Receiver recognises the increasingly vibrant developments within contemporary art practice that uses experimental sound and broadcast, as well as highlighting the renewed importance of these mediums to connect communities in the digital age.
This group exhibition at Focal Point Gallery, Big Screen Southend and Southend Pier brings together four artists who consider sound in relation to innovative technologies, placemaking and environmental concerns. It explores Essex’s historic and current relationship with broadcasting pioneering audio technologies, the movement of people and cultures, and the unique soundscapes of its coastline and estuaries.
This project builds upon FPG Sounds, a year-long online commissioning project begun in Autumn 2021 to support the development of original sound works by practitioners based in South Essex. Together these acknowledge Southend’s long and rich history of innovators working across sound, from the development of Ekco radio to its alternative music scene. In conjunction with this exhibition, Southend’s Central Museum will celebrate the centenary of Ekco Radio (opening 24th November 2022) with a display of their original radio and television cabinets, some of which were commissioned from famous architects such as Serge Chermayeff and Wells Coates.
Four new commissions by the following artists will respond to key themes.
Appau Jr Boayke-Yiadom will create a listening space where people will be welcome to bring along music in a wide range of audio media (vinyl, tape, CD, MP3) to play in the gallery, inviting visitors to listen back to music they love, have not heard in a while or eager to share. The material shared by viewers will form a soundscape played within the space throughout the exhibition, generating an organic, ever-growing playlist where each track shared will be added and incorporated into a compilation mix. A microphone will also be in the space creating opportunity for live sessions and listening events.
This project reflects on how sound sonically reaches us in unexpected ways, as well as its ability to create and change culture. Southend-on-Sea’s rich and widely established sonic history is an example of a place where marginalised voices have created communities and spaces where they can hear themselves and effect the shape of the mainstream music culture in Britain. Boayke-Yiadom works across multimedia installation and performance to create installations with multi-layered references, highlighting cultural collision.
As an extension of his FPG Sounds commission ‘Hidden Sounds of Play’, Frazer Merrick will create an installation of sound-modulated-light using field recordings from seaside resorts all along the Essex coastline; Walton, Clacton, Jaywick, Mersea and Southend. These recordings will modulate an array of fairground lights which the audience can explore using a handheld solar panel to convert the light back to sound and hear Merrick’s recordings of arcades, fairgrounds and illuminations. Merrick is a sound artist who uses field recording, circuit bending and instrument building to create carnivalesque experiences which explore the act of play.
Joe Namy will make a new sound piece located at Focal Point Gallery and accessed through QR codes along the length of Southend Pier that explores the history of radio in Essex, healing properties of sound waves, and the poetics of resonance. Namy is an artist, educator, and composer, often working collaboratively and across mediums – in sound, performance, photography, text, video, and installation. His projects focus on social constructs of music and organized sound, like the gender dynamics of bass, colours and tones of militarization, and the complexities of translation from language to language, from score to sound, from drum to dance.
Nastassja Simensky will present two related works: a single channel moving image work with 5.1 sound and an ongoing live transmission and publication via amateur radio of Slow Scan TV (SSTV) images and text. The SSTV images will be hosted on a web page and the devices controlling the live transmission will be located at FPG.
Working both collaboratively and as an individual, Simensky uses moving image, writing, music, performance and fieldwork as a way to explore a material understanding of politics and history in relation to place. Over the last two years, Simensky has been working in Bradwell and the Blackwater Estuary making audio recordings using ham radio and a variety of microphones including contact microphones to record vibrations, coil receivers to record electromagnetic signals and hydrophones in the intertidal zones of mud and the estuary itself. This new audio-visual work draws on the history of transmission and broadcasting in Essex and uses radio in the broadest sense to both explore changing land use and as a tool to make moving image work.
Receiver | Press Release