In the project BEACON – http://www.sjoerdleijten.nl/BEACON.html – we try to arrive at a form of composition or music making in which we use the radiomagnetic waves around us as source material. In order to accomplish this we use software defined radio’s and the telecommunication environment gnuradio in conjunction with Supercollider. During our residency period at STEIM – from the 1st of July 2016 until the 6th of august – we experimented with the use of raspberries as transmitters, the visualization of the radiomagnetic waves on old televisions and we developed python code -within the gnuradio framework – to use software defined radio’s to ‘sequence’ in realtime through different radio frequencies. Furthermore we experimented with joule thieves and crystal radio’s.
Before we started our residency we built a beacon with 3 radio compartments, each one containing a raspberry, a software defined radio and a speaker. The beacon was able to work autonomously and ‘re-compose’ the aether on the fly. It would pick up all kinds of radio signals: radio stations, walkie talkes, TETRA signals, wifi, etc and would combine these signals into a realtime composition for 3 voices.
This beacon has been exhibited at De Ruimte in Amsterdam and at the Belgium Performance Festival in Brussels. Based on our findings during the work period at STEIM we made a prototype performance which we carried out at the Belgium Performance Festival in which we used a Tenori-On to control the beacon.
Currently (until the 20th of November) we are doing a residency at Overtoon in Brussels, during which we will develop this performance. We will build our own controllers for the beacon, develop the code furthermore and work on the composition and performance.