bird Sceloglaux albifacies (the Whekau, or Laughing Owl) are collected from public Natural History museums, via the paranormal investigation method of EVP (electronic voice phenomenon), which is associated with the use of radio and sound recording as a means to contact the dead. the silences are layered into a one minute transmission, collated on the centenary of the officially recognized extinction of the species.

a blank time-capsule, “a one minute radio silence for Sceloglaux albifacies” investigates cultural notions of death and memorialisation in relation to the stability of recording mechanisms, the ‘eternal stasis’ of the archive as storage, linking this to early colonial collecting practices: the predatory accumulating of rare birds which rationalised sacrificing the living animal in favour of the ‘immortality’ of the museum specimen. despite a few dozen of its corpses being collected in such a way, along with a scant number of known photographs, some drawings and written accounts, the living Whekau’s cry was not recorded. accordingly, this project aims neither to represent, nor to ‘speak for’ the bird in human terms, in favour of giving space to its absence, listening in to the one hundred year lack of any signal between 1914-2014.

[image: juvenile Sceloglaux albifacies photographed at its nest in a cavity under a limestone boulder by Cuthbert and Oliver Parr. c.1909, Raincliff Station, Opihi River, South Canterbury, New Zealand. This is the only image of this bird ever taken in the wild.]

23 Jul 2014

the worlds within a film: revisiting Nigel Bunn's photography for 'Notes for a Coastline'

notes for a coastline was a 2003 film directed by Zoe Roland, for which I wrote an essayistic, poetic monologue, which was used as the basis of the voiceover which sonically "anchored" the non-narrative drift of the film.

the Dunedin Film Society asked to screen the film in their 2014 programme, on the 23rd of July, as a local example of artist-filmmaking and a short before Shirley Horrocks' documentary on the senior New Zealand photographer Marti Friedlander, Marti: The Passionate Eye

the film was finally digitised for the screening, and in dragging frames out of it I was newly struck by all the small worlds that are buried inside it, which emerged with their own beauty and texture.

these images are all sourced from the exquisite 16mm camerawork Nigel Bunn shot for the film, only one of its media. as individual frames rendered into digital stasis, they paradoxically whisper of the fluid materiality of celluloid. apart from the myriad filmic references one could mention, some of the shots remind me of Vija Celmins' drawings, and some look like early photography by Henry Fox Talbot, and some have the mystery of a box of photographs or glass magic lantern slides newly discovered in the dusty corner of an old antique store, their out-of-sequence timeline revealing a new "treasure map" buried in their relation.

it seems appropriate that they are re-shufflable in this new way as a series of found photographs, as the last line I wrote in the script was "and there is no real ending to this process, as the walking continues after the viewing is finished. as listening continues...".

16 Jul 2014

"at home" a collaboration by radio cegeste & moth

“We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.”
― Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
under the moth moniker, Jon Dale's occasional sonic missives have been collectively described by one commentator as an "incredibly haunting, rich dronescape." certainly, Jon is pretty much an honorary New Zealander when it comes to evoking the kinds of beautiful isolationism one might normally associate with an everyday familiarity with South Island landscapes, and one of the most assiduous and eloquent writers on that particular experimental idiom to be found anywhere.

staying for a week in Jon's apartment in Brunswick, Melbourne c.2011, resulted in this. we called it "at home" because that's where it was recorded.

9 Jul 2014

McIntyre/Stern in performance at Make It Up Club's 16th Birthday Celebrations, Melbourne, 14.01.2014

I was rather chuffed to find that guerrilla archivist Weirdo with a Dictaphone had recently bootlegged a recording of the duo performance I did with Joel Stern at Make It Up Club's 16th anniversary celebrations in mid-January, alongside this appropriately noisy photo (in which I'm pretty much completely invisible, located to the right behind the glowing apple), alongside a reminder of master-of-ceremonies Lloyd Honeybrook's ever-loquacious intro to the Stern/Cegeste debut: “New Zealander radio artist Sally McIntyre casts her receiver out into the imperceptibly omnipotent abyss of frequencies surrounding us, variously drawing in and transmitting out EVP of extinct birds, the void of defunct gallery spaces and the like, ably matched by the nihilistically nonentitative nullcore isms of Joel Stern. | Sally McIntyre [NZ] (FM transmitter & receivers, turntable, field recordings, bat detector & shortwave valve radio) & Joel Stern (Bits and Pieces of Nothing)” as well as the somewhat startling comment: "An amazing, mystifying performance. Possibly one of the best MIUC shows I’ve ever seen."

