Alternative to The Media-Driven Forecasts
Amelia Marzec and Robert Mayson are going to perform Particulate Matter at the closing event of Artificial Retirement on September 11th at Flux Factory. Particulate Matter is an experiment in spatialized sound using decaying, discarded and hacked technology as sound sources. The sounds are broadcast from a series of hand-constructed FM radio transmitters, and play back on a series of salvaged boomboxes and portable radios positioned around the space. They created this system to tune in and hear the signal overlapping, fluctuating, and intruding upon one another locally.
The installation Weather Center for the Apocalypse is another forecasting station created by Marzec and the weather tower is made of 90% actual garbage and other donated items. The forecasts consider both actual weather data in general and also superstitions, anxieties, and fears about the apocalypse. Marzec describes the weather tower as “using second-hand predictions” from any passersby. The alternative forecasting station is now sitting in the Flux Gallery for the Artificial Retirement exhibition. The piece is very performance / story driven and usually Marzec performs with it to interview people and feed the forecasts.
Mayson is a sound artist and musician. His drone and textural works explore the unintentional sonic properties of musical instruments and non-musical objects, removing context to produce introspective timbral environments. Marzec is an artist focused on enabling activist communities through innovative uses of technology. I interviewed Mayson and Marzec to get to know more about her forecasting project and her collaborative performance with Mayson.
What made you to create Weather Center for the Apocalypse?
The Weather Center for the Apocalypse began during an anxious time when I was in a relationship that was failing, at the same time that my Grandfather’s health was failing. It was a moment of knowing that these things were going to end, while not knowing exactly when that was going to happen. I needed to prepare and put things in perspective: what would be the most outrageous ending? The world could end, of course. With the current focus on climate change, it didn’t seem that far off.
My previous project, New American Sweatshop, is a working model of an electronics manufacturing factory for a post-industrial economy, using our trash as a natural resource. I began building the Weather Center using those methods, and it has become a news media center for a pre-apocalyptic world. It initially provided forecasts to STROBE Network, a news network that broadcast from Flux Factory in 2015. News and weather reports that were both practical and fantastical fed a daily apocalypse warning system.
It soon became clear that the Weather Center for the Apocalypse needed to be prepared for complete telecommunications failure, so the Weather Tower was built from salvaged wood, metal, glass and electronics, to collect local weather data independently of official channels. Predictions, fears, and anxieties are collected by interviewing local residents. Severe warnings are broadcast over the Transient Civic Broadcast System, an FM radio transmitter that can be worn and can reach several hundred feet.
How did you guys start working together with Robert?
We met through a mutual interest in DIY electronics. We both thrift, salvage, solder and build. We discussed pirate radio, the 80’s mini FM scene in Japan, the impending cessation of FM broadcasting in Norway and the end of tape machine manufacturing around the world. We had both built small FM transmitters for past projects and we questioned what would happen when FM radio shuts down. We envisaged all this technology sitting around ignored and dormant, available for anyone to exploit. Particulate Matter was formed to explore a likely scenario in which FM, electronic, and cassette technology are no longer used or catered for. We’ve pieced together our own broadcasting system out of salvaged and hand built technology.
Tell us more about the sound materials you use for your performance?
We are curious about the future of obsolete and dormant technologies. Old tech gets discarded quickly, and we see the potential to re-use and incorporate these redundant technologies in creative and practical ways.
Growing up in the 80s and early 90s, the cassette tape was the choice medium among our peers, and the optimal format for spreading underground music in DIY circles. Though tape is still embraced in deluxe recording scenarios, the cassette tape is presently more of a cult format. Though this technology has become widely discarded and unwanted, it is still rather abundant and one can find cassettes and players on any thrifting venture.
We hold a large amount of admiration for early tape music pioneers and experimenters, particularly from the Musique Concrete movement. Works produced within the GRM in France have influenced advances in audio technology. For Particulate Matter, we have recorded and collaged the sounds of resonant objects and salvaged instruments to cassette tapes which we play back on walkmen, and broadcast through our hand built FM radio transmitters. Any FM radio can be used to tune into the broadcasts; we have our own sound system comprised of various radios, boomboxes, and alarm clocks, plus anyone can tune in with their own radio adding to the atmosphere or privatizing their experience.
FM radio is giving way to web-based and satellite variations. As mentioned, there are talks of FM radio shutting down in Norway. Perfectly functional radios are increasingly being discarded. We are curious as to what will become of that potentially vacant airspace once the corporate world gives up on radio. The mini FM movement in 1980’s Japan provides some insight into what could happen when given free access to the FM band. In Japan people communicated and subverted the mainstream commodification of culture via small-proximity radio broadcasting, allowing individual communities to cater to and push their own local interests… including politics, music, and advertising.
What kind of interactions are you going to create with the audience for your performance at the closing event?
We will bring our sound system of transmitters and radios and disperse them for people to walk amongst and listen to. Anyone is welcome to bring a radio to incorporate into the sound system.
Artist Talk + Potluck Dinner Event: September 8th 6pm
Closing Event: September 11th 6pm with performances by Amelia Marzec and Robert Mayson, Openfield, Kat Sullivan, Sergio Mora-Diaz and Caitlin Sikora. AR is a Flux Factory major exhibition.
Gallery Hours: August 19 until September 11, 2016, Thursday through Sunday 1pm — 6pm or by appointment.