Case Pyhäjoki – Artistic reflections on nuclear influence
Transdisciplinary expedition, production workshop and events
Location: Pyhäjoki, Finland
Time: 31.7. – 12.8.2013
For: artists, activists, scientists, thinkers and doers + everything and opinion in-between.
Deadline to apply: 5.5.2013 (e-mail letter of motivation to mkk[-at-]katastro.fi)
Initiated by artist Mari Keski-Korsu, now a collaboration between artist-organiser and researcher Andrew Paterson/Pixelache, musician and artist Antye Greie-Ripatti/Hai Art, Finnish Bioart Society and Pro Hanhikivi.
‘Case Pyhäjoki – Artistic reflections on nuclear influence’ is a transdisciplinary artistic expedition, production workshop and presentation events in Pyhäjoki, North Ostrobothnia, Finland 31st of July to 12th of August 2013. The sixth nuclear power plant of Finland is planned to be built at Hanhikivi Cape in Pyhäjoki.
The aim of the project is to explore artistic perspectives on the vast changes planned in Pyhäjoki, through the planning of a nuclear power plant at the site, and this way of considering energy production and consuming in the world. Artists can not only reflect upon and depict social phenomena and socio-economical relations, but can also situate themselves in between politics, activism and science. Can art make changes? If so, what would be the creative tools of activism? Life itself has become increasingly politicised in the new millennium and obviously this reflects on us all. There are plenty of art works that comment on issues seen unethical or wrong, revealing different kinds of world views. Also, there are community art projects that comment for example social condition that involve participants from different fields. But can the border in between art and activism be blurred more? Could it be involving yet aesthetical? Aren’t we all activists? What are other ways of activism in addition what we are used to think? And what is the change we are after? The nuclear power plant in Pyhäjoki is a concrete project that connects many aspects from NGO-activity, politics, local and global economical situation to energy production and consumption expectations as well as decreasing natural resources.
The local situation in Pyhäjoki, and the planned nuclear power plant, is a case example for the workshop. People have formed strong opinions about the plant. The small community in the area has divided into those who are for and those who are against the power plant project. The aim of the expedition is to familiarise well with the current conditions in Pyhäjoki and try to collaborate with the local community, although many questions may be raised with are not easy. Could art work in between the two polarised opinions about the power plant? What kind of political process leads to the power plant plan? What does it mean to a small, agricultural community like Pyhäjoki or Ostrobothnia area? What does it mean at the national and global level? Can nuclear power mitigate climate change? Does nuclear power make Finland energy independent? What are the alternatives to nuclear power i.e. zero growth or new means of renewable energy production etc? Pyhäjoki is an excellent case study during the times of continuing ecological, social and economical crisis of the different path choices which humankind can take in order to flourish.
The first days of the expedition are for discussions, presentations (both local, national and international researchers, activists and artists), getting to know the area and its’ people with trips and excursions. The rest of the days are dedicated for independent or group work that can lead to e.g. a project demo, plan, performance, artistic action tools, discussion event, intervention etc. locally or creating overall action structures that can be implemented elsewhere. There will be a final public presentation and if needed a small exhibition for demos, ideas and documentations in the end of this production workshop. The aim is to have something concrete in our hands in the end to continue the work in the future.
The presentations by different experts during the workshop are open to public.
Please send your letter of motivation to Mari Keski-Korsu mkk[-at-]katastro.fi by 5th of May 2013.
Case Pyhäjoki -project covers the participants travel, accommodation and per diems. There is also a possibility for documentation fee in the end. We will accommodate in a cozy Holiday Village Kielosaari / www.kielosaari.fi and utilise some other spaces in Pyhäjoki.
The travel dates are 31st of July and 12th of August.
The selected participants will be contacted in the beginning of May 2013.
ORGANISERS AND SUPPORT
Case Pyhäjoki was initiated by artist Mari Keski-Korsu and is now a collaboration in between artist-organiser and researcher Andrew Paterson/Pixelache, musician and artist Antye Greie-Ripatti/Hai Art, Finnish Bioart Society and Pro Hanhikivi. Please read more about the organisers in the end of this e-mail.
