BALTIMORE 2010More photos at Flickr
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Atari Punk Consoles are simple noise generators that are easy to customize by swapping out parts. MEGAPOLIS attendees learned how to make these sweet sweet noise makers in 30-60 minutes, just like this here.
Participants learned how to wire up their very own contact mic and discuss various methods of using it. Also discussed: the history of piezoelectric materials and how to use these fascinating tools.
In this era of unprecedented media conglomeration, it has become important for the public to take media into their own hands. This workshop took on a do-it-yourself approach to broadcast media. Participants constructed their own low-power FM radio transmitters and learned about the issues of legality surrounding micro-power broadcasting as well as artistic/activist uses of the medium.
Bonnie Jones (Baltimore) and Suzanne Thorpe (NYC) guided a workshop designed to expand listening and musical interactions. Jones and Thorpe guided attendants in listening expansion exercises based on Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening technique, followed by a soundwalk that enhanced their sonic relationship with their environment. During the walk, listeners evolved into players, creating a composition with their environment and themselves.
REMIX Radio from PRX and the Third Coast International Audio Festival presented a REMIX/ShortDoc challenge. The band The Books have selected eight sample sounds from their library of musical bits for us to remix into a minute-long composition in 30 minutes. Unlike the general Third Coast challenge (in which producers are required to select only two sounds to work with) the MEGAPOLIS Book Odds REMIXers used all eight sounds (and any other sounds they wished) and pulled it all together in 30 minutes or less.
Workshop introduction by Roman Mars:
“Hey Dude” by Benjamen Walker and Kara Oehler:
A Book Odds Remix by Brendan Baker:
Zach The Undertaker by David Levin:
A Book Odds Remix by Dennis Conrow and Shawn Wen:
A Book Odds Remix by Hethre Contant:
Laughing Gulls by Amanda Thieroff and Andrew Weeks:
A Book Odds Remix by Pat McNamee King and Teague Lyons:
A Book Odds Remix by Tom Niemisto:
We all have important places in our pasts. When we remember them, we remember part of who we used to be. Those places become touchstones for understanding how we became the people we are today. But what happens when those places disappear? At this year’s MEGAPOLIS, Shea Shackelford, Jennifer Deer, and Jesse Dukes of Big Shed threw a 90-minute storytelling hoedown exploring these very questions.
A short excerpt from the second part of the workshop:
Do you have any dead puppies lying around? No, not stinking rotten canine corpses, but those little pieces of audio that you love but haven’t used? For this MEGAPOLIS workshop, Jesse Dukes and Dennis Conrow helped participants to resurrect these cute lumps in a surrealist constrained creativity experiment based on the exquisite corpse.
The Final Frankenpuppies:
During the workshop, Patrick distributed copies of the open-source graphical programming environment Puredata. After discussing different aspects of sound and how to create your own unique sounds, the group plugged into a mixer and and had a free-form aural exploration/jam session.
You can download the tutorial patch Patrick used for his workshop here.
The MEGAPOLIS patch requires a download of pd-extended (in 2010 v0.41.4) in order to run correctly.
Some sound clips made at the festival:
A musical knitting circle. Hardcore Knitters and non-knitters alike joined together to play/knit on a souped-up, amplified knitting instrument. The Apparatus for Orchestral Knitting amplifies the sound of the knitting, and is then mixed and played back live.
What’s the worst nightmare you’ve ever had? What made it so nightmarish? How did you feel in the midst of this nightmare? How did you feel when you woke up? And what do you think might have caused the nightmare? Those questions and more were posed and answered in this collective on-site audio installation called Nightmare Scenario.
The Completed Feature, created and debuted at MEGAPOLIS:
The Olympics of MEGAPOLIS! Participants drew a random work of art by Nick Dewer from a deck, and then were sent out onto the streets of Baltimore and tasked with creating an original story with the help of at least 1 stranger. The final products are damn impressive.
“True Womanhood” by Amber Cortez:
“Sleep Mode” by Greg Mailloux (video):
Vocal Transformer is a project which explores atypical solutions to circuit bending. Instead of relying on switches and RCA cables to make bends, connections are made by banks of reed switches, which respond to magnets.
