Suspension (concluded)

June 8th, 2009


Well, as some of you may have heard, we did the broadcast, all five hours of it. The mobile phone battery died a short distance from the summit so Gaz and Kate’s ascent disappeared from view and entered a realm of the imagination where, for me at least, it had always been. My role in all this was merely to listen and grope forward into the impenetrable darkness of other people’s experience. I suppose others would have argued for webcams and real-time visuals to make it more tangible, but these are surely no better than audio when it comes to the actual affirmation of someone else’s efforts or achievements.

Jim Perrin is one of the country’s truly great living writers, not well known outside of climbing circles but to my mind infinitely preferable to the numberless Sunday Supplement novelists that dominate discussions about literature. His voice is such that I could listen to him all day - reciting gibberish if needs be. The eloquence and energy of his spoken contributions brought added depth to the piece and stood in intriguing juxtapostion to Gaz’s semi-conscious reiteration of television them tunes, hummed when faced with (presumably) a tricky situation on the rock-face (and which provided one of the many rhythmic motifs in the broadcast).  I’m now going to listen back to the whole thing, talk to people whose opinion I respect, and try and figure out what it all means and how we might develop it.

Chris has another day out in Spain and I thought I heard him say on the phone that he was going to tackle a climb himself. Could that really be the case? He hasn’t yet heard Jim’s commentary.

I find myself wanting to provide a review of the broadcast, but that is not my business and I have no means of bringing things to a tidy conclusion (which bodes ill for doing all the necessary paperwork for the funders). I’d intended when I sat down a few minutes ago to present some coherent and intelligent thoughts about the whole project, but this morning I’ve woken up to find myself living in a country dominated by the Right, as voters promote assorted fascists and phonies to represent them in Europe.

I find myself strangely distracted and looking round for my own rock to climb, or even crawl under.

Suspension (encore)

June 7th, 2009


rock1Saturday (late): Chris sends a few images (one is shown above). I am at home, where my girlfriend has come down with a virus that has her hallucinating complex sequences of numbers. Curious. Chris doesn’t phone all day and is surprised that I sound “panicky” when I eventually speak to him. I’ve been thinking about this project for about five years and suppose he must suppose I am watching television or doing a crossword…

Chris and Jim are calm and collected about the whole project. Maybe I am the only one  who gets agitated about these things. I get agitated about lots of things. 

I’m quite interested in manifestations of obsessive compulsive disorder as well as those repetitive ticks of behaviour that accompany low level neurosis and illness. I spend quite a lot of time counting the flat surfaces of objects (furniture mostly) as a way of structuring what I must suppose is my lack of control of reality. I am certain it constitutes a “syndrome” of some sort but am not keen to discover more. Typically, while conversing with someone, I will meantime be figuring out how many flat planes a table, mug, ashtray or other object within reach, possesses. Even if I have counted them many times before: in fact, I never retain any clear idea of what typifies a table (say) or chair. I don’t think this remarkable or even problematic: it barely interferes with life . I merely mention it as a perverse aside to the fibonacci sequence mentioned elsewhere. 

Okay, I have to go and listen to a few things before tomorrow’s broadcast; and before my four year old rises and demands all the things she demands.

Suspension of Belief (continued)

June 5th, 2009

Friday: Chris phoned from the foot of the rock this morning and we experimented with our very basic technology: a mobile phone with some ambisonic mikes attached. The mikes didn’t sound any better than the standard attachment, but we managed to pick up the noise of gulls and Gaz talking. An hour of aborted phone calls, buzzing noises and interference followed: atmospheric but not exactly what we wanted. Meantime, my fibonacci sequence outline has been deemed both obscure and beside the point: it will be hard enough to cue all the contributions according to my complex timings even without the mobile phone cutting out every few minutes. Finally, I’ve asked several people to provide snatches of music but bad luck has dogged their efforts so far. Keith Rowe is hoping to send me something but the airline has lost all his electronics.

Pondering all this on the train home, my thoughts were thrown into disarray by a wild man who hijacked the driver, ran through the train, suddenly appeared yelling outside on the tracks, came back on the train, then disappeared: total delay, about an hour.  Simultaneously, for reasons I cannot fathom, my own mobile phone went berserk - meaning that I was stranded incommunicado, a state that ordinarily I’d consider blissful but which this afternoon left me merely exasperated and out of sorts.

Later, Jim Perrin writes and tells me to relax, everything will be fine.

ADDENDA (Saturday morning): I meant to say that Gaz reckons the climb will take about five hours. So anyone expecting a quick 90 minute show (given somewhere in the early publicity information about this project) should revise their expectations. From the listener’s point of view the pace will be “leisurely.” 

The fibonacci sequence (measured in minutes from noon) as it is superimposed upon the broadcast (European times given for majority usage), going up and down within the five hours for convenience sake and perhaps to suggest equilibrium: 1.01,, 1.03, 1.05, 1.10, 1.18, 1.31, 1.52, 2.26,  3.21, 4.16, 4.50, 5.11, 5.25, 5.33, 5.38, 5.41, 5.43, 5.44 with zero points at either end and one in the middle of the sequence to allow for 21 separate points along the x and y axis. Gaz Parry’s activity occupies all 21 points, Chris Weaver’s 13, Jim Perrin’s 8, the musicians 5, the announcer 3, the theme music 2 and a random noise of virtually nil duration 1. You can tell I have been reading too much Mario Merz recently (as part of some hackwork for Tate Modern, as it happens).

