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Disinformation + Usurp VLF project archive now online!

October 14, 2013

Iniva, Rivington Place, Liminal Brochure 2009

Following precedents set by the Disinformation “R&D” CD (published 1996), “R&D2” CD (1997) and “Sense Data & Perception” CD (2005), Disinformation & Usurp created several collaborative sound and video artworks, which use VLF (Very Low Frequency) radio recordings of interference radiated by electric rails in (for instance) the London Underground. Following those original CD tracks, the 1st collaborative sound and video version of this concept (entitled “Tokyo Underground”) was created for (and created en-route to) the “Dislocate” exhibition at Souzoukukan 9001 in Yokohama in Aug 2008. The 2nd version (entitled “Noise Underground”) was commissioned by Pixel Palace, for a week-long exhibition of films by Disinformation, which ran continuously in Tyneside Cinema’s main art-deco theatre in Feb 2009. The 3rd version (“London Underground”) was commissioned by Iniva, for the “Liminal” exhibition at Rivington Place gallery, London, curated by Gary Stewart, March 2009. The original “London Underground” recording (made 2002, published 2005) was also broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in June 2008. The audio aspect of this concept was conceived by Joe Banks, the video aspect was conceived later on by Poulomi Desai, and Poulomi has posted an archive of (these and other) collaborative Disinformation & Usurp electromagnetic noise projects, which you can access here…

In terms of what VLF radio art, and other forms of electromagnetic sound art, have to do with the “Rorschach Audio” project’s focus on ambiguities of perception, Marshall Segall, Donald Campbell & Melville Herskovits wrote in “The Influence of Culture on Visual Perception” (“An Advanced Study in Psychology and Anthropology” Bobbs Merrill 1966), that…

“A significant aspect of the enculturative experience, is that the individual typically remains, throughout his lifetime, unaware of how his own habits, which to him appear “only natural”, in fact result from a learning process in which he never had an opportunity to attempt alternative responses. Every human being goes through a process on enculturation, and its effects may be detected as readily in the rebel as in the conformist… Once the child has acquired language, the bulk of his knowledge of the world is conveyed to him through reports on what others have observed and learned. Even his direct learning in contact with physical objects is usually preceded by expectations based upon second-hand knowledge. For such knowledge the invisible but narrow limitations set by the categories of culture are profoundly important in moulding its final form. Just as we are not responsive to the broad bands of qualitatively similar electromagnetic waves that our eyes exclude or neglect in vision, so too are we unaware of the alternative categorizations, evaluations and behavioural modes that our particular culture excludes or neglects” (emphasis added).

As the text for the “London Underground” video (note emphasis) by Disinformation & Usurp put it – and relating the Segall, Campbell & Herskovits idea even more closely to the auditory misperceptions and perceptual and verbal creativity explored by the “Rorschach Audio” project – the “London Underground” installation “uses a Very Low Frequency electromagnetic and subterranean landscape recording that acts both as a metaphor for the claustrophobia and intensity of urban living, and as a reference to the transient, subterranean and outsider cultures suggested by the double-meaning implicit in the installation’s title”. In other words, that title doesn’t just (obviously) refer to the name of London’s underground railway system, it also alludes to (an expanded awareness of) cultural and even political phenomena…

It’s basically the same idea that’s alluded to by the first quote from David Cronenberg (see earlier posts, below).

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