This gig was a unique one and a great memory for many reasons; Joel's playful interventions marked the first time i'd ever experimented with another live input signal going direct through my transmitter, at the same time as my own. The resulting homage to the misuse of the archive, theremins, morse code, a shared passion for the collecting of weirdo Library Music, Canary Training and Bird Identification records, and similar ephemera, can now be download for free via the link above, or directly from here, for your listening pleasure. Considering my own zoom recorder failed to perform on the night, it's really great to be able to hear it...

5 Jul 2014

a memorial silence for Sceloglaux albifacies, on the centenary of its extinction.

On the 5th July 2014, I headed into Canterbury Museum to record the mounted specimen of the Laughing Owl/Whekau (Sceloglaux albifacies) to be found, grouped humbly under the designation "forest birds", with various other New Zealand endemic species both extinct and still hanging on, in the Museum's extensive, old fashioned 'bird hall'. A sonic still life which was quietly significant, this 10 minute recording occurred on the 100th anniversary of the day (05.07.1914) the last officially acknowledged member of this species was found dead by the side of the road at Blue Cliffs station, not far from here in South Canterbury, by an 18 year old girl named Airini Woodhouse.

It seemed appropriate to commemorate this small, bleak anniversary, not mentioned in the New Zealand public media (unlike the 100th anniversary of the First World War, which has diverted much arts funding towards various memorial projects this year), with a private mourning ritual, a memorial silence which mirrors the silence of the bird itself, from Airini's sad discovery in 1914 onward, despite the rich prior textuality of description which attends this bird's voice, the eerie "doleful shrieks" and startling, unsettling, mad night forest laughter documented so frequently in the late 1800s, when the Whekau was still found in South Island forest and plain. This took the form of recorded listening as a form of meditation, an inhabitation of a listening space, rather than merely a form of archiving, mixed in with a paranormal ritual investigation, via the practice of Electronic Voice Phenomenon - a nod to radio's long association with attempts to contact the dead.

3 Jul 2014

three inclements (the ocean does not mean to be listened to)

the wonderful experimental music imprint Consumer Waste records has been kind enough to release (29.06.14) a set of three short pieces (as CW13) whose various component sounds I recorded while NZ Dept. of Conservation / Creative New Zealand artist in residence on Kapiti Island in May 2012, and finished editing on headphones in the unlikely sound-studio of Fendalton Community Library, located just down the street from my parents' house in Christchurch, very soon after returning from the residency that June. It's a wonderfully anonymous, hands-off public space, where i'm unlikely to be interrupted by anyone I know. Almost two years to the day, I am again sitting in the same place in Fendalton Community Library typing this, listening to the recordings and looking at various historic photographs which have, for me, become attached to this set of sounds. A return, of sorts.

Upon re-listening, the release - now called "three inclements (the ocean does not mean to be listened to)" after quite a few other working titles (the language, unlike the pieces, wasn't instantaneously obvious) - seems jagged, its vignettes reflecting its topographical variety of sonic spaces and collecting methods, a rocky and uneven terrain alive with the rawness of the island's own life. For a sonic document made on an island bird sanctuary, there are very few birds to be heard, apart from those incidentally in the background of some of the location recordings. This CD is not a literal representation of birds (other projects from the residency focusing on birds can be found elsewhere on this site), but a listening-in to the wider context of the island, its histories, its politics, and its absences. As part of the residency's wider focus on radio as fieldwork, this project gathers three "field tunings" into the frequency spectrum, which were all recorded on one day - the 9th May, 2012, around the area of Waiorua Bay. The receiver - a retired Maritime multiband radio - was cast as a listening ear within fields and shorelines, and its tunings layered with sounds also recorded in the same locales with various kinds of microphones. 

31 Mar 2014

some reflections on the dead space of storage media, and its relation to a bird which evaded solidity in classification for 150 years

moving into an object-based output for radio cegeste's dissipative ephemeralities was initially only driven by finding productive frisson in collaboration with improvisational musicians who release most things they do on their own record labels (here's looking at you, Lee Noyes). I couldn't really say no, and i'm glad I didn't. Since then, and despite ongoing trepidations around solidifying fleeting aetheric mobiles into repeat-listening structures in storage media, I'm telling myself i'm using such formats strategically.

