Tuesday, August 25, 2020

LIVE from Lockdown 3: World Listening Day 2020

Mixed live on World Listening Day 2020, July 18, 2020. You can read my thoughts on this year’s theme: “The Collective Field”, here. This mix collects the Black spaces and Green spaces of Black neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago, from hydrophone recordings of marsh land at Marian R. Byrnes Park and Big Marsh to picnics at Washington Park and neighborhood parties. 

When we say Black Lives Matter then Black space matters, Black Sound matters, then sounds we make, hear, live with and create matter and must not be dismissed or denigrated before they are heard. This is what I tell myself. We need our creativity and sensitivity. I haven’t led  soundwalks since the lockdown. However, I have been recording our prairie and have many recordings of an urban community with a wildlife reserve. The prairie is located between Jeffery Manor, a residential neighborhood in Chicago, IL and a large rail yard. This area is also called the calumet region and was once inhabited by Indigenous tribes of Miami, Potawatomi, and Illinois. There has been a lack of investment and dis-investement we have struggled with over decades.This community has suffered tremendous loss of local economy and ecology over many years. Recording during a pandemic gave me a chance to reflect on the sound of crisis in an area lacking economic investment. We must be present while we fight for our future. This is a time of expansion and liberation. These recordings offer us a way to listen to communities of color by listening for the ecological, economic and residential life that make up the community to decolonize our listening according to Jennifer Lynn Stoever(The Sonic Color Line) is “to listen to and out for each other” and (to add) our environment. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

LIVE from Lockdown 2: The Quarantine Concerts July 3, 2020

July 4, 2009 I recorded my neighbors setting off fireworks in our alley. I submitted the recording for a compilation on the sound of recession. This summer of 2020, I was invited for ESS' Quarantine Concerts July 3 event by Katinka Kleijn. For this performance the context is the crisis of pandemic, recession and police violence towards African-American citizens. With this on my mind I performed a mix of recordings of my neighborhood and electronic improvisations to expand and decolonize our listening. I open with bells and fireworks to blast away bad spirits.

LIVE from Lockdown 1: Quarantine Concert April 1, 2020

Due to technical issues, I couldn't get my Ableton Live to work on OBS/ twitch, so my set changed from field recordings to "dub-noise" at the very last minute. I usually attribute solo noise, drone, ambient, beat based performances to eXU-9. eXU-9 takes it's machine name from  Exu, Papa Legba, Cybotron, Model 500, UR, X-101, X-102. Sound inspired by MF BASS, Wave form Transmissions I & III, Interstellar Space, Space is The Place, Pulse Demon,  Butoh, Great Black Music and Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi Projects. It is both a machine and a hyper-sygil for liberation, disobedience, transformation and self-care/acceptance. It also gives me space to explore sound beyond logic and language. This set was improvised with real time frustration with my set up. In the end this was just me showing up, dealing with setbacks and performing anyway. I prefer listening to this set on headphones. 

Saturday, June 13, 2020

World Listening Day 2020 - The Collective Field, Reflections & Recordings by Norman W. Long

You are invited to participate in World Listening Day 2020, an annual global event held every July 18.
This year’s theme is THE COLLECTIVE FIELD created by Wild Sanctuary Vice President, Katherine Krause.

The Collective Field
There is something new afoot. The field itself is changing.
The creature world knows.  The creative one does too. 
So what does it mean now to listen? How do we express what we know?
Be alert.
Individually and in concert,
There is sanctity in it.
Amid new conditions, travel the field and explore
By call and response
The rhythm within. 
How does your song fit
Within the collective chorus?

World Listening Day 2020 - The Collective Field: Thoughts & Recordings by Norman W. Long:

