Author: rorywarnock

Final Project – Reconceptualizing the Auditory and Physical Space of Radio

Radio is a particularly important medium, both in terms of it as a sonic space and its placement within the space of the home. The radio has had a long history as a technology that is consumed daily, which for many people continues to be applicable today. The sonic nature of this technology highlights the power of the voice while emphasizing the notion that it is distinct and separate from the body. This misconception of the voice as separate from the body ignores how embodiment exists simultaneously in physical and auditory space. Moreover, the sound of the radio voice contains particular privileges in regards to who is granted the ability to speak within spaces and who are proscribed to listen. In this way, the radio functions as a space in itself, which is placed in private spaces like the home. This project re-conceptualizes these characteristics of radio space through an abstract sound piece.

radio

Frances Dyson states that in the functioning of the radio “most of what it says is perceived by the listener as factual and informative, newsworthy, or at least dedicated to the betterment of life” (167). Additionally, the radio voice “does not mumble or stutter. It pronounces full and meaningful sentences” (Dyson 167). Radio production, like most mass media, produces polished broadcasts that present a particular degree of professionalism and ‘truthfulness’ to the audience. This sound piece challenges and transforms these notions, presenting an experimental interpretation of radio sound and space. By incorporating recordings of radio technology, broadcasts, frequencies, white noise, voices, as well as ambient sound of the home and bodies that reside there, this project re-articulates the notion of radio spaces, both physically and intangibly. Critically, the piece takes on a narrative form, beginning with an individual walking over and turning on a radio. At this point, the listener is shifted towards the space of the radio as manipulated frequencies and broadcast voices fade in and out. By creating a distorted interpretation of radio broadcasts and space, this project counters the polished, professional and informative structure of the medium.

radio voice

The inspiration for restructuring radio space is influenced by the artistic method of détournement, a signature of the Situationist International movement. A détournement, is an artistic practice that involves the reuse of elements in a structure or space to create a new ensemble, which may completely change its original functioning, thereby creating new meaning (Debord par. 1 & 2). This artistic method is often used in relation to spaces and their contents to establish a new interpretation of cultural signs. The artistic method of the détournement is utilized in this piece by editing and morphing various recordings of radio broadcasts to create a new interpretation of radio space. Aural signifiers are transformed by changing the pitch, speed, tone, timbre, and mastering of preexisting radio recordings. This appropriation of broadcasts is a diversion from the normal functioning of radio. Furthermore, The practice of manipulating radio sound is also inspired by the work of The Hallicrafters. This alternative music/sound art duo of Eric Hubel and Algis Kizys, work with live radio frequencies and channels, manipulating broadcasts in real time during public performance (“Festival du Nouveau Cinema”). By taking on the form of a sound piece, this project is effective because it utilizes the sonic nature and contents of radio space to present its message, which would not be the case if constructed visually or by other means.

Blog Post 3 – Digitizing the Real on Social Media

Critically, social media acts as a space to document, display and digitize events that occur in physical locations. Events and images (either single images or videos) posted online consist of a wide variety of activities, which occur in physical space. This can consist of mundane activities, or contrastingly significant events, such as activist demonstrations. Documenting one’s life on social media in this way allows users to construct a specific online identity and presence. Due to this, there is a digital dualism between the ways bodies interact in physical space, are recorded in those spaces, and how that information is posted or shared online. Here, embodiment in the physical, to some extent, determines embodiment and representation on social media.

Facebook Fun

Taking this into consideration, over the last few days and weeks, videos and images of the protests against austerity in Montreal have been shared online, particularly on social media websites like Facebook. These images and videos of protests and dissent function as a way to gain a first hand perspective of participants and the events that are proceeding in public spaces.

Images taken during recent demonstrations, including the video attached below, are the result of tense conditions around increased financial restrictions and cuts implemented by the Quebec government. This is a circumstance where there is a divide between state institutions and the citizens that are directly affected by financial cuts. Similarly, this divide is shown in how bodies are depicted in these images, particularly within the video below. The police on the right, representational of the systems of power, and the protestors on the left, a depiction of those directly affected by and opposed to these new government mandates. Simply there are two types of bodies in this space; those against the current social systems and the figures who work within them and enforce legislation. However, this is an ironic circumstance because the government cuts also directly affect police offers and their pensions. This has caused many of the Montreal police to strike against the new financial cuts as well. Yet, even though both sides oppose these new austerity measures, they still clash between one another. Significantly, the way individuals side in these debates in physical spaces reflect how they present themselves in virtual spaces also. Here, many Montreal Facebook users are either in support of, against or abstain from these new austerity measures.

