Over at the Kindle Project, a guest blog post by yours truly, on my Radio GooGoo sound installation project for the Studio Museum in Harlem, which I never recorded or documented. The generosity of the Kindle Project was a real lifesaver & inspiration in the past months; I’ll post more about that soon. Until then, here are two pieces of my write-up for them:
“In 2010 the Studio Museum in Harlem invited me to create an audio installation for the museum’s front rooms, as part of their StudioSound series. My main concern was for the museum staff – the guy who does coatcheck, the people behind the front desk. They have to stand around there all day, so the last thing I wanted to do was make a 10-minute song which they’d be forced to listen to, on repeat, for months. Museum guards are the main audience for museum art. How could I create a constantly changing audio piece that wouldn’t wear out its welcome? “
“When it was up & running, Radio GooGoo cycled between three FM stations/algorithms, one each day:
* A classical station transforms into floating ambience. The results are a gauzy, drifting cloud, which is periodically tuned to the dominant musical scales of North Africa (Arabic, Berber). Classical music receives an enormous amounts of funding. This piece engages ideas of “classical” both as a Western system of listening and a virtuosic performance, but mostly it sounds like Beethoven on zero-gravity painkillers.
* My piece for Hot97 (“blazing hiphop and r&b”) makes the station’s broadcasts sound like a lovesick synthesizer inside a dripping cave. Mostly it’s a lot of atonal, irregularly spaced bleeps with a timbral palette that alludes to classic mid-20th century musique concrete, but at times it resolves into legibility and you’re able to recognize the stacatto main riff of a popular song (albeit replayed on a vocoder). Sometimes the signal with go completely unprocessed for seconds, so listeners can hear the transformations.”