I do not know what it means to listen now. But it is a good question as I sit and listen to a community isolated from the rest of the city of Chicago. I live in South Deering, a community on the south-east side of Chicago. It is a majority Black and Brown community that straddles residential, industrial and wasted space. Single family homes surrounded by land fills, factories, rail yards, brown fields, and un/underused industrial structures. Most work sites are still open (if they haven't been abandoned due to disinvestment), many in the community have been given essential (sacrificial) worker status leaving themselves vulnerable to COVID-19 while many others are unemployed due to work stoppages and lay-offs. During the isolation order, I was able to walk and record my local nature trail. This trail opened in my neighborhood last fall. It was converted from an open space wetland/prairie with no community access to Marian R. Byrnes Park on the south-east side of Chicago with walking trails. The prairie is located between a residential neighborhood and a large rail yard. It was my intention along with my creative partner Sara Zalek to lead a soundwalk at Byrnes Park before the stay at home order was implemented. I’ve led several soundwalks here in Chicago and elsewhere. One of the exercises I introduce to the group before we start our walk is a breathing exercise where we focus on our breath by concentrating on our inhalations and exhalations. Before I did any walking meditation or performing, I started with breathing exercises. That was the foundation for my practice of self-care, listening, composing and performing. Disconnection is a process. That process is fueled by white supremacy and capitalism. African Americans experience and witness this disconnection to our environment, economy, sense of self and place. With these walks we are brought back to our bodies, our time and our space. I invite you to listen as part of the collective field because as we listen and sound we expand our awareness of our connection and disconnection. 
This mindfulness practice of breathing brought me back to the COVID-19 respiratory virus, and the murder of George Floyd. Both of these instances African Americans are more vulnerable to contract the virus and more likely to be murdered by police.  There is also the fact that most areas with high rates of air pollution and toxicity are overwhelmingly poor and African-American. When we breathe we are mindful of our mind/body/land connection, our connection to each other and our connection to those who cannot breathe. We can breathe for them and listen to the streets, the noises and disruptions and join in the chorus that demands justice for Black and Brown people all over the world.

Marian R. Byrnes Park, Chicago, IL May 06, 2020


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Recorded on March 17, 2020 at Marian R. Byrnes Park, Jeffery Manor, Chicago, IL.

Marian R. Byrnes Park, one of the newest parks opened by the Chicago Park district is an open space and greyfield transformed into a park with trails. This open space has been in the neighborhood for decades. The entrance being a little league baseball diamond and an open wildlife area my neighborhood friends would often explore in the late 70’s and early 80’s. As the South Deering community went further into depression due to the steel industry leaving the area, the diamond was abandoned, neighbors and businesses moved away and we were left with open space that was not cared for and was an illegal dump site, very much like Big Marsh by the mid 80’s. It wasn’t until spring of 2007 when my interest in the prairie would be sparked by the screening of Chicago: City of the Big Shoulders. Dir. Harry Wiland. Prod. Beverly Baroff. Media Policy Center, 2006. Alexander Street Database. Web. at Cornell University’s City and Regional Planning graduate student social. This video featured my neighbors including Mrs. Byrnes and their activation of the open space then called Van Vlissingen Prairie. She engaged the community with trails she and her neighbors made as well as guided tours of the prairie for elementary school students. Upon returning to Chicago during the 2008 recession I volunteered at the Southeast Environmental Task Force of the South Deering community inspired by Mrs. Byrnes with hopes of working in the field landscape architecture and restoring, repairing sites like Van Vlissingen Prairie.

What inspired me to listen, record and compose sounds of my community is the unique soundscape, ecology, of a Black and Brown community that is often ignored by the city when it comes to funding and resources. The prairie is located between a residential neighborhood and a large rail yard. There has been a lack of investment and dis-investement we have struggled with over decades.This community has suffered tremendous loss of local economy and ecology over many years. Recording during a pandemic gave me a chance to reflect on the sound of crisis in an area lacking economic investment. These recordings offer us a way to listen to communities of color by listening for the ecological, economic and residential life that make up the community. Bird (red-wing black birds) and tree frog choruses, trains at the Norfolk Southern Calumet Rail yard arriving, departing, connecting, loading and unloading, traffic from 103rd St and neighbors bordering the east side of the park comprise the soundscape. I am also recording in a public space that focuses on the health and resiliency of the ecology and local residents, (with affordable handheld devices) as a member of the community and as a Black man economically affected by this pandemic. The recording process is also part of a practice of self care that includes walking and listening meditation. While this practice is useful in times of crisis (personal or social)  it is equally effective during times of stability. 

Espinoza/Long Duo

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Alternate History of the San Francisco Art Institute Part 3: Thematics

Thematics is a compilation of recordings made in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1999-2001. This album features, data bent sounds, granular synthesis and digital sound processing. Thematics is built around the general theme of desire and is influenced by writings of Samuel R. Delany, Jacques Derrida, Kathy Acker, Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, the performance art of Jade Blue Eclipse and Annie Sprinkle.