Moreover, this act of recording events and violence during protests and posting these images or videos on Facebook, as in the case of the video below, can be viewed as a mode of sousveillance. This is because, power is put back into the hands of minority citizens to record and distribute images to the public through social media platforms. Chiefly, This enables citizens to watch those who work for social institutions, like the police, and show how their actions are harming citizens who have the right to advocate for their causes. Yet, lack of description and information of videos and images can allow for different interpretations and readings to arise. In the case of the video posted below, there is little textual description of the clash between protestors and police. Simply titled ‘Round 2’ the information basically conveys that similar violence has arisen before during these austerity protests. This lack of information could cause viewers to be unsure or confused about the who, what, when, why or how regarding the violent actions in the video.

The power of sousveillance is arguably undercut by posting videos and images of protests on social media websites. This is because these platforms are spaces of surveillance, which continually monitor and record user activity and their content distribution. Despite the feeling of agency to document and represent a first hand experience of being in a protest, content is shared within systems and spaces that continually monitor participant’s actions. As a result, sousveillance occurs within larger structures of surveillance of online space.

Although, it’s interesting to note how images of violence are considered normal or more appropriate content for online spaces, while images depicting the female body are not. Facebook’s banning of photos with exposed nipples presents the understanding that an bare body in a neutral position is more detrimental to the public than a series of bodies violently conflicting with one another.

 Questions to consider: 

  1. Do you think actions of sousveillance, like the one mentioned above, can create change despite being within larger structures of surveillance?
  2. Why do you think images of violence or conflict between bodies are permitted on online spaces more so than images of the female body?

Embodiment, Virtual Technologies and Locative Art – Presentation

physical and virtual embodimentIn his article, Jason Farman analyzes how mobile technology is changing the ways spaces have been embodied in the information age. The Internet is no longer a thing that you must access from home, due to the ubiquity of modern cell phones individuals can take technology with them and interact with it constantly. Using the example of cell phone conversations, Farman explains that when people make calls they are now trying to reach the embodiment of a “person”.  This is different from traditional landlines, which people used to contact “locations” rather than embodied people. For Farman this transition to a free-floating connection between body and spaces represents a shift in the way spaces are embodied. Importantly, space and bodies co-constitute each other; spaces produce bodies and bodies produce spaces. While mobile phones may be popularly understood to dislocate bodies from spaces, it in fact allows one to habitat multiple spaces at once. Spaces do not have to be physical or concrete, in fact the entire opposition between the virtual and the real is a false dichotomy according to Farman. This is because bodies, spaces and technology are formed within culture. As a result The virtual and real are not separate entities, in fact they inform our perception of each other. This creates a distinction between space and place: space being more abstract while place is an embodied practice. embodiment of a person

The concept of the sensory-inscribed body is a key aspect in Farman’s Chapter. Drawing directly from theories developed by Merleau-Ponty, it claims that our senses extend the limits of the body, providing experience and knowledge of the world. Additionally, Mearleau-Ponty’s theories of phenomenology, which we have examined in class already, along with the notion of the mind-body duality, are critical as well. These theories regarding the ways we use the body is interrelated with the idea of intersubjectivity for Farman, which argues that people can acknowledge one another’s sensory inscribed bodyembodiment, but will never be able to fully understand it based on their own subjectivity.

Discussed above, the embodiment of virtual and physical spaces are interrelated in daily routines and practices. For example, the practice of checking-in on Facebook provides a combination of inhabiting virtual and physical spaces simultaneously. This use of technology and embodiment is linked to notions of the cognitive awareness and unconscious. Farman states, most of what we know in the world comes at the level of unconsciousness. facebook check-inWe are not always aware of our individual body parts, instead these recede from perception in the way we acknowledge the body as a whole. Similarly, the use of technology becomes extensions of the body, which we can be unconscious of. Lastly, Farman explains that embodiment is a constant process of reading the world, with meaning being taken as we read bodies and spaces. Culturally inscribed, bodies, technology and space are constantly being read, interpreted and understood in terms of culture that surrounds us. This continues between the virtual and physical spaces, where the body and space act as signifiers, constantly interpreted.