I'm rather fond of the almost unplayable format of the mini CD, which is obsolete in a more recent - and invisible - way than most of the sonic objects i've tended to be interested in, the early 20th century forms whose temporal distances speak 'materiality' to a digital age in more obviously 'antique' manner. This dainty wafer of digital inscription is however an entirely appropriate format for radio cegeste's first solo release to have been caught on; the New Zealand Storm Petrel EP, released on Kate Carr's label Flaming Pines late last year, is a fleeting, crackly thing, just less than 20 minutes long. I was specifically interested in Kate's Birds of a Feather series for this label, based on birds in music, for its potential to extend my radio work around the immediacy of radio-and-bird communicability (see Kokako Variations, and other recent transmission works) into the 'dead space' of storage media. (I've been using storage media in combination with transmission for a little while, but often though their appearance as chunks of stored time in live performance.) 

The New Zealand Storm Petrel was a perfect focus for this investigation, being notable for its flight from taxonomy, a re-appearance which is only Lazarus-like for the classificatory mechanisms of human language (presumably, the bird knew where it was, all along). A bird like a book returned to the library of babel after more than a human lifetime, to assuage the spectres of colonial guilt. To replace its ghost shelved in some dusty corner, with all the other stuffed specimens.

15 Mar 2014

patterns / recognitions, collaboration with campbell walker at refining light

Extending radio cegeste's recent live cinema collaboration with Campbell Walker at Auckland's RM Gallery,  anxious repetitive smiling (nothing's going to happen), toward a formal Dunedin iteration couldn't have found a better context than Refining Light, an event nestled within the 2014 Dunedin Fringe Festival. 

This gathering of (un)like minds was co-curated by Campbell and improvisational guitarist and local experimental audio scene organiser Peter Porteous (Lines of Flight, Alt Music), and ostensibly took the secondary medium in experimental music-and-film festival Lines of Flight, (begun by Peter Stapleton and Kim Pieters in the year 2000, long a biannual part of the Dunedin Fringe and an established part of the NZ audio cultural landscape  - my & Gilbert May's radio documentary on the 2009 festival for the Radia network can be heard here), and made it primary. It also built upon an event, a night of live audio-visual convergences, which Campbell and I co-curated in 2011 with the Melbourne experimental music space KIPL, which combined moving image with improvised scores by experimental musicians.

13 Feb 2014

anxious repetitive smiling (nothing’s going to happen)

on the 13th February, at the culmination of his early 2014 artist residency at RM Gallery in Auckland, I embarked upon an audio/visual performance collaboration with filmmaker and moving image artist Campbell Walker, called anxious repetitive smiling (nothing's going to happen), in which in-camera audio from his month long gathering of visual fragments in Auckland spaces was expanded within the screening as a transmission piece, a live improvisational score. Text from William Gaddis’ novel The Recognitions, spoken by Walker, was additionally harnessed within an autofictional depiction which literally reflected back in windows as a noir cityscape. The screening space in the gallery added additional light bleed and environmental screen space via its nightlit windows and analogous sonic structural openness.  

images by Matthew Ward

4 Feb 2014

various australian wanderings, early 2014

[performing at Undue Noise, curated by Jacques Soddell at the Old Fire Station in Bendigo, 1st February, 2014. image by Viv Corringham.]


radio cegeste Australian dates, January-February 2014:

@ The Now NOW Festival, Sydney
- two works in the Now NOW group show (with Kusum Normoyle, Kynan Tan, Sarah Hughes, Patrick Farmer, Emily Morandini, Jon Hunter) at SNO Gallery, 8/1/2014 - 12/1/2014 
- solo site-specific outdoor radio narrowcast in Sydney Park, 11//1/2014

@ Make it Up Club 16th birthday celebrations, Melbourne
- duo with Joel Stern, 14/1/2014

@ Soundout Festival, Canberra 
- group improvisation with Ross Manning / Viv Corringham / Evan Dorrian, 23/1/2014.
- outdoor site specific performance curated by Jim Denley at Lake Walter Burley Griffin with Jim Denley / Kim Myhr/ Rosalind Hall / Ross Manning / Evan Dorrian, 24/1/2014
- solo outdoor narrowcast in venue courtyard (with intro / segue from venue from Clayton Thomas & Cor Fuhler), 25/1/2014
- group improvisation with Maya Revillion / Viv Corringham / Reuben Lewis / Rhys Butler, 25/1/2014 
@ Sound Klub X, Hobart
- solo performance/transmission, 31/1/2014

@ Undue Noise, Bendigo
- solo performance/transmission, 1/2/2014

1 Jan 2014

Bioacoustics issue of 'Antennae: the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture'

issue 27 of Antennae: the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture is dedicated to the topic of Bioacoustics: "Shifting away from the historical epistemological prominence that sight and the visual have played in the forming of our understanding of the world, this issue proposes a human-animal aural turn."

