Come on, feel the noise Matthew Chase-Daniel

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - — Michael Abatemarco

Af­ter lo­cal artist Matthew Chase-Daniel saw the movie Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, a biopic on the Canadian pi­anist, some­thing about the mu­si­cian’s in­ner world stayed with him. “It was one film, but it was bro­ken into sec­tions,” Chase-Daniel told Pasatiempo. “And they do this in the film: He hears the re­frig­er­a­tor, he hears a con­ver­sa­tion, and he hears the cars go­ing by, and he hears some lit­tle scratch­ing noise. It builds and builds and builds un­til it be­comes this cacophony in his head and he’s hav­ing trou­ble with his men­tal health. There’s so much in­put all the time, and we sort of tune that out in or­der to sur­vive in the world.”

Chase-Daniel’s Ra­dio­th­ing, a new-me­dia in­stal­la­tion for Cur­rents, has noth­ing to do with Gould per se, but it does ap­prox­i­mate what it might be like to ex­pe­ri­ence au­di­tory in­put without any fil­ters and then ac­tively en­gage those fil­ters to zero in on spe­cific sounds. Ra­dio­th­ing is a wall-mounted grid of 35 2-inch ra­dios with tuners on one side and speak­ers on the other. Each ra­dio is tuned to a dif­fer­ent FM fre­quency. Chase-Daniel chose the num­ber of ra­dios based on how many sta­tions he could pick up at El Museo Cul­tural de Santa Fe, where Ra­dio­th­ing is in­stalled. “It’s fairly un­bear­able,” he said. “It’s not about a beau­ti­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s more about bring­ing to the fore what is here any­way but our bod­ies can’t re­ally sense. Ev­ery­where you are, there are ra­dio waves.”

Chase-Daniel, one half of the team that makes up Axle Con­tem­po­rary, has been work­ing with Cur­rents, along with his Axle part­ner Jerry Well­man, for as long as the duo’s mo­bile gallery has been around, but Ra­dio­th­ing is his third solo project for the fes­ti­val. It’s the first sound piece he’s done since 2003’s Aether Fest in Albuquerque, an ex­hibit of ra­dio art spon­sored by the Har­wood Art Cen­ter and other or­ga­ni­za­tions. “My piece in Aether Fest was a ra­dio that I tuned to one sta­tion, and I en­cased it in a block of con­crete. You couldn’t change the vol­ume. Some­times it was fuzzy, and some­times you could hear some­thing. So Ra­dio­th­ing is some­what re­lated to that.”

The ex­pe­ri­ence of lis­ten­ing to Ra­dio­th­ing — a lit­eral wall of sound — can be dis­turb­ing be­cause of the dis­cor­dance of hear­ing 35 ra­dios at once. But de­pend­ing on where you stand in re­la­tion to speak­ers that are all set at an equal vol­ume, you can pick up a snip­pet of song or phrase or maybe part of a news broad­cast. The in­ten­tion is not to oblit­er­ate in­di­vid­ual sounds, which get sub­sumed by the din, but to de­ci­pher them and per­haps as­cribe some per­sonal mean­ing to which­ever sounds dom­i­nate.

Ra­dio­th­ing is low tech com­pared to some of what shows at Cur­rents, but Chase-Daniel’s focus is not on the razzle-dazzle. “I’m not a huge technophile,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of savvy of how to make things like that. I don’t have a lot of in­ter­est in that. I find of­ten that new me­dia can be like Photoshop. Some­one gets Photoshop, and they have a blue sky, and they put light­ning bolts through it and all this ‘look what I can do’ stuff. Of­ten it’s not com­pelling. At Cur­rents ev­ery year I find at least one piece that’s com­pelling and in­ter­est­ing. In any sort of new me­dia piece I’ve done, I al­ways try to make it im­me­di­ate and sen­sory.”

Ra­dio­th­ing, a new-me­dia in­stal­la­tion, shows at El Museo Cul­tural de Santa Fe from Fri­day, June 10, to June 26.

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