Mixing on a computer is usually a solitary endeavor: one person controlling one mouse and keyboard making one decision at a time. Brendan Baker’s trying to fix that. Part workshop and part experiment in “crowd-sourced” audio art, wikimixing is like editing Wikipedia but with sound instead of text. Visit drivebyhighfive.net/wikimixing for more information.
Wikimixing Samples, Mixed Live at MEGAPOLIS:
Choreographers, musicians, and artists are respond “in the round” to the unique features and acoustics of the 110 year-old church located in Baltimore’s Charles Village. The dancers worked with live video cameras and projection, body extensions, light environments, and extended techniques in modern and tap movements. The musicians employed architectural elements within the church, extended vocal techniques, laptops, wine glasses, saxophone, ebow guitar, wavetable synthesis, zither, bowed percussion, toys, a voice actor, and inventions.
ABATTOIR is a duo collaboration between Baltimore local musician Audrey Chen (cello/voice) and Robert Van Heumen (live sampling/electronics) from Amsterdam, NL. Rooted in free improvisation and experimental electronics, ABATTOIR performs music where Chen’s intense vocals and intricate cello playing are sampled, transformed and ripped apart by Van Heumen’s vigorous laptop actions. Together, they are able to create a deeply sensitive communication infused with a boundless feeling of release and letting go.
Listen to the full set:
A collaborative performance with Conrad producing the visuals while Hayleck creates a live audio soundtrack.
Arrington de Dionyso’s Malaikat dan Singa creates throbbing, hallucinogenic trance-punk energy music using rock and roll cliches subverted by the kaleidescope of Tuvan throatsinging and bass clarinet. Oh, did we mention all of the lyrics are in Bahasa Indonesia using translations from William Blake and the Zohar? This festival closer was a dance party in the realm of magic!
Jones presented a solo multidisciplinary piece that utilizes texts (found and written by the artist) and electronic sounds. The work takes a look at that space where humans encounter technology encountering humans and presents new ideas on how to “read” and “listen” to the shifting slipstream and landscape of our contemporary environment.
Listen to the full set:
“You have just walked down this river in parable. In doing so you have defeated me.”
“No, the river was in parable, but I have defeated you in fact.”
“The river is in fact. Your saying so is the greater parable.”
Baltimore’s super-group Geodesic Gnome (lead by philosopher/musician John Berndt) specializes in just three well-defined areas: 1. paradoxes as compositions, 2. “Gnomic utterances” and deliberate obscurity as content, and 3. the recreation of poorly understood historic incidents. Entirely out of the compartments of music, theatre, naturalism, and product focus groups, Geodesic Gnome are marco to your micro and micro to your macro. In “Daishadokyo” they combine all of their interests with Zen Archery and an obscure walk down the Jones Falls River to parse out a new kind of logic. With the amazing talents of Peter Blasser, Sarah El Jallad, John Eaton, Stephanie Barber, Mike Muniak and John Berndt.
Photo credit: What Weekly
Photo credit: What Weekly
Photo credit: What Weekly
Photo credit: What Weekly
Photo credit: What Weekly
Benjamin Miller’s Degeneration is an intuitive approach to creating a quasi-dimensional sound field features a deconstructed electric guitar modified with multiple pickups. First used in the Michigan art band GKW in 1982 and then with Chicago’s Dirty Old Man River in the mid-90’s, Miller (brother of Mission of Burma’s Roger Miller) focuses on a textural, cacophonic amalgamation that defies standard guitar playing. With the addition of electronics and analog tape, it is difficult to discern where any one sound originates or where it is heading. “If new expressionists closed their eyes and painted what they saw then Ben Miller must be taping shut his ears and playing what he hears: blood thrashing through arteries, nerves popping, synapses burning,.. Formerly a part of the ‘anti-rock band’ Destroy All Monsters, Miller takes the ‘anti’ idea a step further.” — Detroit Metro Times
Using a combination of turntables and digital sampling along with acoustic instruments such as melodica and Spanish guitar, DJ Dubble8 remixed archival audio from his family history with newly composed layers. An inter-generational work was created in homage to the life story and songs of his grandfather, Dale Spangler.
