Performance Talk

May 7th 2001
Center for Research and Computing in the Arts
University of California, San Diego

First of all, I would like to thank Carol Hobson and Ted Apel here at CRCA for all their generous help in making this presentation possible. CRCA’s support is greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank Chuck Allen, Kristine Diekman, Jennifer Nowatny for make the splendid stream of digital data that will be streaming live from Emmy, the server at Cal State San Marcos. I would also like to thank and my Process of Art class at Cal State San Marcos for producing some really happening fossils for WorldmixLA And my student, Sang Nam from UCSD.

I would like to start my talk with a quote from the late William S. Burroughs, "When you cut into the present the future leaks out."

First, some background history on how the Worldmix project got started. The Worldmix project began as part of the work I do through my small erstwhile company, Fossil Media. The creation of Fossil Media began from a fortuitous encounter with the Reverend Dwight Frizzell in Kansas City, MO. I met the Reverend Dwight in 1987 while teaching at the Kansas City Art Institute. We immediately shared a great deal in common and started to collaborate together. When I met the Reverend Dwight he had started his own company/slash/artistic adventure called Wabi Media. Wabi is a Japanese word for a happy, beautiful accident, a moment of fortuitous beauty that is a result of an apparent accident. I grooved on this idea and observed that through his worthy vessel of Wabi Media, the Reverend had created a lucid environment for divining the future while producing all kinds of cross disciplinary art forms, creating hybrid events that combined performance, FM RADIO broadcasts, audio performances, alternative neo dada theatrics, Wabi Media was all supported by a legitimate bank account and tax write-offs.

The Reverend Dwight’s business of Wabi got me to thinking and in 1987 I started my own small company/slash/adventure and I called it FOSSIL MEDIA, modeling it after the stochastic beatitudes scooped by the Rev’’s small company. From that node in time foreword, our two businesses, WABI MEDIA and FOSSIL MEDIA began making what the Rev and I call WABI FOSSILS. Since its beginning, my goal with Fossil Media has been to make electromagnetic fossils, playable fossils. When I tell people what I do for a living beside teaching I say frankly, I am a producer of electromagnetic fossils, contemporary fossils just like the ones we as a techno culture are producing on a massive scale everyday.

The idea for producing electromagnetic fossils came to me on one of my many drives through the ancient spectral landscape of my home state of Kansas. While speeding down the back roads and surfing the AM and FM dial, I wondered what constitutes a modern fossil these days? What kinds of fossils will future generations be digging up that our generation leaves behind? And then the idea came to me: cassette tapes, video tapes, CDs and, on a more ethereal level, ephemeral radio waves. Radio waves are our way of making deep space fossils to leave for future generations to dig up in outer space. My idea to produce contemporary electromagnetic fossils came to me while driving 90 miles per hour as I listened to the bean and corn harvest report coming from a crackly AM radio station broadcasting from some backwater town north of Wichita Kansas. While driving through roadcuts in the Midwest, one can literally and metaphorically travel back in time through the various geological ages which have been exposed by the bulldozer gashes in the hillsides. The roadcuts were like real time horizontal and vertical movies seen through the windshield that played the epic fossilized history movies of the Precambrian era, the Silurian, the Pennsylvanian, the Neolithic era and the contemporary topsoil era which we are adding to daily.

And so I thought, why not, produce fossils that are playable, etched on nautilus-like spirals, micro-level fossils etched electromagnetically on tape, etched on CDs, etched with radio waves on the ephemeral tabula Rosa of the mind in the present tense. From that point on, as they say, it’s all history, Fossil Media took off. The Reverend and I began to collaborate, creating radio broadcasts, playing back our Wobi Fossils to the culture that produced them.

Interlude mix.

The origins of the Wordmix Project.

In 1991 on hot June afternoon on a wide breezy limestone porch in Kansas City, MO, the Reverend Dwight and I conjured the beginnings of what would later evolve into our current ongoing Worldmix project. At the time we called it the World Brain mix, which consisted of a live FM radio broadcast mix/performance which was aired on the Rev’s bi-weekly radio show called FROM ARK TO MICROCHIP. The World Brain Mix was an attempt to tune in the world and the universe by using all kinds of radios to snag and record radio signals out of the airwaves. These audio fossils would then be mixed together at the station and then broadcast back out, via the 100 thousand watt radio station, KCUR FM 89.3. We used fm and AM radios, cb radios, police scanners, short-wave radios and prerecorded material from all corners of the earth. We recorded each broadcast to magnetic tape and these recordings of the first performances became the start of the audio fossil beds which are now layered nine performance deep. When you listen to tonight’s performance of WORLDmixLA and WORLDmixMONTREAL remember that you are hearing back in time. The Rev and I went on to do several more broadcast which eventually evolved into the Worldmix project. And whatever city we did the Worldmix project in it would be tagged on to the end of the title. For example, WorldmixMontreal, WorldmixOsnabruck, and most recently, WORLDmixLA.

