Telegraph Music

At Rewire 2018, Antenes (Lori Napoleon) debuted a new RE:VIVE commission, Telegraph Music. A project that finds and celebrates the intersections of modular electronic music and its forefather; telecommunications.

Known for her inventive soundscapes, audio engineering and eclectic DJ sets, New York-based DJ, producer and electronic artist Antenes also operates a studio-turned-laboratory of self-made sequencers and modular synthesizers built from vintage telephone equipment. She presented the world premiere of Telegraph Music, a Rewire and RE:VIVE commission (in co-production with Beeld en Geluid Den Haag) that explores the intertwined histories of electronic music and telecommunications by performing with a one-of-a-kind repurposed switchboard modular setup.

The intersection of telecommunications and electronic music harkens back to the 18th century, when early experiments investigated how electrical phenomena could be harnessed for the exchange of information and enlighten our world both visibly and audibly. In the early 20th century the potential for electronics as a musical instrument moved from gimmick to the music that the industrial future would demand as its soundtrack. Envisioning this future, Luigi Russolo’s 1913 letters, L’arte dei Rumori, defined societies’ discovered appetite for electronic music composition and its potential to unlock sonic beauty. He predicted that audiences would be drawn to and crave the infinite potential that composed “noise” had to offer the world and rightfully so. The potential unearthed by early inventors and the imagination of futurist thinkers cemented the digital landscape ubiquitous today, defining the transmission of thoughts, knowledge, imagination and emotion. 

Antenes was joined by Arad, 1/2 of Lakker and the visual mastermind behind the Irish techno duo’s acclaimed Struggle & Emerge and Tundra live A/V shows. Arad provided visuals for Telegraph Music further exploring how telegraphic messages can be transformed into new forms of artistic expression.

Operating the modified telegraph key and delivering messages to Antenes and Arad was experienced radio operator and technical engineer, Bernard Grijpstra, a graduate of the Hogere Zeeveart School Amsterdam who served for several years as a radio operator in the Merchant Marines.

Leading up to the performance Antenes met with a collective of former radio operators from Radio Holland, one of The Netherlands oldest radio communication organizations. Through conferring with these life-long telegraphers who lived life on the airwaves around the world, Antenes was able to place telegraphy in the context of the world at large, current society and electronic music.

Future plans for releasing different iterations of Telegraph Music and all new material are in the works. Keep your dials dialed in!