Cecilia Novero has written a fairly lengthy critical essay about my work with birdsong and radio called Birds on Air: Sally Ann McIntyre's Radio Art. It incorporates a few interviews we did just after the Kapiti Island residency in 2012, and includes an in-depth critical discussion of the projects I did on the residency. The issue places this work in very appropriate, fascinating, and distinguished company. I am very grateful to Cecilia for her research and intelligent explorations!

20 Dec 2013

transmission for a lazarus taxon: radio cegeste's 'the new zealand storm petrel' out on flaming pines' 'birds of a feather' series

radio cegeste's homage to the New Zealand Storm Petrel was released as FLP025 alongside (and inversely twinned with) a composition for the Rainbow Lorikeet by Sydney based musician Seaworthy on December 20 2013 by small independent Australian label Flaming Pines as part of their limited run Birds of a Feather series of EPs, themed around the sounds of birds, and their role in music. As label head Kate Carr puts it "The role of birds as muse, as musical guide and inspiration has been well documented in classical music, from Mozart's pet starling to Beethoven's birdsong filled Pastoral Symphony and Sibelius's swan hymn to Messaien's birdsong compositions (...) always birds inspire us with their mastery of flight, their epic migrations, their tragic vulnerability and their against the odds tales of survival."

The New Zealand Storm Petrel (Oceanites maorianus), seemed an apt conceptual figure for such a project, with its recent dramatic re-discovery in 2003, after being declared extinct in the 1850s. The small black and white seabird is now included under that most miraculously evocative of categories in natural history, alongside the small number of other species which have been declared extinct only to appear again, often much later. In paleontological classification, such a creature is known as a 'Lazarus Taxon', and the various examples, including the Lord Howe Stick Insect, the Coelacanth, and New Zealand's other famed avian example, the Takahe, seem to slide a place holder, however marginally, into a collective imagination facing the global landslide to oblivion within the sixth wave of human-influenced extinction. In the case of the New Zealand Storm Petrel, the gap between disappearance and rediscovery was over 150 years. In New Zealand settler culture terms, that is roughly analogous to the official age of our nation, although humans have of course been on these islands, interacting in complex cultural ways with bird species, since the 1100s.

15 Nov 2013

critical writing by Dugal McKinnon on 'Huia Transcriptions' and 'Collected Silences for Lord Rothschild' in Leonardo Music Journal

issue 23 of Leonardo Music Journal, with the theme of 'Sound Art' features Dugal McKinnon's article Dead Silence: ecological silencing and environmentally-engaged sound-art. Dugal builds a critical model for a discussion of silence in engaged environmental audio works which utilises discussion of two of my recent pieces focusing on birdsong, vernacular memory, the archive and extinction, as well as some work by the British audio artist Katie Paterson.

25 Sep 2013

the unavailable memory of gold coin cafe / lee song & co.

When Wellington artist Kerry Ann Lee invited me to contribute to The Unavailable Memory of Gold Coin Cafe, a project she initiated around the site of the Yeung Sheng Restaurant, previously the Gold Coin Cafe, in Willis St.,Wellington, we'd already had quite a lively discourse around its themes.                                                               
Kerry Ann is a Wellington artist of NZ/Chinese descent, and for her, the Gold Coin Cafe was more than a fondly remembered local landmark of cheap late night eats, it was a place she grew up in, playing and doing her homework out the back of the Chinese restaurant and takeaway her parents ran as a family business throughout her childhood. Earmaked for demolition due to the new earthquake-strengthening laws post 2011, Kerry Ann was personally confronted with the prospect of the material erasure of the site of these memories.  

As curator Claudia Arozqueta wrote for the exhibition's publicity, "Kerry Ann Lee's installation The Unavailable Memory of Gold Coin Café (2013) investigates the story of 296 Willis Street, the site of the Gold Coin Café: her parent's takeaway and former family home in the 1980s. Her parents followed the tradition of her ancestors in that upon immigrating to New Zealand in the 1940s they helped set up some of the early Chinese restaurants in Wellington. As the building is currently earthquake-stickered and earmarked for destruction, Lee’s installation references her memories and actualities of the space, featuring visual and sonic details to explore the tensions of making a home in the margins. The project is an alternative micro-history of Cantonese migrant legacy and urban settlement in flux in Wellington City over the past 40 years."   

