Wednesday 10 May 2023

'Asphyxia: The "Idiote", the Library Wifi and the Suppressed Safe'

At 6pm today (Wednesday 10th May) Resonance Extra will begin a regular episodic version of what was originally a single 22-hour radio show commissioned by Radio Art Zone: 'Asphyxia: The "Idiote", the Library Wifi and the Suppressed Safe'.

Late in 2022 I was commissioned by Radio Art Zone to be a part of their epic 100-day radio art project.  Radio Art Zone was conceived by Sarah Washington and Knut Aufermann as a radio station - without any interrupting adverts - relaying massive radio shows internationally, and streaming online.  The length of each 22-hour contribution meant that listeners were plunged deep into sound-worlds, grasping at whatever radiophonic cues were at hand to ascertain contexts, acoustical conditions, geographical locations, themes, or narrative arcs (if any).

I titled my show 'Asphyxia' in anticipation of the suffocating atmosphere that'd likely pervade when smothered by a single person's 22-hours.  Many other Radio Art Zone participants minimised the threat of asphyxia by infusing the oxygen of the outside world - e.g. Chris Weaver (fellow Oscillatorial Binnage member) produced 'Rushy Green Tape Exchange' - 22 hours of cassette diary exchanges with improv artist Adam Bohman, spanning continents in their scope; or more explicitly 'Body Edit Mind' by Milo Thesiger-Meacham saw a vast amount of obscure media found online interspersed with real-life recordings testing the limits of editability.

I confess to not having heard many of the other 22-hour shows in full, and I doubt any listener absorbed my contribution beyond a mere dip.  The new Resonance Extra broadcasts of 'Asphyxia: The "Idiote", the Library Wifi and the Suppressed Safe', commencing today, offer more manageable regular one-hour timeslots.

More properly, 'Asphyxia' refers to the all-too-familiar dynamics that condemn things to obscurity. (Incidentally, I have supplied a text on this theme for an upcoming book published by Radio Art Zone's Sarah and Knut, release date TBC).

The show is described as "a damaged would-be radio documentary exploring the Narnia of restricted access material with its wedded themes of suspicion, gatekeeping, conspiracy, frustration, and the maddening infinite regress that emerges wherever information is suppressed.  It is a journey into the inner turmoil of being forestalled; namely, a condition electronic composer Daphne Oram termed 'mismatched impedance'; - where vocation is thwarted, heralding the onset of emotional disturbance as one's energies are clipped and distorted."

The "Library Wifi" refers to the 'hackable' streams of data passing through The British Library's network, whilst the "Suppressed Safe" is the British Library's restricted access material.  Overshadowing all this is my controversial "work where you like" practice whereby I trespass into workplaces where I've been denied employment to "volunteer" my services to prove my employability. The "Idiote" signifies the person in the street, as opposed to the "Clubman" - the patriarch in-the-know; two terms crystallised in the Edwardian era by paranoid ex-accountant turned amateur etymologist, Marcus Stanley Chambers (aka "Exact Thinker"), who wrote scathingly of uncooperative national institutions withholding (supposedly) secret knowledge on the origin of language.

Marcus S. Chambers' illustration

There is an undercurrent of thwarted research and wasted energies throughout the series. Abused necks - seats of human voice - are given special attention in today's first episode - anatomical points of interest in the work of Marcus S. Chambers, and his anarchist, masonic-secret-exposing counterpart Sydney Hanson (with his DIY printing press). These authors are part of an ongoing research project I'd started as long ago as 2006, but ironically I found no willing outlets to publish anything, leading me to wonder half-heartedly whether there really was a conspiracy of silence around their findings. The present-day obscurity of their work forms a self-fulfilling prophecy about the suppression of knowledge (and opportunity), lending much unease, mystery, and squirms to outmanoeuvre "crank" vibes throughout the show.

If the aforementioned makes any sense at all, it should shed light on the many hindrances and impoverishments that have curtailed my activities of late (and others too, I note - the cost of living is crippling), hence lack of posts here lately.  Yet this in itself is interesting, and it's worthwhile to make a study of the factors at play, identifying solutions, etc., continuing the ongoing theme of 'thwarted histories' on this blog and elsewhere.

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