The actual building location of the nuclear power plant is Hanhikivi Cape. 65% of the area is nature preservation with rich marine flora and fauna. It is also a rare land lifting shore where the land is still rising up from the sea due to processes of the last Ice age. There is no industry or energy production at the cape. The infrastructure for the nuclear power plant will be build as new in a so called greenfield location. Even thought the building of the plant will last for years, we are living the last moments to experience Hanhikivi as it is now. More information at http://www.hanhikivi.net
The nuclear power plant is hoped to bring prosperity to the local community but there are still many people against the building plan. People are scared to loose their land, homes and all the risks the nuclear power production brings. Recently, the company responsible of the project Fennovoima Oy announced the plan to store the nuclear waste materials also at the Pyhäjoki plant, as the Finnish long-term nuclear waste material storage ‘Olkiluoto/Onkalo’ may not be able to store all the country’s nuclear waste. In autumn 2012, the German energy company E-on resigned from the Pyhäjoki Nuclear Power Plant project. It was the biggest investor in the project and was considered to have the best know-how of the building process. Other international nuclear energy partners have been approached to replace E-on.
The biggest town close to Pyhäjoki is Raahe and the neighbouring municipalities including Pyhäjoki have been very much dependent on one big employer, steel factory Rautaruukki Oy, established in Raahe in 1960. It was seen as an answer to economical despair after the local shipping companies declined, and now that Rautaruukki has been laying off people. Hence, the nuclear power plant is seen to bring new jobs and basically repeat the economic promise that Rautaruukki brought to the area previously. Another point of view is also that the plant can produce energy for the needs of the steel factory. www.raahe.fi www.pyhajoki.fi
MORE INFO ABOUT THE ORGANISERS AND PARTNERS
Mari Keski-Korsu (Artist, initiator of the project, organiser, born in Raahe)
Mari Keski-Korsu (mkk) is an transdisciplinary artist. She explores how ecological and socio-economical changes manifest in people’s everyday life. Her works have a political nature with a humorous twist. The basis of the work is in location, a place and people’s relations to it. Keski-Korsu started her artistic career with photography and then started to work with internet live streaming in the mid 1990′. This lead her to work with live video visualisations as well as net and video art, interventions, documentary, installations and location based art. She is interested in relations in between art, politics and science. The works has been exhibited in Europe and in several other countries around the world. She collaborates with artist groups, scientists as well as organises and curates different types of projects. www.artsufartsu.net
Pixelache (Contact person and participating artist Andrew Paterson)
Pixelache, based in Helsinki, is a transdisciplinary platform for experimental art, design, research and activism. Amongst our fields of interest are: experimental interaction and electronics; renewable energy production/use; bioarts and art-science culture; grassroot organising and networks; politics and economics of media/technology; alternative economy cultures; VJ culture and audiovisual performances; media literacy and engaging environmental issues. Pixelversity, its outreach and education programme since 2010, aims to be a ‘learning bridge’ between practitioners, cultural and non-profit organisations, interested individuals and larger institutions, and an outreach programme extending beyond Helsinki. Consideration is given to the relationships between the different activities, and how they may build up accumulative knowledge and skills towards future Pixelache events. The Case Pyhäjoki project is part of the Pixelversity 2013 programme’s ‘Techno-ecologies’ theme. pixelache.ac/pixelversity
Hai Art (Contact person and participating artist Antye Greie-Ripatti, director of Hai Art)
Hai Art is an artist ran international art platform with focus on contemporary art forms such as new media, sound art, environmental, ecological and participatory arts with crossover to science and education to intertwine international and local programs in Hailuoto/ Finland. The main activities of Hai Art include public sound choir KAIKU, international The Wilderness Art Conference, national and international artist residencies as well as courses and workshops for children and youth. Hai Art occupies unused spaces, beaches, a ferry, forests, fields and public spaces etc. in Hailuoto. www.haiart.net
The Finnish Bioart Society (Contact person Erich Berger)
The Finnish Bioart Society, established May 2008 in Kilpisjärvi, is an organisation supporting, producing and creating activities around art and natural sciences, especially biology. The Finnish Bioart Society is creating public discussions about biosciences, biotechnologies and bioethics. Additionally it is the Finnish contact node in international networks of bioart and art&science. The Finnish Bioart Society has currently 60 members, representing different art and research fields and other expertise – bioart, theatre, film, music, video, performance art, art&science, fine arts, media art, sculpture, environmental art, design, zoology, botany, ecology, environmental sciences, animal physiology, genetics, philosophy, cultural production, art history, engineering, etc. www.bioartsociety.fi
Pro Hanhikivi Ry (Contact person Hanna Halmeenpää)
Pro Hanhikivi is a non-governmental organisation found in 2007 at Parhalahti village to preserve Hanhikivi Bay as a nuclear power free nature and amenity area. The organisation has 300 members (autumn 2012). Pro Hanhikivi activists collaborate with the officials both in Finland and in EU, organise Hanhikivi Days festival and other smaller event as well as try to affect in many ways to stop the nuclear power plant plan in Pyhäjoki. www.prohanhikivi.net
“Today, the convergence of global networks, online databases, and new tools for location-based mapping coincides with a resurgence of interest in walking as an art form. In Walking and Mapping, Karen O’Rourke explores …a series of walking/mapping projects by contemporary artists. Some chart “emotional GPS”; some use GPS for creating “datascapes” while others use their legs to do “speculative mapping.” Many work with scientists, designers, and engineers.”