Art is older than documented history; humankind has always found ways to express itself artistically to reflect on its current perception of the universe. Available technology has been a critical factor in that expression. With the emergence of new digital and satellite technologies in the 21st century, new artistic practices have been created, by applying technology available at the time. Locative Art uses digital technologies in alternative ways to embody space, and enhance the way we view space. According to Hemment, there are three categories of locative art, mapping, geo-annotation, and ambulant. Within each of these categories, sub categories reflect how the technology is applied, from documenting perceived reality to expressing issues and feelings to collaboration and social advocacy.

iphone locative pracitce  With civilization came division of labour; ‘artist’ became a  specific role and art became, to the ruling classes at least, a  commodity. With this form of technology-enabled art, there has  been a democratizing of the process and a breakdown of the  exclusivity of the role of artist. Consequently, there is a blurring of  the lines as to what is considered art and whom the  artists/producers are; actually, anyone can become an artist/producer. Art has been liberated from the galleries and become part of everyday life to people who were once excluded from the process.

 

Dan Bevc, Rory Warnock & Samuel Schmidt

Questions

  1. In your personal experience participating in physical and virtual spaces, do you find yourself aware of your embodied movement in these spaces? Or, do you find yourself unconscious in the way your daily routines and media use affect how you embody these types of overlapping spaces?

 

  1. With contemporary media, the role of the artist is becoming less specific. Due to the ubiquity of smartphones with GPS capabilities, is it possible to consider all smartphone users as artists or potential artists? Can one’s daily routines with their phones be considered locative art, or must it be a more conscious and contemplative process?

Blog Post 2: Re-orientation Exercise

In my introductory blog post, I stated that one of my favourite spaces was the Beaches Boardwalk in Toronto. Located in the East end of the city, this space is a popular location, particularly in the Summer, for people to come swim, relax and enjoy themselves at the beach. Although after critically analyzing this space, it is apparent that the way bodies either temporarily occupy this space as visitors, as opposed to those who permanently live in the surrounding neighborhood, shows a clear imbalance of power.

Boardwalk HousesAs discussed last class, February 18th, the concept of Whiteness is a complex system that functions socially, politically and ideologically. This creates an unequal balance of power, in favor of those who are deemed white from those who are not. The Beaches is an area and community inhabited primarily by upper-middle class to upper class, white individuals and families. High living expenses associated with this community continually reinforce what bodies can afford, purchase, inhabit, represent themselves and exhibit control in this space. As a result, the bodies that permanently inhabit this location reinforce notions, values, attitudes and habits of the Beaches community. Specifically, the community is known to be an area of the city where residents can afford large properties, have several cars, financed from highly paid incomes associated with young urban professionals or budding nuclear families.

 After conducting research on housing and real estate in the Beaches, it was shown that houses primarily ranged just above or below $1,000,000. Even the cost to rent was astronomical with houses costing thousands of dollars a month. These financial requirements to own property and establish representation in the location, is limited by class-based status and structures. Due to this, certain types of people continually inhabit this location, reinforcing the functioning of the community and its public spaces as upper class areas. This can explicitly be shown in the public space of the boardwalk.

Beaches House

Control of private space effects how public space is understood in a community. It creates a divide from those that must commute outside of the area and experience the beach, water and boardwalk for limited sets of time in the summer, from those who are able to take part in these ‘luxuries’ anytime they wish. Sarah Ahmed states “Whiteness could be described as an ongoing and un-finished history, which orientates bodies in specific directions, affecting how they ‘take up’ space” (150). In the case of the Beaches boardwalk, this ongoing process of those able to afford to live in the community continually cycles and reinforces itself. By doing this it establishes the ways bodies ‘take-up’ space, either temporarily as visitors or those able to become permanently apart of the community and exert greater control over its public areas.

Henri Lefebvre’s concept of Spatial Practice, one his three triads in the spatial model, involves deciphering space to reveal practices of a society. Moreover, the spatial practice of neocapitalism embodies a close relationship with daily routine and urban reality, which include urban networks, private and leisure spaces (Lefebvre 291). This concept highlights a connection between private space, public space and social practices. In the case of the Beaches, there is a link between those who control private space (homes) in the community, effecting the social functioning of the area and control over public space as well. Overall there is a clear disconnect between those permitted to be apart of the community, who have permanent access to public spaces like the boardwalk, from those who do not and must commute in, taking on the role as a visitor, to only temporarily enjoy the space.

