Hull Time Based Arts - Electromagnetic Sound Art by Disinformation - 1999
Page 4 and (part of) page 5 from the brochure for the TOOT (Totally Out of Tune) Festival, organised by Hull Time Based Arts, October 1999. The article describes ideas and thought-processes influencing the sonic arts project Disinformation, focussing particularly on the project’s engagement with VLF radio and electromagnetic noise. The article argues that “recordings of atmospheric electromagnetic activity - radio from outside the realm of conventional broadcast activity… can be understood as a futuristic analogue of traditional wildlife recording”, and argues that “it can be productive to look beyond the pejorative associations of the word noise… because doing so exposes listeners to phenomena of surprising complexity and importance”. Similarly, in keeping with the notion of radio art as “neurological body art”, the article further states that “radio realises unprecedented synaesthetic opportunities, expanding perceptual bandwidth, and opening afferent [neural] pathways to floods of unfamiliar impulses”.
The article discusses ideas of and research by Benoit Mandelbrot, Karl Jansky, Rudolph Arnheim, Albert Einstein, Norbert Weiner, Jean Perrin, Arno Penzias, Robert Wilson, Robert Helliwell and Heinrich Barkhausen, and describes the sound installations “Theophany” and “National Grid” by Disinformation. Anticipating the “Re-sounding” installation exhibited by Susan Hiller in Edinburgh 15 years later, the article also emphasises the cultural importance of the discovery of microwave background radiation - describing the so-called “echo” of the Big Bang as ““the observational backbone of contemporary scientific cosmology”.
The brochure features an introduction written by the artist-curator David Toop, plus texts by Mike Stubbs and Gillian Dyson, and lists (on page 15) the contributing artists as Aaron Williamson, Alexi Shulgin, Ansuman Biswas, Benoit Maubrey, Caroline Bergvall, Charlemagne Palestine, Chris Gladwin, Eike, Erwin Stache, Gebhard Stengmuller, Hayley Newman, Helmut Lemke, James Bailey, Jean Toussaint, Jim Y Wood, Joe Banks, Jon Rose, Kevin Henderson, Kypros Kyprianou, Laurence Lane, Lone Twin, Mark Fell, Nigel Helyer, Paul Burwell, Rachel Baker & Heath Bunting, Peter Bosch & Simone Simons, Susan Philipsz, The User, Vicky Bennett and Kisspal Szabolcs. The festival also featured film programmes from EMARE and Film & Video Umbrella. Joe Banks was invited to exhibit in the TOOT Festival by Mike Stubbs (now director of FACT, Liverpool), and the festival was organised for Hull Time Based Arts by Mike Stubbs, Gillian Dyson, Rob Gawthrop and the HTBA team.
The brochure was produced and distributed as a special insert in Mute magazine, and was designed and printed in black and pale yellow… page 4 was designed with white text reversed-out of a faint yellow-and-black duotone, with the effect that one paragraph in particular was almost impossible to read. For this reason the colours in the scan posted here have been reversed to render the text readable (click on the image to enlarge). The brochure was designed by Tom McCarthy - author of “C” and “Satin Island” etc. Page 11 of the brochure (not shown) introduces the Disinformation sound installations on the Arctic Corsair museum ship.
Article copyright © Joe Banks 1999