Contemporary artists beginning with Guy Debord and Richard Long have returned again and again to the walking motif. Debord and his friends tracked the urban flows of Paris; Long trampled a path in the grass and snapped a picture of the result (A Line Made by Walking). Mapping is a way for us to locate ourselves in the world physically, culturally, or psychologically; Debord produced maps like collages that traced the “psychogeography” of Paris.
O’Rourke offers close readings of these works—many of which she was able to experience firsthand—and situates them in relation to landmark works from the past half-century. She shows that the infinitesimal details of each of these projects take on more significance in conjunction with others. Together, they form a new entity, a dynamic whole greater than the sum of its parts. By alternating close study of selected projects with a broader view of their place in a bigger picture, Walking and Mapping itself maps a complex phenomena.
This book sounds absolutely gorgeous – “subjective science” is my new faovurite discipline. Reminded me of A Field Guide to Getting Lost which I must also read someday… (Ed.)
“Walking and Mapping is a veritable trove of generative ideas systematically unearthed as a ‘subjective science’ for inspired modes of engagement with the ground of everyday life. From Oulipian Pataphysics and Lettrist drift to Stalkers traversing the periphery of Rome, and from artists tracing Mexican and Moroccan border and immigration routes to microscopic landscapes and Intifada checkpoints, O’Rourke’s book is a landmark contribution to authentic countercultural thinking.”
—Kristine Stiles, France Family Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Duke University
“Karen O’Rourke clearly has wide knowledge of the field and has provided a valuable and informative book. Walking and Mapping brings together, in an intelligent fashion, the state of the art in walking artistic practice. I am sure that for many readers it will be an engaging volume that will spark lots of new ideas.”
—Martin Dodge, Geography Department, The University of Manchester, and coauthor of Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life
“In Walking and Mapping, Karen O’Rourke links the ‘territories’ of art and cartography. Other works have addressed this as a series of conference-delivered chapters, but Walking and Mapping provides a detailed investigation of the topic—from the artist’s perspective.”
—William Cartwright, School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences, RMIT University
Berlin has a rich and long-standing tradition of women engaged in the fields of media arts, media activism and digital culture. Today over half of Berlin’s independent project spaces and initiatives revolving around the themes of tech, media and digital culture are run by women. A broad range of female curators and activists continue to shape net politics – initiating independent programmes, hosting events and leading research at Berlin’s universities.
Despite this large female contingent, and in a city where the workforce is generally evenly distributed, it is at odds that the theoretical discourse on media art and net activism, executive roles and directorships, as well panelists and participants at events and festivals, are still male-dominated. In a forward-thinking city like Berlin, this ongoing gap should be addressed so that the wider fields of media arts and activism are fully inclusive of the multitude of female skills and viewpoints on offer.
At this event, SUPERMARKT highlights and showcases some of the women who have played an important role in shaping the profile of Berlin as a digital culture city. We will learn more about their history, career paths, and the narratives of their work and life. Ten inspiring women in the field will join us, and answer questions against the backdrop of their own lives and careers, including what drives them to continue the work they do, what have been the crucial moments of their careers, and who are their professional mentors, support networks, and inspirations.” Ela Kagel & Michelle O’Brien
I was thrilled to see and hear ten amazing women take the stage at SUPERMARKT last week to share their perspective on working in the media and culture sector. The event had a great buzz and drew a wide audience, as diverse and happening as the women speaking. Ela Kagel and Michelle O’Brien curated the evening with a deft touch, having provided the framework for each speaker to contextualise their own practice by thinking through questions of motivation and key moments. The responses to this provocation ranged from the necessary historical contextualisation of career highlights to intriguing, poetic and subtle approaches, exploring personal stories and reflections through a selection of quotes.
