Ion on Iron

from The Last Things by John Harvey



This, my first sonore trouvée and noise composition, comprises the conversation between a multitude of electrical signals, pulses, and messages passed between aircraft and ships, radio transmitters and receivers, across land and sea, bounced off the ionosphere, picked up by the ferrite aerial, and made audible on a short-wave radio. The sound was produced by spanning the short-wavelength from 3 to 30 MHz while feeding the signal into one channel of the reel-to-reel tape recorder, (which effectively doubled the monaural source and set the two signals out-of-phase). This piece contributed significantly to my subsequent development as a visual artist; it introduced me to the concept of developing an artwork directly from a found source using systemic processes.


from The Last Things, released April 23, 2012
Personnel: John Harvey.

Instrumentation: Bush Automatic transistor radio, and Akai 4000DB Mk II reel-to-reel tape recorder.

Context: Recorded in Abertillery, UK in June 1977. Remastered in Aberystwyth, UK in March 2012.


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John Harvey Ceredigion, UK

Harvey is a historian of art, visual culture, and sound art, and also a sound- and visual-art practitioner. His research field is the visual and sonic culture of religion, principally. He explores non-iconic attitudes to visualization and sonic articulations of religion by engaging visual, textual, and audible sources, theological and cultural ideas, and systemic and audiovisualogical processes. ... more

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