DJ Trent brought home the (first-wave) party with a DJ set on Saturday night at the Windup Space in Baltimore, as he made quite sure that the asses hit the flo.
Hailed by their critics as “fiercely intrepid improvisers” with “…fingers stuck in a high-voltage outlet”, guitarist Hans Tammen and video artist Adam Rokhsar joined forces on a journey through the land of unending sonic operations and aggressive video hallucinations.
In this hybrid performance/installation, the audience determined the course of the sound generation, modifying and participating in its progress from nothingness to cacophony. Sounds created by the audience were recorded onto endless cassettes during the performance, gently mixed and built upon throughout the event.
Felix arrived from Germany to present MEGAPOLIS with a Hörspiel featuring excerpts of the radio play “Paralektronoia”, which explores the relationship between electricity and paranormality and its traces on the biographies of numerous pioneers of electronics. Russian Lev Sergeiewitch Termen, for example, invented not only the theremin but also a notorious wiretap for the KGB, while eccentric British music producer Joe Meek at times locked himself in his studio, armed, so the production of his sound effects might remain a secret. Kubin’s version, called “Paralektroniker”, is an active, mental radio with over-sensitive antennae; by means of systematic field research and radio-phonic experiments he investigates the impact of invisible vibrations on the human mind.
Felix Kubin is one of electronic music’s most dynamic and versatile performers. A lovechild of the home recording era, his activities include futuristic pop, radio plays, electroacoustic music, and works for chamber orchestra. Kubin’s music is saturated with enthusiasm for disharmonic pop, industrial noise, and 20th-century avant-garde music. In the last 20 years, he has released a diverse array of albums and played over 70 electronic music festivals. He likes to move between high and low culture, clubs and concert halls, as his main concern is the shifting of contexts and expectations. Kubin was on the cover of the June 2010 issue of the Wire Magazine, an internationally recognized journal of modern music. (Mr. Kubin’s performance was sponsored by the Association for Independents in Radio; his travel was sponsored by the Goethe-Institut in Washington DC)
An excerpt from Paralektronoia performed live at the MEGAPOLIS Festival:
Herbert Eckardt is name of the monstrous freak of a collaboration between Danish saxophonist Louise D.E. Jensen and Italian drummer/percussionist Luca Marini (the group takes its name from both musicians’ little known middle names). Nonsense songs, super serious free improvisation, punk and other musical detritus are thrown together to create gaudy and fun messes in their performances. They have recently recorded their first album as a duo, tentatively titled “Frankenstein, I Love You,” due to be released in late 2010. As a special guest, they brought along Louise’s husband, bassist Tom Blancarte for their performance at MEGAPOLIS 2010.
An excerpt from their Saturday Night set:
Active since 2000 and based primarily in Los Angeles, “lucky dragons” means any recorded or performed or installed or packaged or shared or suggested or imagined pieces made by Luke Fischbeck, Sarah Rara, and/or any sometimes collaborators who claim the name (it also refers to a japanese fishing boat caught in the fallout of hydrogen bomb test at bikini atoll in the 1950’s). Fischbeck and Rara have presented interactive performances and installations in a wide variety of contexts–including MOCA Los Angeles, The Smell, Smithsonian’s Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Whitney Museum of American Art (as part of the 2008 Whitney Biennial), The Kitchen and PS1 in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, REDCAT and LACMA in Los Angeles, Frankfurt’s Schirn Kunsthalle, ICA London, ICA Philadelphia, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris — and now the MEGAPOLIS Festival.
Listen to their full set:
Matt Sterling has been making music for more than 10 years. He takes cues from a number of sources including the improvisational aspects of jazz, the DIY attitude of punk, and the soul-of-the-machine ethos of techno. Working almost entirely in synthesized sounds, he has developed a unique sound that can engage both the body and the mind at once. More recently he has taken that same strategy to the visual realm and has been developing video systems to compliment the musical aspect. The visual displays draw from abstract impressionist paintings, psychedelic light shows, and experimental videos, but utilize the computing power available to form a dynamic relationship with the music. Mr. Sterling hopes to create an environment that immerses the audience in a hypnotic experience.
