Sound Madness

George Mason with radio set, 1913, Fredonia NY

George Mason with radio set, 1913, Fredonia NY

I seem to be traveling down some crazy detour in my pursuit to produce radio or video that is entertaining to anyone but myself. I find myself studying radio that no one listens to — at least no one I know.

I keep tuning in lo-fi, crackling collages from the likes of Anna Friz and other sound artists, who tell a story by piecing together the gasps and sighs and hesitations between the words. On Saturday I got mesmerized by “Radiophonic Creation Day” — surrealist radio emanating from somewhere in Europe. It becomes a strange place to visit in your head. I think of my dad (who was an airforce radio guy in WWII) — I think of him with playing with old radio dials in the dark, trying to tune into some faraway place — crackling fuzz, flanging yowls, muffled voices. We got him a shortwave radio once, but he was disappointed that the tuning had gone digital — he missed those ghosts in the infinite fine-tuning space.

I’m also reading a book called Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism. I thought it would be about Charlie McCarthy and charming popular entertainment. Little did I suspect that it would be about demonic possessions and the freaky nature of disembodied voices. A weird intersection between ancient spiritual beliefs and the modern introduction  of radio and voice recordings.

Amid this, I’m attempting an “artistic” revision of a radio piece I did last year on “Karma.” It’s forcing me way past my comfort zone, both in skills and in thinking about voices floating through space.

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