Tatiana Bazzichelli spoke about her varied professional facets, being too radical for the academics, too artistic for the radicals, and too academic for the artists, while Kathy Rae Huffman enumerated her significant and internationally influential career highlights in curating video and media art from the 70s up until today, offering an insight into her practice through the excellent reading list that she discussed (in follow-up discussion a member of the audience has requested that this also be made available). One of the key points made by speakers in many of the talks was the necessity to jump in and figure things out for yourself, or to “learn by doing”, not wait to become an expert.
There was no discernible antagonism towards the male dominated world, as this was the case with many of the speakers who had often been the only woman in the room at work or speaking on stage at professional events – but rather all highlighted their strategy of responding to challenges and getting on with the job to hand as the most effective form of action. Michelle Thorne spoke about her love of soccer, and how the sport gave her physical confidence and a different understanding of her body, operating from a position of strength and power. The celebration of their peers and support network was also a positive influence at Mount Holyoke, all-women university. Her mission statement was to figure it out and do it – don’t wait until you have the answers or training. Don’t be afraid to fail! (“Fail more, fail better” – called out someone in the audience. “Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. Samuel Beckett”)
All three initiators of the Faces mailing list (Kathy Rae Huffman, Diana McCarty, Valie Djordjevic) spoke about their experiences in the 90’s and how the need for the women focused list became apparent, both sharing and creating opportunities, network and exchange of ideas, information and resources for women working with art and media. It can definitely be a boys club, and every one of the women speaking and in the room is testament to how much that has changed, and how far it still needs to go before there is gender equality. The discussion was agile and lively without falling into the murky waters of complaining about the situation but finding ways to address the needs and roles that women can play in creating and theorising and promoting and facilitating all forms of media and culture. The evening also raised an interesting question of the distinction between a “female perspective” and a “feminist” one, as while some of the women identified as feminist, not all did. This gave the conversation a interesting take, as the speakers and audience maintained a broad spectrum of interests, which was not mainly focused on issues of gender but on the desire to meet and explore the challenges of creating satisfying work in a richly diverse range of contexts.
In this event, it made sense to talk about the personal experiences behind these voices, however I hope this is a stepping stone to taking the conversation further and deeper into their actual work. This critique is not directed at the organisers per se but is a wider cultural concern, is that while it’s amazing to see so many incredible women in one place talking about their work, I would love to have this taking place simply because the work they do is powerful, important, fantastic, relevant and highly influential… not because they are women. A comment by one of the men present was that in his 25 years of experience, even with gender equality on a panel or in an exhibition, it was still the male voices that tend to dominate. I think the evening provided an excellent opportunity for women’s experiences to be heard and discussed, but this needs to become a far more “normal” enterprise, without having the framing as “women’s experience” but as experiences, from a range of professional and personal perspectives.
Ela Kagel responded to this point: “I can understand your critique, that we referred to our presenters as being female as the prime criteria for showcasing them. But of course we selected them for being brilliant, inspiring and influential in the first place. And yes, we wanted to present women, because the public image of Berlin as a digital culture city is still much more tied to the men working in that field. I think it’s really about time to reassess this image! And as much as we wish for a world in which we don’t need events like ours, we just have to acknowledge the fact that there is still a huge gender imbalance out there – and this is a structural problem. I think we can’t address this often enough.
We have been working quite a while to get this invitation text together and to frame everything in an interesting and challenging way. And we knew that it would still raise questions – but questions and comments are of course very welcome in that context.”
Michelle O’Brien comments: “I would also reverse this point and say it was a specific and intentional celebration of powerful and influential females in the industry. We could have removed the ‘female perspective’ part of the title, simply calling it a showcase of prominent figures within Berlin’s Media Art Community and inviting the same 10 female speakers, and perhaps this would have attracted a different audience (with possibly more males!), but I feel this would not adequately represent the topic at hand. The focus highlighted the specific achievements these individuals have made, as women in a male-dominated industry, and the powers and social/political structures they have overcome, and continue to push against on a daily basis to do their work, whether or not they specifically identify as ‘feminists’.”