Suspension of Belief (update)

June 4th, 2009

Chris has gone to Valencia today to meet with Gaz Parry. Gaz is going to tackle the Via Valencianos on the Penon d’Ifach (pictured)., which he reckons will take between 3 and 6 hours. Meantime, Jim Perrin and I have been discussing the use of a Fibonacci sequence to order his spoken-word contributions to the broadcast. This means he starts talking at 12.32; 12.52; 1.26; 2.21 and so on. I’ll write up further notes when I have a moment, but today all is frantic - and I have a lecture to deliver this afternoon at the London College of Communication. My mind is on other things.images

Suspension of Belief, 7.6.09

May 27th, 2009

Sketch 2 for Suspension of Belief which we at last plan to broadcast on 7 June, arose from discussions that Chris Weaver and I had over the last few years, but particularly when we were in residence at the AV08: Broadcast festival in Middlesbrough. There we had decided to restage Antonin Artaud’s “Our en finir avec le jugement de dieu” as part of the festival’s celebration of iconic radio works. The French academic and actor Christoph Alix kindly agreed to provide the voice for this. Rhodri Davies, the well-known harpist, and Tom Besley, a young guitarist who had worked with us before in the Resonance Radio Orchestra, joined us to provide the musical setting, with Chris on circuit-bent devices and me on turntable. We spent a day trying to work our way through the piece, did two takes and then Rhodri had to drive home.

The next morning, the rest of us recorded two takes of a short piece the text of which I had written on the flight up to the festival: this was the first sketch for Suspension of Belief and was deliberately intended as a fragment. It was broadcast by ORF in Austria at the suggestion, I think, of Knut Aufermann. It attempted to combine a reflection on Artaud, the sense of fear when flying, the mood of certain childhood memories and the gist of a discussion Chris and I had had about being airborne. The idea was simple: to create a “radiophonic object,” small, partial and incomplete. Later when we came to talk more about what over the years (it was an idea I had even before I met Chris) we called “the rock-climbing show,” the tone set by this first sketch seemed suggestive.

I wanted to broaden the scope of the text and thought that bringing in another writer was the simplest and best option: my role would simply be to facilitate an encounter rather than to direct the participants. The encounter would be acousmatic: the participants wouldn’t be able to see one another, nor hear one another. Put simply, we thought in terms of a post-expressionist experiment. Chris likewise rapidly assumed a technical role. The upshot is that he will travel next week to Spain to broadcast a climb by the English climber Gaz Parry, while the writer Jim Perrin (a very fine writer who was himself a climber) provides the text from our friends Bob & Maggie’s studio in Caudeval. Incidental sound and/or music may be brought into the mix – we have yet to see who might be to hand and who we think suitable. With Bob Drake as engineer, anything is possible.

This is a project that has been gestating for a long time and then has very suddenly been drawn together. For us, it is a research project for a larger work, in which perhaps we will combine many different elements in a rich radiophonic object. The trouble is, Chris and I mostly have too much work to do at the radio station, so our artistic projects move forward so very slowly… and I am not even certain we have discussed this yet in any depth. For the time being, we’re excited to get our teeth into a self-created problem and see where it all leads.

Another time, I’ll write about other aspects of this project, at the risk of boring the reader with too much information. After the event, I think.

Ed Baxter

May 27th, 2009



May 18th, 2009



May 16th, 2009


Carturesti (teadrinker’s library) is a library, but at same time a teahouse, a gallery and a performance and discussion space. In Bucharest the sound performance could not find an actual radio-frequency, but to be honest we didn’t even try, as we didn’t expect such an openness.
With carturesti the live acts CATO-COPTERS (live radio-drama) and TESLA ANIMALS (quasi musical experiment) take place as sound performance on a stage, but at the same time as an intervention in a multi-functional (semi-public) space.

wolfgang kemptner

Keith Rowe: Above and Beyond - excerpt

April 11th, 2009

Why I use the radio:

Found Object

Unpredictable content

Fixed to a time and a place

Part of a global culture and at the same time a local culture.

Part of the process of shifting the object from the utilitarian to the aesthetic.

Allows vulgar materials to be incorporated into the performance

Difficult to determine whether it elevates, degenerates or celebrates the sources of the materials

Additional multiplicity

Creativity at the point of juxtaposition

Integration of another media

Helps to produce a layered sensation

Produces a form of counterpoint


Perpetual variation


Reproduces certain aspects of daily life


Challenges the notion of authority that came from technique

Adds to the polyphony of timbre

Has its own unique texture

A question of reality and a question of art: the artistic fact

Engages in imitation

Replaces the exterior contribution of the composer in some aspects.

Environment and noise

Provides melody for the guitar

Lack of uniqueness in its contribution

Helps with the act of music making, of organising in front of you

Changes the perceptions of the performance.

Find more:

April 3rd, 2009


rolling stone from Sazano mill (video)


rolling stone from Buja mill (video)