Activating The Medium XIV : Radio










23five Incorporated, in collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Lab, and SFCinematheque, presents the fourteenth annual Activating The Medium festival.


Thursday, April 7, 2011 : San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Richard Garet (New York)
Jim Haynes & Allison Holt (Berkeley)
presented in conjunction with SFCinematheque


Friday, April 22, 2011 : The Lab
Robert Piotrowicz (Poland)
Wobbly (San Francisco)
Ensemble Economonique (Arcata, California)
Thomas Carnacki (Berkeley)


Saturday, April 23, 2011 : The Lab
Gregg Kowalsky (Oakland)
Vertonen (Chicago)
Byron Westbrook (New York)
Zachary James Watkins (Oakland)


$7 – $15 sliding scale or FREE with membership



Each year, 23five curates Activating The Medium around a specific theme that seeks to underscore the connectivity between artists working with various methods and materials. Previous festivals have explored field recording, mimesis, the architectural impact from sound, and many other concepts and themes. The 2011 festival explores the use of radio through composition and new media presentation. Looking back to the seminal works of Stockhausen, Cage, and Tenney through the culture jamming theatrics of Negativland and into the psychological minimalism of John Duncan, radio has served an invaluable and expressive tool within the continued history of avant-garde composition. Hence, 23five will present works including Richard Garet's grey-noise constructions mined from radio interference and electromagnetic disturbances and Byron Westbrook's multichannel diffusion of live transmission and reception of radio signals. Works such as these will occur over three evenings, with one performance at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, two nights at The Lab in San Francisco.


In addition, 23five will be presenting a radio series of additional works of composers using radio as source material with the intent of this being broadcast by means of radio. Currently, participating stations include KFJC, Radio Valencia (San Francisco), and KPFA. Check the 23five website for continuing details on the Activating The Medium radio series.




Thomas Carnacki is a purloined moniker attached to the recording and performing activities of Berkeley-based Gregory Scharpen, who in turn emerges from the twin factory-farms of theatrical sound design and several tours of duty with the oblique-concrete outfit irr. app. (ext.). Thomas Carnacki has performed on both coasts of the continent, and has convinced a sizable number of luminaries to shed their dignity and participate in the proceedings. The core performing outfit generally includes Jesse Burson, James Kaiser, and Gregory Hagan. Carnacki performances have taken place in festivals such as Project Soundwave and the 2008 Whitney Biennial, and as part of such organisms as the Illuminated Corridor and Neighborhood Public Radio,

Humboldt County citizen Brian Pyle is Ensemble Economique and has also recorded in the Starving Weirdos and RV Paintings. Pyle continues in the long-standing tradition of West Coast experimentalism, merging elements of long-form psychedelia, retrograde electronics, and improvisational strategies. As Ensemble Economique, Pyle has published work through Not Not Fun, Digitalis Recordings, and Amish.


Richard Garet works interweaving multiple media including moving image, sound, live performances, and photography. Garet is interested in the phenomena found and produced in time-based media, and the relationship with both artificial and natural environments. His audiovisual exploratory steps are focused on concept and function, material and process, listening, viewing, and experience. Garet's work has been showcased at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Barcelona), Public Trust Gallery (Dallas), and Experimental Intermedia (New York). His sound compositions have been published through sound based labels such as And-Oar, Non Visual Objects, Winds Measure Recordings, Unframed Recordings, Con-V, Leerraum, White_Line Editions, and Contour Editions.
Garet's performance at SFMOMA will focus on surfaces, gestures, differences, and distances among material and its phenomenology, to activate and amplify expressive sonic manifestations of electromagnetic waves utilizing radio technology.


Describing his work through the pithy phrase, "I rust things," Jim Haynes is an artist who has developed a vocabulary of decay that he has applied to photography, sculpture, installation, and sound. He has exhibited internationally at Electric Works (San Francisco), The Exploratorium (San Francisco), WestSpace (Melbourne, Australia), Jack Straw Productions (Seattle), Eyedrum (Atlanta), Diapason (New York), and The Lab (San Francisco). He has published his work through the Helen Scarsdale Agency, 23five Incorporated, Intransitive, and Elevator Bath.


Allison Holt is a media artist whose work explores, constructs, and visualizes contemporary and traditional systems of knowledge, creating models of hybrid realities through the use of video, sculpture, performance, and diagrams. She has exhibited internationally at such venues as the Cemeti Art House (Indonesia), Axiom Gallery (Cambridge, Massachusetts), and Upgrade!Boston (Melbourne, Australia). Holt was a 2009-2010 J. William Fulbright Fellow in Indonesia.

Haynes and Holt collaborate through a system of dioramas, surveillance cameras, and radio interference for a phantasmagoric presentation of projected image, accumulated sound, and their hybridized detritus.


Gregg Kowalsky resides in Oakland, California where he completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in Electronic Music and Recording Media at Mills College. Kowalsky?s compositions range from drone and noise pieces to meditative psychedelia with minimalist aesthetic. He is best known for his ongoing Tape Chants series, which is made up of performances and compositions using tapes as the main source material as well as the mono speakers of various cassette players for the piece?s amplification. Kowalsky has performed around the globe and has published work through Kranky and Root Strata.