Nebraska improvised music unit Seeded Plain performed pieces shaped by the possibilities suggested by the instruments they’ve built, graphic scores, and in response to collaborators. Founded in 2007 by Bryan Day and Jay Kreimer, Seeded Plain has performed throughout the Midwest US and Europe. Seeded Plain’s first release ‘Land Tracts’ was released in 2008 to positive critical reviews in North America, Europe and Japan. Their upcoming release ‘2’ will be available this year on Creative Sources. Seeded Plain is currently working with Nebraska playwright and director Robert Stewart on the soundtrack for his upcoming theatrical production ‘Inferno Terra Firma.’
Suzanne Thorpe is a composer and performer of electronic music who enjoys revealing peripheral consciousness, coexisting perspectives and concurrent realities via composition, performance and installation.
Listen to the full set:
The Shortwave Shindig was an overnight immersion in the wavering, crackly sonics of the shortwave radio spectrum. Every day we stride through a stew of signals: our bodies vibrating imperceptibly to a riot of ouds, harmoniums, raving preachers, propaganda, secret messages, electronic squawks, and beeps. We lack only the transistors and diodes to be able to decode them. With a phalanx of receivers and gossamer strands of antennae, the Shortwave Shindig invited listeners to decipher the distant and elusive sounds of the shortwave bands.
David Goren during “The Shortwave Shindig”:
Employing a variety of RF receivers; shortwave radios, police scanners, and the live feed from North Avenue: Noise. Sloan and Bradley produced a multi- textural carpet of undulating radio-phonic sound. Through the various layers emerge radio transmissions of live and fragmented voices, and of glitches and hisses from the Baltimore City Streets.
Vistas (Josh Nagle, and Owen Cartwright) drove to MEGAPOLIS in a rented car all the way from Camden, Maine to present their most recent works in electronic music, as well as selections from their debut album “mute” released earlier this year. Their performance was unique to the context of the space and the people listening. Many of the sounds are acoustic or found recordings, as well as software instrumentation. During performance they incorporated responsive visual projections made up of abstract imagery.
This piece consists of two sound installations, juxtaposing found sounds with abstractions of travel photographs. When traveling, most people take photographs and use them to communicate a sense of what the experience of being in that place might have been like. However, the acoustic environment – recorded via ‘phonographs’ – can provide a tremendous amount of the sense of place and feeling of a location in a different way than photographs. Here, musical soundscapes replace photographs. The first piece comes from sounds collected in Rajasthan, India – the basic rhythmic figure comes from a third class train. Other field recordings that make up the melodic and harmonic components of the song include rickshaw horns, Hindu chants, monkeys, and Muslim calls to prayer.
Installation excerpt – Rajasthan, India:
The second piece comes from the Indian Himalayas – the basic rhythmic figure is also a local train providing transportation. The minimal visual presence in the pieces intentionally provides only a suggestion of the place: shifting blurry and abstract images, initiating a subconscious suggestion of what the place may look like. The listener then must use the sonic environment to create a sense of place.
Installation excerpt – Indian Himalayas:
What would the world sound like if every time the question “How are you?” were asked, it was answered truthfully? ‘A Thousand Voices’ is a sound installation presented by Brown University’s Listening LabOratory radiophonic performance group. Inspired by artists who, in their desire and passion to create a “new world” during the revolutionary period in Russia (roughly 1918-1923), made buildings and public spaces speak to convey their messages to the public, the Listening LabOratory wanted to use sound art and technology to give individuals the opportunity to share their hopes, dreams, anxieties, and aspirations. At MEGAPOLIS, the voices of people from different places and of different ages answering the question “How are you, truthfully?” was transmitted through hundreds of piezo speakers using wooden poles as a medium for the sound. The installation used the guiding metaphors of “home” and “borders” to form a community of voices in a unique aural experience.
A recording of the piece with introductions by Jucan, Ngo, and Lester:
Frequent Mutilations is a performed installation that celebrates one of the longest running radio art programs in North America. Four reel to reel machines weave together a series of giant analog tape loops. Each loop is of a different duration and every few minutes one of the loops is brought down, and a new one is spliced live into the mix to create a slowly evolving, slightly random composition, much like the radio program that inspired it. For about 25 years CKMS FM a small campus radio station in Waterloo (just outside of Toronto) broadcast a weekly hour long radio art program called Frequent Mutilations that produced by a rotating cast of programmers. This installation is both a new incarnation or live version of the program, and a celebration of the 1000 plus hours of original radio art produced for the show.