12 Sep 2013

'Nature Reserves', group exhibition at GV Art, London

Two works themed around erasure, the audible trace, extinction, colonial-era collecting, and silence, Huia Transcriptions and Collected Silences for Lord Rothschild were aptly included in a group exhibition, titled Nature Reserves, which ran at London art/science gallery space GV Art from the 26th july - 13th september.

10 Aug 2013

a transmission for Jean Painlevé

radio cegeste's live improvisation to the 1929 silent film La Daphnie by the French poet of science cinema, Jean Painlevé.

at Taste Merchants cafe, Dunedin, 10 August 2013.

images by Kim Pieters.
film projection by Campbell Walker.

2 Aug 2013

'if witness was an architect' by radio cegeste & lee noyes, released on idealstate no-number series

Recorded live at Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Dunedin New Zealand
17 January 2011
released 02 August 2013

performing in the light, white spaces of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery mezzanine auditorium with Lee Noyes in january 2011 solidified a productive collaboration that continued until Lee left Dunedin for Scandinavia in 2012. this is a recording of that initial performance, and its digital release on the 'no number' series Lee has been producing for his Idealstate Recordings label perfectly reflects its sparse, suspended minimalism.

a brief note on the title : 'if witness was an architect" - it is a line taken from a February 1888 newspaper report on the Seacliff Building Inquiry from the Otago Daily Times. This governmental inquiry into the 1887 collapse of the buildings at Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, near Dunedin, eventually held the architect, Robert Arthur Lawson, responsible for structural defects. At the time of the recording of "if witness was an architect" I was living in another of Lawson's grand Victorian buildings, the (very structurally intact) 1903 mansion Threave. the performance included, apart from mini FM radio transmission, various other forms of electromagnetism and related sonic elements, some field recordings i had gathered in the (now empty field) of the former Seacliff Asylum.

26 Jul 2013

collected silences for lord rothschild

Collected Silences for Lord Rothschild comprises five recordings of extinct bird silences collected from The Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, via the paranormal research technique of E.V.P (electronic voice phenomenon).

this work expands on Collected Silences for Lord Rothschild, a radio cegeste transmission staged on Kapiti Island in May 2012, in which two of the above recorded silences (Huia, Laughing Owl) were transmitted via Mini FM into the environmental reserve, which was itself created, in a pioneering gesture of governmental recognition of human responsibility for loss of biodiversity, around the time of the extinction of the species in question, but nevertheless did not receive the live specimens destined for it.

one of two works included as part of the exhibition Nature Reserves, at the London gallery GV Art from the 26 July - 14 September, 2013.

huia transcriptions

alongside audio documentation of the site-specific live sound work Huia Transcriptions originally conducted on two mornings on Kapiti Island in early June 2012, an object-based realisation of the work, comprising musical notation of one early twentieth century human interpretation of a Huia warning call, as well as a written description of the same call rendered in the manner of the lyrical content on a player-piano roll, were set on archival index cards. a small mass produced music box renders the punched strip of the left hand side of the cards playable, in their limited fashion, emphasising the gap between human recording and reproducing mechanisms and the accessibility of the live bird song, now that the species is extinct.

included as part of the exhibition Nature Reserves, at the London gallery GV Art from the 26 July - 14 September 2013.

5 Apr 2013

'dead silence: ecological silencing and environmentally engaged sound art' : paper by Dugal McKinnon, at New Zealand School of Music, Wellington

Dr. Dugal McKinnon of the New Zealand School of Music gave this talk at the Adam Concert Room in Wellington today, about silence in ecologically minded sound work, in which he discussed two works I made during my Kapiti Island residency, Collected Silences for Lord Rothschild, and Huia Transcriptions.

More of Dugal's writing can be read on his blog here.

12 Mar 2013

The Crime LINKS in the Smoke

in response to Scott Flanagan's request for an artist book for his edition The Rose Collection, Campbell Walker created a bookwork called The Crime LINKS in the Smoke. It was made from pages of burnt books, sourced from the strewn debris of detective fiction covering the upper floor of the Dunedin second hand bookstore Raven Books, where I once worked, and Campbell did for a while as well. 

