‘Under a Fooled Moon’ a Radiophonic Closing Ceremony for Suva ‘Untitled’.

Suva Closing Ceremony

9 May 2021 from 17.00
Myymälä2, Helsinki
SonoBus Private Group: underafooledmoon
openradio.in

fugitive radio is convening a collective radiophonic ritual, gathering ‘Under a Fooled Moon’ for a live improv session led by Suva. Guests are asked to bring FM radio receivers, earbuds, smartphones and bluetooth speakers to open a portal between parallel (sonic) universes; you can join onsite at Myymälä2 gallery and online at the SonoBus Private Group: underafooledmoon. The situation is being devised in collaboration with Sophea Lerner and Timo Tuhkanen.

If you are curious to join online or in the gallery with your smartphone, SonoBus is a multi-user platform for streaming audio. It’s great for jammin’. The app is free to download and is available for a range of operating systems, devices and as an audio plug-in: https://sonobus.net/

The event will be streamed live to https://openradio.in/live

From 30 April until 9 May 2021, the Helsinki-based artist Suva exhibits a large series of watercolour portraits of ‘protagonists’ and instrument-sculptures that will be brought to life during impro-performances at Myymälä2. ‘Untitled’ is supported by Artists at Risk. See the Facebook event for dates and times.

fugitive radio is an artistic-research project initiated by Sumugan Sivanesan to research migrant/anticolonial perspectives and music in the North and pursue radio-as-method. fugitive radio is funded by the Kone Foundation and is being made in collaboration with Pixelache. Live broadcasts are supported by {openradio}.

Swarm Vs Stack

Sound(ing)Systems Poster

A close friend once described fugitive radio (and when it was initially formulating as Baracca do Sound System) as my ‘teenage-boy-fantasy-sound-system project’, which I went along with until I recently encountered Nik Nowak’s Schizo Sonics at KINDL Berlin.

Indeed, I had initially proposed to build some kind of mobile sound system — ‘a bicycle-mounted radio shack’ — and it may still come to fruition for Pixelache Festival, however fugitive radio seems to drift towards dispersal and the ephemeral, rather than the monumental and antagonistic. I am no stranger to the discourse of sonic weaponry and Nowak’s oeuvre has piqued my interest in the past at CTM. So as someone with an interest in sound system culture, it’s curious that Nowak’s sound sculptures have emerged as a counterpoint to what I now find myself pursuing. Below is a quick comparison of concerns:

Swarm Vs Stack
quotidian technologies at hand / customised industrial technologies
relatively accessible, low barrier to entry / requires access to equipment, skills & some expertise
ephemeral / monumental
guerilla dispersal / centralised soundclash
technology of the (performing) body / the body as driver of the machine

This suggests to me we are dealing with a different politics of space and dialectics when it comes to soundclash. At KINDL Schizo Sonics concerns histories and strategies of Cold War loudspeaker propaganda across a divided Berlin, with contemporaneous post-war sound system cultures in Jamaica acting as ‘the angle between two walls’, to cite A War of Decibels (2021) above. (Interestingly Nowak and his crew point to Hedley Jones, a Jamaican born musician, audio engineer, inventor, writer and trade-unionist who trained as a radar engineer with the British Royal Airforce and served during World War II. When Jones returned to Jamaica he began building amplifiers that were responsive to a much wider frequency range than those readily available, which he later incorporated into sound systems. He is considered one of the most important pioneers of sounds system electronics.) While a soundclash may present a dialectical war of ideologies, I think fugitive radio is concerned with a different politics of space and subjectivation.

Considering dispersed and covert forms of audio performance that I hope to produce in the near future, I was reminded today of discussions during the Onassis AiR School of Infinite Rehearsals: Movement I about how our group might enact different or new relations in the matrices of power we were entangled in as arts workers. Here Federica Bueti alerted us to Tina Campt’s discussion of refusal from her book Listening to Images (2017): ‘creative practices of refusal—nimble and strategic practices that undermine the categories of the dominant.’

I am also reminded again of the Sound Swarm protest performances devised by Grey Filastine that have occurred at numerous UN COP climate conferences, and also of cacerolazo noise protests in which agitators bang on pots and pans.

