Sunday, March 26, 2006

trp at ps1 - thursday, march 30

if you're in or near new york, don't miss what sounds like an exceptional evening of listening to / talking about / otherwise appreciating some real audio gems. this thursday, march 30, the remarkable ladies of the relay project (an 'audio magazine' published on cd and featuring a diverse collection of sounds, stories, noises and other sonic tinkerings) are teaming up with the p.s. 1 arts center to present "just one moment can change your life" - an evening of moments in sound and magazines. the event is part of the fine print series, which regularly presents public programs co-organized with innovative publications from all over.

admission is free, but seating is limited. you can pick up a tickets in the main lobby of
p.s. 1 on the day of the event.

wish i could be there myself...

Friday, March 24, 2006

one person's bboorrriiiing / another person's treasure

it's no secret that found objects, notes or personal belongings provide a certain intrigue, mostly harmless, often unsatiable, about the person who did the losing. often found materials call the finder to action, inspiring some sort of response or documentation. this is exactly what happened when brad (from canada) found a lonely cassette at a garage sale, and shared its contents with adam (from the uk). the result? the mothers' day project.

on the cassette was a man giving instructions to his kids on how to use their computer. in the middle of instruction he begins to scold them for not having sent their mother a present for mothers' day. he then carries on with instruction, which is taped over a few weeks' duration, until he apologizes for his outburst as a present has indeed arrived for dear mom. (maybe the post was just slow.)

brad found the cassette and sent the audio to adam
, who sampled phrases from the tape and fashioned two songs from the the samples - one showcasing the father's outburst, the other his apology. the result is beautiful, and a somehow very gentle eavesdropping into the life of an anonymous family we'll never know anything more about. have a listen, though be warned, it's a bit heartbreaking...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

sound for sales

a few nights ago while walking along the bahnhofstrasse in zurich, in search of some delicious and strange luxemburgerli [word to the wise - don't pack them in your suitcase if you're hoping to present them, intact, to that special someone on the other side of the ocean.] i suddenly realized i heard birds singing, loudly. this might not have been too odd if there'd been any trees in the vicinity, but in fact there were not any trees in the vicinity. only clothing stores, shoe stores, fancy handbag stores and jewelry stores.

my brain tried to refute the information being absorbed by my ears, because there was simply no way that any birds could have possibly been residing nearby, let alone screaming at the top of their lungs in a brash, electronically-assisted voice.
what i then realized was that the bird songs were emanating from an urban outfitters-type two-story fashion supermarket. having introduced its new spring line-up the store had then enhanced the window displays full of mannequins sporting various greens, yellows, pinks and blues with over-driven bird calls, sirens of purchase, beckoning wayward shoppers into the store with all their might.

i was stangely excited about this discovery, while at the same time disgusted. i've never quite heard sound used so purposefully to publicly promote consumerism in quite this way (i mean pure sound, not advertisements or jingles) and so on one hand found it horrifying...but on the other hand, i had to admit - the idea was kind of brilliant. the birdsongs could be heard from over a block away, and right around the point where they finally faded away i was close enough to another location of the same store that i'd be able to hear its own bird chorus. and on a rainy, grey day in zurich, the cheerful bird calls added a surreal, sort of joyful element to the busy shopping district.

the more i walked around, encountering the birdsong loop from one shop to another, the more fascinated i became with sales tactic that was clearly making it's mark on my psyche. though i fear what may eventually happen if this sort of idea takes off as a slam-dunk advertising technique - can you even imagine the cacophonous mess that would bleed out onto store-lined streets? not to mention there'd be one more thing to check your pockets for, before leaving home - your earplugs.

i'm proud to say i resisted entering the bird song stores to purchase a new spring skirt to bring home to chicago. though i _did_ eventually find the luxemburgerli shop. have i mentioned they don't pack well??

it's good to be back. but that switzerland's one amazing country. small, but mighty. and direct democracy seems such a sensible way to run a place. if only they served more tofu over there...

Monday, March 13, 2006

suppression impossible

the vicious head cold that everyone claimed would last 72 hours is now in its fifth day, finally receding. what gives? it was beautiful in chicago this past weekend, which i spent mostly in bed listening to the world go by outside my open (for the first time all year) window. in case you missed it, this past weekend the world sounded like kids shrieking and kids cursing at each other and various snatches of radio as cars drove by, pretending to halt at the stop sign, and a few arguments which might have qualified as 'heated' and silly birds who were already singing, hopefully, about the new season and ringing cell phones and boastful car alarms. and then the rain started so the tires began swooshing and we had a few really great thunderclaps which sent the cat scurrying around mindlessly, inside, and someone, somewhere, got a good laugh at that, i'm sure. and i've never been so thankful for something as technologically ridiculous as kleenex with aloe and vitamin e.