Carrier Signal

Hilary Harp (USA) and Reva Stone (Canada) collaborated to create this work that uses vintage radios to mark the centenary of the birth of John Cage (Sept. 5, 1912) and the 20th anniversary of his death (Aug. 12, 1992). This work takes into account the impending demise of analog radio and its replacement by a digital signal. As a result of this technological change, important compositions of John Cage's work for radio which includes Radio Music (1955) and Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (1951) may soon not be performable at all.

Cage’s works for radio were based on scores developed through chance operations, which designated a series of tunings and volumes for radios. The compositions that resulted included static between stations, silence, and bursts of talk and music. In Cage’s compositions live performers adjusted the knobs on the radio according to Cage’s score. We developed an electro-mechanical system, using programmable stepper motors to tune vintage radios, producing similar compositions. Our system includes the capacity to record the compositions, preserving the sounds of the soon to be obsolete radio signals in a database for our future use.

    Credits

  • Hilary Harp - collaborator and video editor
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