I am thinking about the ubiquity of blue tooth speakers and how a kind of ‘sonic entity’ might emerge, as political performance and even resistance, from what is at hand and everyday. Another example is the way people use bowls as resonating chambers to amplify the speakers on their mobile phones. For Pixelache Festival I would like to explore these improvised technologies and corporeal gestures further, to develop what I’ve discussed elsewhere as a ‘Choreography of Disobedience’.

Northern Anticolonial Remix

I met with artist, journalist and activist Jari Tamminen at his exhibition and workshop series, Spektaakkeliakatemia, currently on at Stoa, Helsinki (30.10.2020—13.12.2020). He explained to me his ideas about how the language advertising is the lingua-franca of the globalised world. In his art-activist practice and workshops Tamminen considers ‘classic advertising’, such as the manipulation of text and image as seen on billboards and bus shelters, as a form of communication that is recognisable and understood internationally and across cultures. This is evident in the exhibition at Stoa, where a series of ‘subvertisements’ are rendered in languages that reflect those commonly spoken by teenagers who attended his workshops in East Helsinki, an area notable for its migrant communities and ‘cultural diversity’. Aside from Finnish, Swedish and English the posters featured texts in Russian, Turkish and French (a language commonly spoken amongst West African communities).

Tamminen, who studied marketing, further claims that as a modern and subliminal means of communication (and manipulation), advertising takes advantage of an innate awareness that we humans have about our surroundings. He has observed that when his students analyse advertising in his workshops they are often surprised at how many brands and trademarks they can recognise, even if they have never directly engaged with the commodities or services they represent.

I first met Tamminen at an exhibition he curated, Rájágeassin Demarkation, about Sámi art-activism at Sinne gallery Helsinki, August 2020. Here I was introduced to the work of Suohpanterror!, a Sámi collective using the tools of subvertising and meme propaganda to challenge the state and corporate marginalisation of Sámi people and their interests.

To think a little about the power dynamics of (visual) appropriation and remix: The ‘classic’ argument is that advertising is an invasive takeover of public space by private commercial interests. Culture jamming, ad-busting, subvertising and other similar strategies intervene and disrupt these processes, often with satire, and arguably speak truth back to power. To use Tamminen’s words these practices ‘punch up’, especially when people and communities are invisibilised, marginalised or misrepresented in the media and by the dominant narratives they uphold.

Tamminen discusses his work with Suohpanterror! on a campaign to confront Disney’s Frozen franchise. Disney’s production crew had visited Sámi lands late in 2016 as part of their research for the second animated feature, but had not properly consulted or sought permission from Sámi people. As Tamminen writes in Voima, a magazine freely distributed in Helsinki, Sámi clothing, jewellery and other artifacts were viewed and used, irritating historical and ongoing tensions about the appropriation and misrepresentation of Sámi culture.

Suohpanterror! and Tamminen’s poster campaign sustained a public debate about Disney taking more than just inspiration from the peoples of the North. Tamminen draws attention to the ‘Hat of Four Winds’, an example of traditional attire that has been appropriated and commodified in Finland, (notable by the tourism industry). One of the characters wears such a hat their Stolen campaign poster as a satirical speculation as to how Disney might also appropriate Sámi culture. Tamminen explains that when Disney were made aware these and other complaints they quickly responded. The producers sought to consult with a Sámi expert committee during the development of the animation, signing a contract as a commitment to portray their culture respectfully. Disney also dubbed the film into a Northern Sámi language. Jikŋon 2, was released in cinemas conjunction with the original language version of the film in Norway, December 2019.

Tamminen alerted me to a popular TV show Hymyhuulet (Smiling Lips) from the 1980s that featured ‘Nunnuka Nunnuka’ racist and derogatory caricatures of Sámi people. (Question: Why are they in Black-face?):

Sámi rapper, Ailu Valle responds to this racist media-cultural slur:

It’s worth noting that strategies of remix need not only be weaponised. For example fan-fiction and Karaoke employ methods of cut, copy, modify and paste to pay tributes, elaborate on fantasies and find affinities with characters, celebrities and other ‘public figures’. (As this project veers towards remix in music, I’m curious as to what is the tension between appropriation, admiration and meme-like acceleration of cultural productions).