Margaret Curtis: This, too. opens Friday, June 21 in the Street Gallery

Ryan Ruehlen: Georhythmic Drift Music

Aug 17, 2018 – Nov 3, 2018

Georhythmic Drift Music is an on-going work by inter-disciplinary artist Ryan Wade Ruehlen. The project focuses on deep listening research and involves field experiments investigating VLF [very low frequency] radio emissions, unmanned aerial vehicles, and impromptu sonic performances transmitted at-a-distance. Utilizing drones as both an aerial courier system and an “acoustic prosthetic” privileges the quadcopter as a tool for capturing the auditory potential of the atmosphere with the aid of extended, ground-to-sky, antennas.

Employing a combination of handmade VLF receivers, FM broadcast and digital live-streaming platforms, Ruehlen traffics “prepared” readings of ionospheric radio weather across the airwaves. The VLF sounds, which are largely made of lightning strikes and upper atmospheric phenomena, are spontaneously converted from a geographically remote region and distributed to an audience gathered in urban parking lots. Similar to a drive-in theater, audience members tune in to the performance communally through their car radios as they pick up sounds otherwise inaudible on the electromagnetic grid system we all live on.

VLF signals lie between 3—30 kHz, which begin to fall below the audible range of the human ear. In the early and mid 20th century, VLF was used for naval telemetry, navigation and sending signals at great distances, as the massive waves reflect off of the ionosphere allowing information to pass across the globe. Since then, VLF has been used to study electromagnetic disturbances in the atmosphere, microwave background radiation (cosmic background noise), and more practically to solve technological disruptions that occur from events such as lighting. VLF is often referred to by radio-hobbyists and scientists as “natural radio” because it acts as a conduit, apprehending and translating weather phenomenon. Differing from conventional scientific research, this psychogeographical project aims to display an aesthetic listening experience, illuminating natural materials that are hidden from human perceptual faculties. Working with UMOCA, Ruehlen will be broadcasting from the salt flats located west of Salt Lake City on the border of Utah and Nevada.

Supported by Rocky Mountain Power Foundation