Diana McCarty talked with great passion and humour about the revolutionary aspects of women working in radio & media, particular focus on the film program that she curated in New Mexico. Playing excerpts while she spoke of the 1983 feminist science fiction classic “Born in Flames”, directed by Lizzie Borden which explores a hypothetical New York society, ten years after the successful socialist revolution. Radio plays a large part in both the film plot and in Diana’s work significantly with reboot fm. If there was ever a women’s army, I would sign up if Diana will lead it!
“Think Big” are the words Lisa Lang wrote in her notebook while studying – and she made a point of showing her process through the exploration of ideas (and lists) in her notebooks. “I wrote it down and it echoed inside me, and I owned it” she explained, and I understood completely the conviction with which she expressed this concept. The act of writing does both ingrain something inside you, and invoke a power with those words, allowing you to live their fullest expression.
Having fallen in love with Australia while studying there, Lisa wanted to stay longer and was discouraged to find that it wasn’t officially possible – until someone suggested that she didn’t need to play by the rules. “Hack the system” became another maxim to live by, and in the event she did manage to wrangle another six months of her studies, which turned into five years living in OZ. The evangelista for Berlin Geekettes, a collective of women talking tech, she gave for me what was absolutely the most inspiring moment of the night with the following advice. Talking about her attempts to find work after she finished studying, and realising that whatever she was doing just wasn’t working, this affirmative wisdom is taken from“What Colour is your Parachute?” the job hunting manual she read in a more desperate time: “Define yourself. Decide what you want to do and with whom you want to do it.” Excellent, don’t wait for someone else to choose you or tell you what you are capable of – make it up, get out there and make it happen!
Finally, Andrea Goetzke of newthinking, gave us her summary with ten key quotes. She apologised for all but one of them being by men “so beat me up for that later” – a squeamish moment when the tension between the feminist principles and their lived experience was played out, although with no violent repercussions. “It’s about creating a space that wouldn’t really exist otherwise!” is the first, and she discussed the moment of realising the value of creating spaces where people gather around shared interests. The second memorable quote concerned the value of coming to things with a fresh eye, to learn while doing and take and open approach – be naïve and a beginner.
“Enjoy life and create and enjoyable moment for others,” Andrea concluded, and that is exactly what the SUPERMARKT and all the women who spoke and attended have done and will continue to do….
Images courtesy of SUPERMARKT
Tatiana Bazzichelli is a researcher, networker and curator, working in the field of hacktivism and net culture. She is part of the transmediale festival team, where she develops the year-round project ‘reSource transmedial culture berlin’. She is Postdoc researcher at Leuphana University of Lüneburg, as part of the Innovation Incubator / Centre for Digital Cultures, and the Institute for Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media, Faculty of Cultural Studies. She is Affiliated Researcher at Aarhus University (DK), where she received a PhD in Information and Media Studies (2011), conducting research on disruptive art in the business of social media, published with the title: “Networked Disruption. Rethinking Oppositions in Art, Hacktivism and the Business of Social Networking” (2013). She wrote the book “Networking. La rete come arte | The Net as Artwork” (2006). In 2001, Tatiana founded the AHA:Activism-Hacking-Artivism networking platform. She organised exhibitions and events such as Hack.it.art (2005), HackMit! (2007), CUM2CUT (2006-2008), and HACK.Fem.EAST (2008) in Berlin, Rome, and other European cities. networkingart.eu | disruptiv.biz | transmediale.de
Valie Djordjevic is an editor at iRights.info, a website about copyright in the digital age, and lecturer on the topics of digital writing, social media and copyright for private and public institutions. She is active in the digital world since 1996, e.g. as member of Internationale Stadt Berlin, one of the first net culture projects in Germany or mikro e.V., a Berlin based association examining the different facets of media culture. She is a co-moderator and administrator (together with Diana McCarty, Kathy Rae Huffman and Ushi Reiter) of the mailing list Faces, one of the first lists for women working with art and media. valid.de | irights.info | mikro.org | faces-l.net
Andrea Goetzke is a Berlin-based cultural producer, curator and organizer. For many years, she has worked in different contexts on issues of free culture, open source, digital and music culture, ranging from projects supporting open source software in African countries to initiating the openeverything Berlin events. With all2gethernow, she organizes activities looking for new strategies in music culture and business. She is part of newthinking, an agency that works at the interfaces of open source and digital technologies with culture and society. Andrea organizes music events, and hosts a regular radio show on free culture on reboot.fm. all2gethernow.de | newthinking.de | reboot.fm
