Musica per la radio
a series of concerts conceived for the radio and transmitted exclusively on the radio
Mark Vernon is a Glasgow based artist who explores concepts of audio archaeology, magnetic memory and nostalgia through his sound works. At the core of his practice lies a fascination with the intimacy of the radio voice, environmental sound, obsolete media and the reappropriation of found recordings. A rich collection of domestic tape recordings; audio letters, dictated notes, home sing-alongs, answer-phone messages and other lost voices find their way into his unorthodox soundworlds. These diverse elements are incorporated into radiophonic compositions for broadcast, fixed media and live performances.
His solo music projects have been published through labels including Kye, Glistening Examples, Flaming Pines, Misanthropic Agenda, Entr’acte, Canti Magnetici, 3Leaves and his own meagre resource imprint.
A keen advocate of radio as an art form, he co-runs Glasgow art radio station, Radiophrenia and has produced programmes internationally for stations including Resonance FM, VPRO, CKUT, Sound Art Radio, Kunstradio, Wavefarm, RADIA and the BBC.
Call Back Carousel: Voyages en Grèce
An audio time-travelogue. A found sound road trip. A vicarious vacation.
The basis of this piece is a found reel-to-reel tape labeled ‘Voyage Grèce en 1972’ bought from a flea market in Brussels 15 years ago. As might be expected it is a document of a Belgian family camping holiday to Greece. One side of the tape is an audio diary of sorts documenting the trip moment by moment, much of the time recorded in the car in between destinations it seems. This side runs to an epic 3 hours on long play. The other side is a recorded slide show commentary over a backdrop of traditional Greek music at a more modest 2 hours. Although it becomes apparent that there is a wife (referred to only as ‘bobonne’) and child in tow we only ever hear the voice of the father. They don’t even appear in the background. Maybe they were mic shy or maybe they were just never given a look-in. Either way their absence on the tape is perplexing.
I had been invited to Brussels this summer to make a new radio piece for Radio Picnic’s ‘Musica per la radio’ series. I was also supposed to be going on a family holiday to Greece but because of obvious circumstances neither trip has happened. Out of necessity the production of this radiophonic excursion has been my way of taking a holiday without travelling anywhere –
a sonic souvenir from a vicarious vacation.
In the composition of the piece excerpts from the tape have been combined with my own field recordings from holidays in Greece decades later in 2005 and 2015. Holiday memories of Greece from different times have been transposed on top of one another, intermingle and become confused. In addition, improvisations with a collection of objects selected for their sound making properties that were bought from the flea market at the same time as the tape have also been incorporated.
Special thanks to everyone who helped me with translations: Elina Bry, Selene Mauvis, Jonathan Frigeri, Dinah Nuttall, Anne-Louise Kieran, Sonia Dermience, Inès Guffroy and Meryll Hardt.
Extra thanks to Elina Bry for additional Athens field recordings.