A recording of the installation, with a brief introduction from Andrew O’Connor:
This sound experiment was about little sounds. Sounds that otherwise go unnoticed. Participants were presented with small natural sounds and then had the opportunity to reflect on what they heard. Their reflections were recorded and turned into a sound collage over the course of the festival.
The MEGAPOLIS installation Mutator is a work generated by the process of transferring a musical performance across boundaries of medium, time, and space. Initiated by a series of compositions for expanded woodwinds and electromechanical percussion, the installation crystallizes onto two tape loops which are broadcast on separate site-specific commercial FM radio stations. The percussion (bass drum, snare drum, and cymbals) is played by simple solenoid-driven mechanisms which are controlled by firmware algorithms. The mic’d and mixed down percussion generate rhythms and effects while reacting to input sources (audio signals, sensors, and triggers). A sculptural multitude of radios installed in the space continuously echo the aural impression of the performance while the drums play on. The drum machine listens to all three FM stations, reacting to the tape loops and the sound of its own making; slowly and organically evolving with in the installation soundscape.
A recording of the installation with a brief introduction by Ed Bear:
North Avenue: NOISE was sound art composition that used the windows of the Windup Space as a large tympanum, picking up the vibrations from the street and transmitting the sounds through a series of multiple FM transmitters and receivers, creating a feedback loop. Through each transmitter this low power radio piece rebroadcasted the signal to the next transmitter at 4 different frequencies over the FM dial. The final transmission was remixed into the original sound from the street windows creating a slightly off synch or “double image.” Periodically, beat frequencies emerged from the broadcast airs depending on the amplitude from the streets. The final transmission saturated the airwaves on the corner of North Avenue and Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland, with a checkerboard pattern.
All weekend long at MEGAPOLIS, participants didn’t even great a break from audio art while relieving themselves. In the ladies room of the Windup Space, one could hear reflections on memorable bathrooms, johns, toilets, outhouses, waterclosets, loooos and potties (and improvised locations) broadcast from above. Attendees (and whoever is reading this right now) were (are) encouraged to leave their own stories behind. Just pick up a phone, and call the Poopline – (888) 921-4224. Check out some of the collected Poop Memories at www.poopandmemory.org
“Pull My Ears” was an ongoing virtual installation that you experienced by sending a text message to a designated phone number. For the following days you would randomly receive text messages containing commands for interacting with the world and to think about the corresponding sounds that then manifest around you.
Symphonic Stitch is a listening parlor in which the participant is invited to experience the sonic rhythms of knitting both visually and aurally.
(See this installation in action during the Knitting Jam in this same festival)
The Republic of Nynex used genetic algorithms to generate collages from user-submitted audio and ratings. Music, ambient noise, and voices were split up and randomly rearranged. The results were presented to a physical audience and Internet listeners. Audience ratings ranked the compositions, the best of which are mated and mutated to produce a new generation. The project was seeded with musical donations from a number of artists, mostly Boston-based. To listen and rate online, people visited nynex.hydrogenproject.com or followed @nynexrepublic on Twitter.
Final Generation, bred at MEGAPOLIS:
Thunder wheels make the sounds of rolling thunder. First a bicycle wheel has its tire studded with 10 to 30 strong magnets. Then a drumhead gets a magnet sandwich mounted towards the center of its head. The wheel is mounted to the drum such that the wheel magnets repel the drumhead magnets as the wheel magnets spin past. The wheel is spun and it sounds like thunder. Five Thunder wheels of varied design were installed so that viewers can interact with the Thunder wheels and create sonic weather. (Made possible by generous generosity of Velocipede.)
The Thunder Wheels were then “activated” by the artist during a performance by an ensemble playing a number of homemade instruments by Feather:
This installation creates moments that are in transport and go between re-articulations and potentialities, an “abstract machine” of sorts, one that is unstable and contains a spatiotemporal duplicity. With the use of traditional African ceremonial drumming music and invented polyrhythm machines, Moore employed a technique that shifts layered polyrhythms into abstract polyrhythms that are biogrammatic in nature; a language of the body that brings external realities into the internal field. The installation consisted of polyrhythm machines that employ gear motors, actuators, contact microphones and battery controlled speed motor controllers.