Kathy Rae Huffman is a freelance curator, networker and media art collector currently based in Berlin. She has held curatorial posts at the Long Beach Museum of Art, The ICA Boston, and Cornerhouse, Manchester. She has written about, consulted for, presented special programs and coordinated events for a variety of international festivals and organisations. Her research focuses around issues of female environments in the Internet, and the history of artists’ television. Kathy co-founded the international online community for women media artists FACES: Gender/Technology/Art (with Diana McCarty and Valie Djordjevic) in 1997. Her current curatorial project is an exhibition of the late Nan Hoover’s video, performance and photography. She curated Exchange and Evolution: Worldwide Video Long Beach, 1974-1999, a retrospective exhibition of international video, for the Long Beach Museum of Art, (in 2011). The exhibition and research was supported by the Getty Research Institute as part of Pacific Standard Time. She was international curator for ISEA2009, Belfast; and project curator for Transitland: Video art from Central and Eastern Europe 1989-2009. Huffman received an MFA in Exhibition Design from California State University Long Beach in 1980, where she also completed the graduate course in Museum Studies. faces-l.net
Claudia Kefer works as an innovation intermediary and strategic consultant in the field of art, culture and educational contexts. She holds a MA degree in Communication in Social and Economic Contexts from the UdK Berlin. During the mid nineties she graduated in Communication Design at the GSO University of Applied Science in Nürnberg, at a time when Germany was a pre-web market, the ambiguity between a analogue and a digital world became a core issue of her work. During her early nineties experience of “Zwischennutzkultur” in Germany, Kefer began freelancing, co-working and co-thinking before it became a facet of a broader lifestyle or an educated instrument of urban and economic development. She is a team member of the SLEEPING GIRL JOINT VENTURE, an independent art-house film reflecting the early days of video art in Germany, told through the lens of a ‘boy meets girl’ story. Currently she is focused on a research project titled MESHING-BERLIN which will be introduced at re:publica 13. claudiakefer.de | dasschlafendemaedchen.de
Julia Kloiber is currently working as a project lead for the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, an NGO working within the field of transparency and open data. She holds a Bachelors degree in Information Design and a Masters in New Media and Digital Culture from Utrecht University. She has worked for Women Make Movies in New York City and for Platoon Cultural Development in Berlin. Julia’s main fields of interest are netpolitics, open data, interactive design and art. okfn.org
Lisa Lang is a born networker and problem solver. Some also use the word “whip-cracker” in the same sentence with her name but she prefers the description “traffic light”. She’s the head of products Sourcefabric, an independent organisation promoting quality journalism and providing open source tools, including Newscoop, Booktype, Airtime and Superdesk; Evangelista for BerlinGeekettes collective of women talking tech, and is finishing off her MBA in the coming year. linkedin.com/in/lilaworks | berlingeekettes.com | sourcefabric.org
Tina Mariane Krogh Madsen holds a Master of Arts in Art History (Aarhus University, Denmark) with a focus on internet art, digital media and performance studies, where she wrote her Master Thesis with the title “Keeping Ephemerality Alive – Preserving the Dynamic Materiality of Net Art”. Tina works as an independent curator on projects in the field of internet art, live art practices, interactive media and online performance. During 2012 she curated and coordinated the online exhibition website for internet art: Net.Specific, for Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde, Denmark and Net.Specific’s first exhibition Communication Paths that was launched in October 2012. tmkm.dk/about.html | netspecific.net/en
Diana McCarty was born and raised in New Mexico and has lived in Europe since 1993 – Budapest in 90’s and Berlin in the 2000s. Her work revolves around art, politics and new/old media. Currently, Diana is working with radio and revolutionaries: mostly reboot.fm, radia.fm, Bolshevik women, and experimental film. A long time ago, she was part of the International Women’s University server development team (with Seda Gürses, Barbara Schelkle, Prof. Heidi Schelhowe, and Heiki Pfisch), and also worked to develop feminist pedagogical approaches to learning technology. In the mid-nineties, she co-founded Nettime (with Geert Lovink, Pit Schultz, a.o.) and the Faces Mailing list (with Kathy Rae Huffman, Valie Djordjevic & Ushi Reiter), and as part of the Media Research Foundation, co-organized the MetaForum Conference Series in Budapest (with Janos Sugar and Geert Lovink). Diana was a co-founder of Mikro e.V. and the now defunct bootlab. Her main interests are exploiting social and technological systems for culture and real life. reboot.fm | radia.fm | faces-l.net
Michelle Thorne is an American-born, Berlin-based Creative Commons activist. She holds a BA in Critical Social Thought and German Studies from Mount Holyoke College, USA, where she wrote an honors thesis on authorship, originality, and American copyright law. Michelle grew up in Heidelberg, Germany. She worked as the international project manager for Creative Commons from 2007 to 2011 and joined the Mozilla Foundation as Global Event Strategist in 2011. She is a founding member of the Awesome Foundation Berlin. mozilla.org | awesomefoundation.org
These are prints made on paper that are actual sound recordings. One, from 1806 is the “oldest known inscription of audio ‘waveforms,’ not recorded automatically but drawn by hand”. I have a project on hold with artkillart who first told me about the possibilities of printing an audio record onto paper/card, and finding this today reminded me that we still need to make that work. For now, listen and marvel at this extraordinary archive of audio preserved in book form.