New Town Houses Beaches Boardwalk

Mis-Guide to Concordia University: A Sound Map

by Rory Warnock and Dan Bevc

This project is a “mis-guide” map, a psychogeographic tour intended to expose the sonic structure of leisure spaces within Concordia’s Sir George Williams Campus. It is intended to encourage the use of the auditory senses as a tool for reframing one’s perception of how these spaces, which are open to all students, are inhabited by particular bodies based on common interests and identities. It also demonstrates that the differences in these spaces are perceptible even on an auditory level. In order to properly analyze the auditory characteristics of the spaces, one must begin with a careful listening excursion. The sound map provided is intended to guide the viewer on such an excursion and to shift their focus away from the dominant visual mode of understanding space. This will allow them to rediscover locations and to consider the importance of sound in representing the way students define spaces and are defined by spaces.

The sound map assembled by our group surveys seven leisure spaces in Concordia’s downtown campus.These areas are located in Concordia’s H Building, LB Building, Molson School of Business, EV Building, and Visual Arts Building. The intended purpose of this map is to facilitate listening in these spaces rather than the process of getting to these locations. Moreover, the map can be completed in any order, as long as each location is visited. See the photos attached to each location point on the map and listen to the audio files to orient yourselves in the space.

http://mapmaker.donkeymagic.co.uk/map/27355

Some helpful questions to think about that frame how bodies and environments are perceived in the locations are: What content is being discussed in the space? Is there a high or low density of bodies in the space? What is the energy in the space? Is it dynamic or passive? What is the size of the space? What is the movement like in the space?

Virtual Reality – Bodies & Spaces

Hi Everyone,

I know this is a little bit late, but I thought I would post this trailer for the movie – Life 2.0, which is a documentary that looks at a series of individuals who are avid users of the virtual world, Second Life. After the presentation on ‘Mapping’ presented on January 28, we shortly discussed what we considered to be the pros and cons of Second Life and virtual world practices. As a result, I thought I would share this trailer with the class because it provides an interesting perspective on the way in which bodies interact with space, both in the physical and virtual worlds. If you are interested I would advise checking out the full movie if you have a chance

Blog Post 1: About Me

Rory

My name is Rory Warnock, I’m from Toronto, Ontario and I’m currently in my final year in Communication Studies at Concordia. With a focus on sound, my studies in Communications at Concordia have largely involved discussing/analyzing the topics of music, audio technologies, live performance, soundscapes and other related subject matter. I have also volunteered and interned at the radio stations CJLO (Concordia) and CKUT (McGill).

Most of my time is spent reading (both for leisure and academically), watching movies, listening to music, making my own music, spending time with friends, playing hockey, and studying.

In terms of specific goals for this class, I’m looking to gain a stronger understanding of the ways in which spaces, as well as with the bodies in those spaces, reinforce or are representative of particular power dynamics in society. Contrastingly, I’m also interested in learning about the ways bodies and spaces can disrupt, challenge and change existing power relations. I’m also very interested in researching the way bodies and spaces function during live performances.

One of my favourite spaces is the Beaches Boardwalk in Toronto. Located in Toronto’s east end the boardwalk outlines a short segment of Lake Ontario. I really enjoy this space because it changes at different times and seasons. In the summer the boardwalk is busy and dynamic with thousands of people relaxing on the beach. While in the winter the space is cold and virtually deserted. If it is clear enough you can see across the lake, while on clouded days and evenings the lake looks endless.

beaches boardwalk winter Beaches Boardwalk

In the space my actions and body movements are pretty low energy. On the boardwalk I usually sit, read, go for a walk or relax. For me, it’s a space where I’m not the center of attention. Rather I’m just one of the countless number of people or things within the space, which I find calming.

Five things faculty do that make learning hard:

  • When professors are not concise or articulate what they want from student assignments
  • Lack of communication in answering questions, comments or concerns between professors and students
  • Limited budgets for departments and faculty
  • Use of favouritism by professors and a lack of equality for all students
  • Limited comments on graded assignments

Five things faculty do that make it easy to learn: 

  • Providing students with a variety of relevant examples or current case studies that stimulate thought and discussion
  • When professors are personable yet professional
  • Professors who encourage students to draw on their own experiences in academic discussions
  • Creating assignments that allow students to actively think rather than passively write and regurgitate information
  • Providing classes that cover a variety of different themes/topics in relation to Communication Studies