The “Artist’s Guide to Useful Technology” is an ongoing project of workshops, performances, symposia, consultations, tutorials and problem-solving forums taught by Harvestworks staff at art and music centers in the US. These events, which are free and open to the public, give participants hands-on knowledge and instruction, and instructors tailor the event to the needs of the audience and thus students from all skill levels are encouraged to attend.
At this year’s festival, David explained how to take dangerously complicated, opaque stories and make them actually interesting, even exciting.
David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR’s multimedia project Planet Money. Since 1999 David has covered science’s discoveries and its darker side, including the Northeast blackout, the anthrax attacks and the collapse of the New Orleans levees. David has a Ph.D. in physics and has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. (Mr. Kestenbaum’s performance and wardrobe was sponsored by Transom.org)
Listen to the full presentation:
21st Century Composition
A brief overview of Miller’s unique all-interval method of composition inspired by Arnold Schoenberg’s 12-tone method, a technique that maintains intervallic hierarchy rather than pitch. After studying orchestral examples of Miller’s method the group co-composed a piece together, fleshed it out, and rehearsed it.
Graphic Score Improvisation Workshop
A discussion on musical interpretation of visual source material as well as pre-conceived structure, chance operations, hyper-awareness and deep-listening states of creative decision-making during “free improvisation”. Attendees created graphic scores dealing with modes of organization and learn how to record improvisations using the scores.
Listen to a recording of the rehearsal and workshop:
Scoring in a radio piece requires a deft touch. Great scoring can elevate a piece; bad scoring can ruin it. In this 90-minute session, producers Bruce Wallace and Lawrence Lanahan discussed the uses and misuses of music as a device for audio story-telling.
In Walker’s workshop, participants learned about the limits of truth, the investigative power of fiction, and how lies can make you a better reporter. He was joined by his from Chris from Washington DC who contributed to this episode of his WFMU show Too Much Information.
In this workshop, van der Kolk explored various phenomena from the fields of psychoacoustics, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience to better manipulate, inform, and abuse our listeners.
“Sounds of Grief” was an hour-long listening session and lecture on the subject of vocal reactions to grief. Lamentation and songs of memorial are central within histories of ritual, theater and literature and may be important in understanding the evolutionary origins of music but appear on the entertainment-al medium of sound recording infrequently. This presentation examines cross-cultural stylizations of vocal expressions in the wake of death on disc recordings from the period 1913-1978 and their relationships to ideas about the fundamental meanings of musical expression – privacy, empathy, community and the contagiousness of emotion through sound. The project itself is a response to the sudden and early deaths of two young musician friends and draws from research by musicologists including Gail Holst-Warhaft (notably her books Cue for Passion: Grief and Its Political Uses and Dangerous Voices: Women’s Laments and Greek Literature) and Elizabeth Tolbert (notably her study “Women Cry With Words: Symbolization of Affect in the Karelian Lament”).
At the beginning of the 21st Century, “The Cinema” existed as a standardized built platform for the distribution of multi-channel audio compositions. With the exception of the New York Metropolitan Opera (with its Live HD Saturday Broadcasts), music and audio art presenters are not making use of this standardized platform. This lecture by the curators of ((audience)) addressed those barriers and asked the question of “Why movie theaters?” with a counter-question “Why art galleries?” At MEGAPOLIS, the history of sound art in the gallery space was interwoven with a history of concert hall architecture and cinema sound, to bring us to the present day, and a shimmering awareness of the potential of the cinema as a place for profound listening experiences.
This performance focused on the fluctuations in the hormones of a female as she moves through her monthly cycle, and transcribes them into music. This includes recordings of selected months of music, how the information is tracked, and an explanation of the various patterns. Part biology lesson and part personal story, this performance examined the real taboos of sex, and talks about the things that weren’t covered in your Sex Education class.