Robert Piotrowicz is the Polish sound artist, composer, and improviser who founded the intermedia organization Musica Genera with Anna Zaradny in 1999. He works mainly with a variable configurations for electronics, analog synthesizer, and guitar within electro-acoustic composition, composition for theater, sound installation, and interdisciplinary art projects. Piotrowicz has developed his signature sound of intense dynamics seized in dramatic and balanced structures. While most of his collaborative projects involve Anna Zaradny, he has also worked with Oren Ambarchi, Jerome Noetinger, Lasse Marhaug, and Kevin Drumm. Piotrowicz's appearance is made possible by the generous support of the Polish Cultural Institute.

Vertonen has been the solo project of Blake Edwards since 1991. Using a wide array of source material, including custom-built pedals, hand altered records, an oversized Russian synthesizer, shortwave radio, and field recordings, his audio explorations have included  musique concrete, drones, harsh noise, and off-kilter lurching rhythms. His most recent work has focused on using dead and dying media to accentuate communication and its various limitations / frequent failings. Edwards has received four City of Chicago arts grants in recognition of his work, and he also runs the experimental music label CIP, releasing works by both new and well-known artists including Z?EV, Leticia Castaneda, Wolf Eyes, Joe Colley, and Brutum Fulmen.


Zachary James Watkins is a California based sound artist, whose work investigates the rich area of resonance. Watkins explores harmonic series, live electronics, site-specific resonant spaces and the spatial diffusion of sound sources to achieve rich, saturated environments. With degrees in composition from The Cornish School and Mills College, he has received commissions from Cornish, The Microscores Project, The Beam Foundation, Somnubutone, the sfSoundGroup and the Seattle Chamber Players. His works have been presented in numerous festivals across the United States, Mexico and Germany including the 2009 Klankunstfest, the 2006 International Computer Music Conference, the 10th Annual Music For People and Thingamajigs Festival and the second Biennial SJ01 Global Festival of Arts on the Edge.


Byron Westbrook (b. 1977) is an artist working with the dynamic quality of physical space using multi-channel sound and images. His audio/video performances under the name CORRIDORS involve the distribution of processed instrumental and environmental recordings through a multi-channel environment with a focus on energy distilled from sound and light. He has presented at venues such as Tonic, Roulette, The Stone, Diapason Gallery, Issue Project Room, Experimental Intermedia, Exit Art Gallery, (NYC), Les Voûtes (FR), Wien Konzerthaus (Austria), O' (Milano), Cave12 (Geneva), NonEvent (Boston), Sonic Circuits Festival (DC), Institute of Intermedia (CZ). Westbrook has also performed in the ensembles of Phill Niblock, Rhys Chatham, Glenn Branca, Duane Pitre, David Watson and Jonathan Kane. He has worked as technical coordinator of Phill Niblock's Experimental Intermedia Foundation since 2004. In 2007, he was the recipient of the Jerome Foundation Emerging Artists Commission through Roulette Intermedium. In 2008 he was an artist in residence at Hotel Pupik at Sclhoss Schrattenberg. In 2010 he was an artist in residence at Diapason Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. A CD of CORRIDORS was released in 2010 on Sedimental Records. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

For this appearance at Activating the Medium, Westbrook will present multichannel work that incorporates sonic elements broadcast to multiple radio receivers which are held and passed around by the audience. Sounds sent to these receiver/speakers will interact with each other as well as with stationary sounds positioned in the room, allowing the audience to help determine the outcome of the performance.  


The studio has been the instrument used to produce the bulk of our popular music for over a half-century, yet it is an instrument which stubbornly resists being brought onto the concert stage. Even as software makes studio techniques available to live improvisers, it obscures the process and disconnects the performer's movements from the resulting sounds. Improvising entirely with pre-recorded sounds like a DJ with several thousand turntables, Wobbly has been the inadvertent psuedonym of Jon Leidecker since 1990, and he still performs live without a laptop so you can actually see what he's doing.  A recording is different every single time it's played back, and for both performer and audience, music only exists in the instant that you're listening.


Wobbly has released albums on Illegal Art, Phthalo, Tigerbeat 6, and Important. He has collaborated and recorded with Matmos, People Like Us, Thomas Dimuzio, Anne McGuire, Negativland, Tim Perkis, Antimatter, Blevin Blectum, Lesser, Otomo Yoshihide, Zeena Parkins, MaryClare Brzytwa, Hrvatski and Huun-Huur-Tu.  He is also gradually updating the eight episode online podcast on the history of collage music 'Variations', commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona.


Founded in 1993, 23five Incorporated is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development and increased awareness of sound works in the public arena, and to the support and education of artists working with and discussing the medium of sound. For the past 15 years, 23five Incorporated has remained at the forefront in bringing the most adventurous elements of sound art to the San Francisco Bay area. 23five has served as an important benefactor to artists such as CM von Hausswolff, Christina Kubisch, Francisco Lopez, Olivia Block, Matt  Jeckert, Zbigniew Karkowski, Atau Tanaka, and many more.