transmissions (voices of objects and skies)

edition: 100
fresno metropolitan museum of art

  1. transmissions (voices of objects and skies)

transmissions (voices of objects and skies) was created for the exhibition transmissions from space at the fresno metropolitan museum. the entire body of work included sound, painting, drawing, and sculpture – everything inspired by john glenn’s first transmission from space, as well as rimbaud’s poem “vowels” in which each vowel is given a color equivalent. the sound installation consisted of 102 color coded tin cans hanging in a dark room – one for each vowel in glenn’s text. 64 of the cans contained small audio speakers playing an 8 channel soundwork, while other cans contained small 4 watt colored lightbulbs. the source material was recordings of satellites by amateur astronomers from the 1960’s through the 1980’s. these sounds have been processed and transformed electronically. the cd contains a stereo version of the installation that was re-worked for home listening and regular stereo speakers. the image below was drawn by a young artist named nancy alcaraz of the installation and is featured on the back cover of the cd package.

  • reviews:
  • The Universe is dark and silent. For some, that’s a metaphor of “magnificent desolation” and Stanislav Lem had one of his book’s characters take on a test of courage by forcing him to free-float in space for two full days. For others, it must be a place of infinite peace. That’s the galaxy “Transmission” is taking you.

    Steve Roden may be known to most as a visual artist who has made it to the Centre Pompidou and top-notch American museums, but his paintings and installations have always been closely related to sound. While others have gone down that road before, Roden must be one of the few to actually produce music that is worthwhile listening to at home, without the images being present. This album makes no exception, even though one would dearly love to take that wormhole back in time just to set foot into the fresno metropolitan museum, where the accompanying exhibtion made its debut. Technology and poetry come together, as John Glenn’s first transmission from space and Arthur Rimbaud’s colour-coded vowels” meet in a dark room with tin cans emitting light according to the Frenchman’s poem and noises derived from the American hero’s speech as well as various amateur astronomers’ recordings. It’s a solemn world Roden has built: Sometimes the receiver gently twitters and tweets, sending off fluffy harmonic clouds into orbit. Microscospically small particles light up and die down again. Some of the melodies are so feathery, that they condense into happily whirring snow flakes. And most of the time, these fragile and delicate tones, both kindly outlandish and strangely familiar, make for a tender firefly-symphony to be played at the birthday party of a little satellite.

    “Transmissions” is a musical fairy-tale full of love and, of course, a happy-end. It’s also proof that music can indeed be a language (and that seeing, listening and feeling is all the same on another level). Most of all, however, it’s a great album that deserves to be listened to by more than this edition’s limited run of 1.000 copies will allow. The Universe may be dark and silent, but the cosmos of the arts has become just a little more human with this effort.

    By tocafi / mouvement
  • Things have been quiet for Steve Roden, well on the side of releasing CDs as no doubt he’s busy with sound installations and paintings. ‘Transmissions’ (Voices Of Objects And Skies)’ is about John Glenn’s first transmission from space, as well as Arthur Rimbaud’s poem ‘Vowels’. The installation consists of tin cans, 102 in total. 64 had small audio speakers and the other 4 watt colored light-bulbs. On the 64 speakers an eight-channel sound piece was heard, reduced to a stereo mix on this CD. The source material are ‘recordings of satellites by amateur astronomers from the 1960s through the 1980s’. In the usual Steve Roden fashion he treats those sounds very carefully, by cutting them into loops and have them on repeat, but he creates an illusion, as they are not fully on similar repeat, as the work grows denser over the course of time as slighter similar sounds move in and out. Similar loops of a varying length make that this work is never the same throughout and constantly changing and makes this into a highly captivating sound-work, along his recent CDs on Bottrop-boy.

    frans de waard / vital weekly
  • With Transmissions(voices of objects and Skies) Roden creates this beautiful soothing and subtle developing drone soundworld, which akin to floating in some strange star system. Where objects and sounds rotate towards you from the quiet blackness.

    Original conceived for an art exhibition inspired by astronaut John Glenn’s first transmission from space at the fresno metropolitan museum in Los Angeles. It consist of one 37 minute long track, that slowly revolves towards you out of the darkness then slides back out into darkness once more in it’s last few moments. It’s never threatening or sinister, it’s deeply soothing and relaxing, consisting of one main breathing like series of melodic drones, from which Roden builds on Morse code like blips, whirling & whispered dialogue, 50’s space craft like swirls and hovers of sound and all manner of shifting and soothing tone detail. At around the twenty minute mark he introduce this wonderful child-like cum African plans drift  melodic pipe organ like tone, that he builds wonderful soothing and quirky detail into. All of the sounds where created from recordings made by amature astronomers from the 1960’s to the 1990’s, then Roden played them back though a series of small speakers and manipulated there patterns and texture.

    Though out the piece Roden keeps your attention with its beautiful melodic spacey drones and developing sound maps. A highly rewarding, detailed, playful and stress releasing long form sound work, that invites you back for  often replays. To find out more about Mr Roden’s work go to here.

    roger batty / musique machine