A presentation of an augmented reality technology, originally developed for the visually-impaired, which digitally reinterprets optical input into real-time, spatially dynamic sonic output. The talk presented a brief overview of existing implementations of these technologies which, while extremely promising as an adaptive sensory tool for the disabled, have not been widely explored for their potential to introduce new, synaesthetic perceptions of space into human experience. Then they demonstrated a Java/Android phone application that performs these functions, along with a homebrewed (duct-taped!), wearable contraption: a personal mobile interface consisting of a head-mounted camera, a configured netbook running specialized software, and headphones.
This lecture with performed musical examples by John Berndt, covered aspects of his unique researches into the relationship between unusual formal structures and the phenomenology of time and quantification. The three algorithms in question each involve feedback tuned through “human perception” to create unusual instabilities and sustained qualities. These include “Shadow,” a sort of echo-within a sound; Pi Waves that sound pitched but lack a fundamental frequency; and “Relabi,” a new form of structure based on a paradoxical sense of structure unfolding in time, always slipping an implied pulse.
Small groups squeezed into Neil Feather’s crowded and fantastic studio and experience numerous experimental musical instruments. Neil shared instruments with attendees including the Nondo, the Contraption, Vibrowheels, Former Guitars, the Futura Ultra-Retro and many more.
Sound mechanic Neil Feather has been creating radical and unusual musical instruments since 1970 and is increasingly known outside of Baltimore as one of the most original musical thinkers of his day. His instruments each embody uniquely clever acoustic and engineering principles, and are visually arresting. The music he plays on the instruments is equally original, embodying new principles and resulting in a nearly alien idiom of music. A founding member of THUS and THE OFFICIAL PROJECT, as well as the leader of AEROTRAIN, he has a long history of collaborative projects and solo concerts, and he teaches a sound sculpture course at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore MD.
Concert Earth, an interactive multimedia performance, combines community engagement and cooperation with continually developing sonic and visual landscapes―allowing MEGAPOLIS attendees to explore their role and affect in the vitality of our earth. The work lets participants see and hear how choices they make with other community members have an impact on the environment.
Easy Sonic Living broadcasted live from the MEGAPOLIS festival in Baltimore on Saturday night, sampling the sounds of both the Baltimore metropolis and MEGAPOLIS’ gathering of audio artists and mixing it all up with easy peasy chatter.
The broadcast, Live from the Hexagon Gallery:
Neil was looking scragglying. The man needed a haircut, and was willing to do it live from the Hexagon Gallery as the first victim of Nelson’s Electric Chaircut.
During her *Mobile* Ringtone Performance, artist T. Foley used her cell phone and rechargeable battery-operated equipment to broadcast and amplify select audio from her public art/original ringtone creation project. Locally Toned is a not-for-profit venture that involves individuals in the creation of original ringtones, and provides the free tones to the public via a website and MMS (multimedia messaging service) distribution. The ringtones–tiny aural documentaries, sonic mementos, and soundscape snippets–answer the question, “What does Pittsburgh (or any environment, for that matter) sound like?” Locally Toned utilizes the airspace as public property for purposes of sonic transmission–the work performs itself” when participants receive calls on their cell phones. The goals of the project are technological empowerment, community service and the substitution of a system of shared creativity for one of commerce (the distribution of music industry ringtones).
Over the course of the weekend, T. Foley produced several original ringtones recorded at the festival. For your listening, ringing, and downloading pleasure:
Electric Chaircut Scissors & Comb Tone:
Electric Chaircut Clipper Tone:
The original amplified haircut performance! It is an interactive, electro-sonic, haircut performance volunteers were taped to the chair, their eyes and mouth are also taped to symbolize the fetishism of appearance. The hair was then cut by Nelson, the original master of electro-sonic hair design. The various implements are amplified, scissors and clippers wired to effects pedals, slung round his waist, and blasted through an amplifier strapped to his back. The whacking haircutting sounds reverberates in a trance like cacophony of seemingly random patterns, as the true stylistic nature of the volunteer is released.
Originally conceived in San Francisco, Nelson Loskamp has been performing Electric Chaircut, amplified haircuts, worldwide since 1989. CNN calls Electric Chaircut “A cut above”; NBC says “It’s a sidewalk sensation”; and the NY Times calls it “Cutting edge!”
