Chris Funkhouser

In audio practice

In audio practice XII

Practice audio in

Girassol studio (Frelinghuysen, NJ), 2003/2014
Girassol studio (Frelinghuysen, NJ), 2003/2014

The diagram presented in my previous post partially encapsulates my endeavors with audio as a whole: working with—and sometimes with connection between—processed sound, music, language, performance, and multimedia. The chart contains a few names of people I have worked with and is not a bad outline, though as a mapping of a live performance, it does not intersect with the documentary work I’ve done.

Thinking back over the span of years encapsulated in these commentaries about recording experiences (1986-2014), the place where my audio practice started—with a handheld cassette unit and cheap tapes—is so massively different from where we are today. Portable (and post-able) recording technology in one form or another is now practically ubiquitous. Along the way, I made do (owed dues) with what I had access to, acquiring and/or using cassette, 8-track reel, 4-track cassette, DAT, Minidisc, SD card recorders, and other hardware. Thanks to computers and software decent and affordable home-studio setups, suitable to produce new and old material, are within the general public’s reach — although as my wife contends, practice plays an important role (i.e., you need to know what you are doing and that only happens with familiarity over time).

In audio practice XI

Media mapping performance 2014

Chris Funkhouser, Newark Improvisation Festival 2014; photo by Ben Polsky
Chris Funkhouser, Newark Improvisation Festival 2014; photo by Ben Polsky

In Spring 2014 NJIT Theatre Arts professor Louis Wells invited me, as a musician, to participate in the Newark Improvisation Festival (held May 10 in Bradley Hall, Rutgers University-Newark). My daughter Aleatory and I began taking guitar lessons together in early April, so I decided—with my new instrument—to prepare a digital poetry performance with synchronized sound and media (visual accompaniment with embedded textual arrangement). I would interconnect a series of pictures to the sound by way of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technology, specifically Eugenio Tisselli’s software program MIDIPoet—my experiments with which I’ve documented in posts on Netartery and Authoring Software.

In audio practice X

Funk's SoundBox 2012

Funk's SoundBox 2012 logo
Funk's SoundBox 2012 logo

As partly told in a previous commentary, I spent time in Portugal in February 2013. Recordings I made during the visit consist of the files presented on PennSound, a series of ambient tracks in Porto and Buçaco, documentation of the proceedings of the Poesia experimental: materialidades e representações digitais colloquium at University Fernando Pessoa, and my "Seminário Transversal" for the Materialidades da Literatura seminar at University of Coimbra. At the tail end of the excursion, proposals to submit work for the Electronic Literature Organization’s Chercher le texte conference (Paris, September 2013) Virtual Gallery were due. Mulling over what to propose during course of stimulating days in Portugal, being wowed by PO.EX’s documentation style and possibilities of making new work within the context of documentary work, I decided to propose compiling recordings I made during the previous year.

In audio practice IX

Nate Mackey tapes

Nathaniel Mackey, NYC, 2000; photo by Chris Funkhouser
Nathaniel Mackey, NYC, 2000; photo by Chris Funkhouser

Interlacing different threads of my audio practice together, I want to address another writer (poet, critic, editor, professor, radio programmer) whose company has served as a great inspiration, and whose work soars in range and quality.

Nathaniel Mackey entered my consciousness by way of some of his students, specifically poet-musicians Rich West and Eric Curkendall, who I met after I moved to Santa Cruz in 1988.

In audio practice VIII

Introducing PO.EX

detail of collage on PO.EX Todas as leituras page
detail of collage on PO.EX Todas as leituras page,

PO.EX: A Digital Archive of Portuguese Experimental Literature is an important ongoing documentary and educational project initiated in 2005 by Rui Torres, a professor at Universidade Fernando Pessoa, in Porto, Portugal. Torres, working collectively with other Portuguese scholars and programmers, presents much of the archive online, and has also produced artifacts on CD-ROM. PO.EX participates in a larger consortium of research groups focusing on electronic and experimental literature and — via its researchers’ knowledge of the content of these various international initiatives — establishes a thorough approach to the task of building an archive dedicated to vital artistic and scholarly concerns. The intellectual care put into populating and shaping the PO.EX Digital Archive — while maintaining a high level of usability — reflects not only deep consideration and cultivated knowledge of the subject by its producer(s), but a dedication to preserving valuable cultural information and making it available to those without physical access to rare and sparsely distributed historical materials.