While working on the first WORLD Brain Mixes, we surmised that wireless technologies were THE way to tune IN such a large unfathomable SPRAWLING edgeless thing as the universe. On a more subconscious level we were both hunching that an even more ubiquitous and eloquently powerful medium would come along that would join with radio and be even more suited to tuning in the sonosphere of our universe. This hunch has turned out to be the WORLD WIDE WEB. The web is making every point in space more or less equally accessible, providing the perfect hybrid tuner to tune in the universe.

Short radio interlude

In preparation for the first World Brain Mix, I got a government grant through FOSSIL MEDIA which allowed us to equip my Ford Aero star Van to go out and do remote recordings within the 100 thousand watt/150 mile broadcast radius of the FM station of KCUR. We went audio fossil hunting in a huge circle, weaving a crazy path through the sonosphere and recording them to a four track cassette recorder mounted on the dash of the Van. These audio fossils would later be mixed down in the studios of KCUR and played back during the live broadcast.The idea was to tune the world brain and broadcast this mix of our shared sonosphere back out into the airspace where it came from. This multi-temporal tuning and broadcasting conjured a kind of all-in-one language of the collective psyche of our universe. By broadcasting these recordings, we reanimated the sonic life residing in the electromagnetic audio fossils. The World Brian Mix was intended as an ongoing, ever expanding and complexifying alternative audio history of the universe. Each new performance/broadcast we did of the World Brain Mix would include all previous mixes thereby creating layers of sonic fossils. Each broadcast would expose and make audible the audio fossil beds, much like driving through the roadcuts in the countryside of Kansas and exposing the various geological eras.

Some of our early designs for the World Brain Mix were decidedly wacky, exuberantly unrealistic, but the more far out the better because imagination is a way divining the future. One of the first ideas we had (which was never realized) was to somehow break down the old one way street model of radio which was based on the one point to many structure, one transmitter broadcasting to many receivers. The idea was to get all the radio stations in Kansas City to broadcast each others signals at once. We wanted to create a radio space and time that was a truly democratic, airwaves that abandoned the private property of assigned frequencies in favor of a convivial commingling of all the airwaves together. The FCC would never go for it but this was a necessary pipe dream on the porch. But within this dream was embedded the future possibility of just such a democratic broadcast space. It is called the World Wide Web.

Interlude mix

I would now like to take the ubiquitous path to some non linear theoretical musings on the Worldmix project and also make some amateur prophecies along the way.

Grammar goes out the window at this point, jumping from word to word willynilly on an improvised path. Here goes: loop back to world brain mix, the reference to all radio stations in one town broadcasting each others signals, frequencies this evolves into the internet which makes it possible to broadcast a number of radio stations through one website via a streaming server.

The server i the prosthetic device for our minds that allows us this simultaneity. going against the old fm one point to many fcc bust your ass for stepping over the line into someone else’s frequencies recombinant culture we william burroughs cutup technique cut into the future and what leaks out. McCluahn’s notion of radio as a cold medium,\ you generate the content

What is radio these days?

fm radio has metamorphosed into internet connecting up to another wireless medium the cell phone satellite broadcasting, the invisible net tuning the world brain through the net one point to many loop back ref to many points to many fcc opening up radio to low watt stations

The WORLDmix project is a step towards the grand cephelization, the omega point the rev dwight’s idea of the psycho zoic era our bodies have slowed down evolutionarily but our minds are entering the psychozoic era the era of the psche all kinds of prosthetic devices for the limbs and organs of the body but the internet is a prosthetic device for the mind radio interlude starting a mobile internet radio and TV station streaming on locations around the WORLD. Unlike the stationary private property of conventional radio stations, Fossil media would not need to have a building.

WORLDmix Project

Unlike the traditional one-way model of broadcast radio, which involves a single transmitter transmitting to many receivers, my proposed radio/internet station would operate on the principle of many transmitters and many receivers transmitting and receiving in "real time" simultaneously on multiple radio frequencies and on the internet. This two-way model of broadcasting would "abandon the borders of territory" and potentially create a more democratic, less corporate space and time for cultural and artistic activity around the globe. Each new performance of WORLDmix is mixed in with recordings of all previous broadcasts, thus creating a generative and evolving audio history of our shared sonosphere on planet earth.The plan is to set up nodes on the internet all around the world to stream live mixes from the wilds of the Sonosphere.

Thank you.