Video from MEGAPOLIS artist and Big Shedder Jennifer Deer
At MEGAPOLIS, Parachute Dance created the conditions for participants to discover ecstatic dance and spontaneous performance. Parachute Dance transforms the child’s parachute – a circular cloth used for collaborative play in gymnasiums throughout America – into an interactive performance space in which participants modify music by manipulating the parachute, thereby becoming choreographers, composers and performers. A network of sensors imbedded in the parachute measures the parachute’s shape, and those measurements are used to modulate the accompanying music. The music itself is a constant driving force, composed of train sounds from the Northeast Corridor as the underlying percussion and with found sounds and field recordings filling out melodic and harmonic components.
Interviews recorded around the parachute:
A Silosphere is a personal audio and visual experience. The user places a large globe over his or her head, blocking their vision. A small video camera is mounted on top of the globe. The inside of the globe is black; in front of the user’s eyes is a small screen which displays the view from the camera. The only way for the user to see in front of him/her is through the small screen. Speakers inside the globe transmit a personal spectrum of ambient textures, beats, and melodies to the user. With the Silosphere on one’s head, the user arrives in front of a large mirror and experiences – via the small interior screen – video images reflected onto the sphere, pulsing in harmony with the interior soundscape. The Silosphere explores ideas around the science of mediated experience, radiation, sonic projection, and electromagnetism.
Composition contained in the piece (by James Bigbee Garver):
Even though MEGAPOLIS has ended, you can still download the Getting Closer application into your iPhone. Open it up. If you’re standing near a MEGAPOLIS venue in Baltimore, you will hear stuff! The sounds are virtually embedded in the landscape with GPS. Getting Closer will tell you which way to go: listen carefully. You need an iPhone for this, so make friends with someone who has one, and share! Leave 1-1.5 hours to go on the field trip. You will want to bring headphones, bus fare, and your walking shoes.
Listen to them demo the app:
For thousands of travelers in the northeast corridor, the Fung Wah bus is a cheap lifeline between cities. It’s the original Chinatown bus line, the unofficial “public transportation” for the Boston-Washington corridor. It’s famous for its $15 tickets, its white-knuckle driving, even the occasional bus fire. But it’s also famous for the stories it generates. Passengers have heard marriage proposals, have woken from drug-induced fugue states en route to New York, have had illicit love affairs with ballerinas they met on the road. Even the owner of the Fung Wah, Pei Lin Liang, has a story—as a master Chinese opera musician, his is about immigrant experience and artistic expression.
This MEGAPOLIS installation explored the larger story of the bus: the popular myths of its origins, the experience of its riders, the realities of Liang’s immigrant experience, and the music he creates as a release from it. All these stories are part of a non-linear narrative, and used low-wattage FM transmitters to broadcast bits of audio, interviews, etc from hidden locations throughout the North Arts District. By walking with a small radio tuned to one frequency, listeners can discover the story piece-by-piece, gradually revealing the greater Fung Wah experience as they explore.
Here are some stories you might have heard along your journey:
Extra special thanks to our regional coordinators and support: Katherine Gorman (regional director), Claire Caplan (regional assistant), Gina Hey (volunteer coordination and admin support), and Andrea Silenzi (documentation).
Special thanks to: Susanna Bolle, John Berndt, Vic Rawlings, Bhob Rainey, Eric Leonardson, Alessandro Bosetti, Derek Erdman, Rebekka Federle, David More, our venue hosts (Russell Deocampo, Phuong Pham, Sherwin Mark, Jon Lesser, Andy Rubin, Marian Glebes), our curators (Steve Bradley, Jason Sloan, Tim Nohe), our out-of-town artist hosts (Dennis Conrow, Lexie Mountain, Brett Yale, Andrew Kelin, Lawrence Lanahan, Alisa Alig, Jon Ehrens, Matt Sterling, Tiffany DeFoe, Zach Kauffman, Bruce Wallace), John Devecka from WLOY for loaning gear, Benjamin Edwardsen from JoeSquared and Station North Cafe for donating amazing food, and all of our great volunteers, all our fantastic artists, and of course all our attendees, fans, friends and family …