This isn’t just a pretty picture. It’s a bona fide sound recording—a “record.” In fact, it might arguably be the oldest “record” in the world that you can listen to today!
Let me clarify—I don’t mean it’s the world’s oldest sound recording. But nowadays when people use the word “record” colloquially to refer to sound media, they typically mean the specific format that includes LPs, 45s, and 78s—that is, the kinds of grooved disc you’d play on a “record player.” Technically, these “records” are based not on the phonograph Thomas Edison unveiled in 1877, but on the gramophone invented by Emile Berliner in 1887. The gramophone disc dominated the worldwide recording industry for much of the twentieth century and still has currency in the twenty-first, for instance in the art of turntabling. The distinctive crackle of its surface noise is stamped in the popular imagination as the quintessential “old recording” sound.
So what are the oldest known “records” in this sense—that is, the oldest known gramophone recordings, as opposed to the oldest sound recordings in general? The first commercially available gramophone discs were manufactured and released in Europe in the summer of 1890, and numerous examples are available for listening (here, for example). In addition to these, a few experimental gramophone discs from 1887 and 1888 survive at the Smithsonian Institution and elsewhere, but attempts to play these haven’t been very successful, and no intelligible or identifiable content has been recovered from them to date. Finally, some other very old gramophone recordings have come down to us only in the form of prints made on paper,like the one on the fourth floor of Wells Library. This isn’t a unique situation. Many important early motion pictures that didn’t survive in the form of actual films were nevertheless preserved as paper prints deposited for copyright registration purposes with the Library of Congress and later retransferred to film for projection and preservation. Similarly, I’ve found that paper prints of “lost” gramophone recordings can be digitally converted back into playable, audible form.
Some Other Early “Recordings” at IU – Listen to these on their website Here are a few other snippets of audio obtained from high-resolution scans of books in the IU Bloomington Libraries.
Lilly Library: Q113 .Y77 (two copies, one previously owned by Ian Fleming)
Thomas Young, A Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanical Arts(London: Joseph Johnson, 1807), Volume 1, Plate XXV, Fig. 353. Significance: Oldest known inscription of audio “waveforms,” not recorded automatically but drawn by hand. (The book is dated 1807, but the engraving itself is dated 1806.)
Wells Library (oversized): Q1 .S45 n.s.,v.37 1877 “The Talking Phonograph,” Scientific American 37 (December 22, 1877), 384-5, on page 384. Significance: Print made from a plaster cast of a fragment cut from the sample tinfoil recording Thomas Edison used to demonstrate his phonograph for an audience outside his laboratory for the first time. I’ve inserted silences to represent the missing content (which is a majority of it). The direction of recording is anybody’s guess, so what you hear might be played backwards.
Year: 1878 ALF (Geosciences): Q1 .A5 ser.3,v.16 E. W. Blake, Jr., “A method of recording Articulate Vibrations by means of Photography,” American Journal of Science and Arts 116 (July 1878), 54-59, on page 57. Significance: Oldest known publication of a recording of recognizable phrases in the English language (“Brown University”; “How do you do?”); also the oldest known publication of a photographic recording of airborne sounds (Image above)