6 Mar 2013

'selected radio memorials'

a suite of transmission works collected from the last few years' somewhat consistent low-level preoccupation with narrowcast radio and local seismic activity are to be included in Simulcast, a group exhibition of radio works running at the Audio Foundation's Auckland space from the 7th - 30th of March, also including work by Auckland artists Ivan Masic and Jay Hollows, and a 'radio wormhole' linking Auckland to central Christchurch, a sonic transfer of the everydayness of each locale opened up for the month's duration by Zita Joyce.

15 Sep 2012

'after bexley' in f&ss performance series, The Physics Room, Christchurch

the audio recordings comprising After Bexley were captured by Reuben Derrick and Sally Ann McIntyre on two field trips into Bexley on 11.9.2012 and 13.9.2012, and re-sited within a small-radius programme transmitted at the Physics Room’s gallery spaces within the same week, on 15.9.2012. They can be seen as a response to the idea of silence, itself co-opted as memorial a mere week after the earthquake event of 12.51pm, 22.2.2011. As Prime Minister John Key put it at the time, “two minutes as a sign of unity for the people of Canterbury who are enduring a tragedy beyond what most of us can imagine." (The New Zealand Herald, 27/2/2011) 

25 Aug 2012

'language des oiseaux' double Radia feature on Datscha-Radio, Berlin

the Berlin radio project Datscha-Radio (wonderfully taglined "a garden in the air") was a temporary micro-broadcasting station set up on the grounds of the garden community “Einigkeit”(“Unity”) in Berlin-Pankow, which broadcast for 7 days, 24 hours from the 24th - 31st August 2012. In a programme on the 25th August called Language des Oiseaux, a show I had made for the radia network while artist in residence on bird sanctuary Kapiti Island, Radio d'Oiseaux (Kokako Variations) was re-broadcast as a double feature alongside what was one of my personal favourite radia shows of the previous (or indeed any) year, Wolfgang Müller's exquisite Starlings from Hjertøya sing Kurt Schwitters, originally played around the network in February 2011. 

13 Jul 2012

'the transit of venus, study for shortwave #1' included in Air / Ear: Radio & Nature, Argentina

"Air / Ear" was a transmitted installation of the work of 37 radio and sound artists into a cultural hall of a small town, San Justo, Santa Fe, in rural Argentina. The project was curated by Ruben Marino Tolosa.

the work I contributed, 'the transit of venus (study for shortwave 1)', was recorded in a blustery field on a miserable day on kapiti island, and it was played into the space on the 13th July 2012.

30 Jun 2012

'construction (for tide and phyllonites)' collaboration with johnny chang, in Radia LX 2012 festival, Lisbon

included as part of the Radia LX 2012 festival in Lisbon, which runs from june 27-30, is a collaborative piece i made with Berlin based artist johnny chang called 'construction (for tide and phyllonites)', exploring locality and distance in transmission, in which i transmitted sounds johnny recorded in berlin to a flock of small radios distributed on a wild and rocky beach at rangatira, kapiti island. the piece is scheduled to be broadcast in Lisbon and via the www on saturday 30 june, 7.30am. more about the piece can be found on the kapiti project site here

13 May 2012

'gull lines, at a slope of conduction (for waiorua shoreline, violin and shortwave)' in TIK festival of ecological media arts, Brussels

gull lines, at a slope of conduction (for waiorua shoreline, violin and shortwave) was recorded during early May on Kapiti, as a contribution to the Time Inventors Kabinet (TIK) festival of ecological media arts (11 - 13 May 2012) in Brussels. It emerges from my current research into the area of Kapiti Island, supported by Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

Both as a contribution to this festival and within the wider parameters of my current project, the piece extends the sounds of a remote place to listeners in the heart of an urban sphere across the other side of the world, taking as part-provocation R. Murray Schafer and Bruce Davis's concept for a 'wilderness radio' : “the plan was to put microphones in remote locations uninhabited by humans and to broadcast whatever might be happening out there; the sounds of wind and rain, the cries of birds and animals – all the uneventful events of the natural soundscape transmitted without editing into the hearts of the cities. It seemed to us that since man has been pumping his affairs into the natural soundscape, a little natural wisdom might be a useful antidote”. (R Murray Schafer, 'Radical Radio' in 'Sound by Artists', ed. D. Lander & M. Lexier, 1990)

(It should of course be pointed out that Kapiti is in fact inhabited, albeit sparsely, as many such places are).