Alternate History of the San Francisco Art Institute Part 2

Untitled, 2000, Diego Rivera Gallery, SF, CA

Alternate History of the San Francisco Art Institute Part 1

March 23, 2020
Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, and Supporters,
Over the past many months, the leadership of SFAI has been aggressively pursuing a number of strategies that would ensure long-term financial sustainability for our school, in hopes of setting the stage for a new era of growth as we approached our 150thanniversary.
Foremost among the options we considered was the possibility of merging or collaborating with another larger educational institution with the scale and resources necessary to help us survive, prosper and grow in today’s hypercompetitive landscape. Our goal was to find a partner that would share our values and vision, as well as honor, support and advance our long-standing commitment to the teaching of art and artists. We identified several potential partners, and that process led to formal and very promising negotiations with two of the Bay Area’s finest institutions of higher learning.
We regret to say that those talks reached an impasse this past week, in no small measure due to the unanticipated hardships and uncertainty wrought by the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, as each partner turned its undivided attention to the immediate and still unknown future impacts on their campus communities. This development raised immediate concerns about our ability to reach a deal during the initial timeline that was contemplated.
As a result, SFAI’s leadership has no clear path to admit a class of new students for the fall of 2020. Given our current financial situation, and what we expect to be a precipitous decline in enrollment due to the pandemic, we are now considering the suspension of our regular courses and degree programs starting immediately after graduation in May of this year. At this time, it is unclear when instruction will resume, and in what form, pending our efforts to secure additional funding and potentially resume our talks with educational partners. 
What does this mean for our current students?
Remote and virtual instruction at SFAI will continue through the end of the Spring 2020 semester, so that all students have an opportunity to earn appropriate credits for their work.  Graduating BFA, MFA, and MA students should expect to receive their degrees in May as scheduled. All other provisions in place to address COVID-19 remain in effect, including the cancellation of BFA/MFA exhibitions and commencement.
We are in negotiations with our faculty and staff unions now about the feasibility of continuing classes and degree programs in Summer/Fall 2020, hoping to have a final resolution as soon as we can. Given where we are in the admissions cycle, we understand that the prospect of class suspension just months away presents a formidable timing challenge for our current students who had planned to continue their education SFAI uninterrupted, but in the interest of shared governance we are committed to working with our staff and faculty to make the right decision for all. In the meantime, continuing students may choose to pursue placement at another school with our help, starting immediately and we encourage you to do so. Staff is available to work one-on-one with each of you over the coming days and weeks to smooth the transition beyond SFAI, resolving issues related to tuition, student aid, housing, graduation and transferring credits to other programs so that your education in the arts can continue as seamlessly as possible.
What does this mean for our faculty and staff?
In the next few days all faculty and staff will receive notifications that layoffs are planned for end of this semester, as required by state law and in light of the current financial crisis and still-unknown impacts of COVID-19. SFAI leadership is already in discussions with our unions about the timing and terms of any layoffs, and more information will be forthcoming shortly.
Over the coming days and weeks our leadership team will also be convening unit-level conference calls and virtual meetings with employees to discuss and coordinate completion of this semester’s activities, and establish a virtual “one stop shop” for employees to understand their options and access to benefits.
What does this mean for SFAI moving forward?
In our long history, SFAI has survived countless calamitous events – none more dramatic than the 1906 earthquake that destroyed our first home on Nob Hill. Out of that disaster we emerged stronger than ever, establishing a world-class art institution that has since reinvented itself time and time again, endeavoring always to be at the forefront of new genres, new media, new means and modes of expression, always willing to take chances and risk failure in the passionate pursuit of art making. 
Today we as an institution are facing a new set of challenges that will force us to evolve, and in the months and years ahead our goal will be to reinvent ourselves once again, perhaps taking a new form for a new era, but unwavering in the commitment to art and artists we have sustained over the past 149 years. While we remain hopeful there is a strategic partnership that will allow this commitment to continue, we are realistic that this will not happen any time soon in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic.   

Gordon Knox                                                    Pam Rorke Levy
President                                                         Chair, Board of Trustees

Monday, February 17, 2020

Steelworkers' Drone


Reserve Matinee, Sara Zalek  and I are proud to announce the cassete and download release of Steeworkers’ Drone. Sara and I  have been improvising movement, sound and listening in various permutations, places and materials since 2015. This is my second release with Reserve Matinee, the first was a compilation of works from my Dubcology series https://reservematinee.bandcamp.com/album/electro-acoustic-dubcology-i-iv. I am grateful for having the opportunity to share some of our work with you. Thank you for your time and thank you for listening.  And thanks to Mia Capodilupo for having us perform at Ignition Project Space!


  1. Dialogues (Ignition Project Space, January 27, 2018)
Inspired by Pauline Oliveros' Environmental Dialogue (1996 Revision), this is an extension of her composition (2018 Revision). Resonating the Ignition Project Space with breath, rhythm and subtle sound from little synths, sheet metal, paper, and amplified environmental sounds. We welcomed the New Year by reinforcing collective listening with the audience, with the intent of listening for the unknown and heightening our experience of time and the present moment. 

  1. Rust Canopy Transference (Steelworkers Park, April 10, 2018)
    Our first exploration into Steelworkers Park, after having led some soundwalks together at Big Marsh with the following questions/prompts. Memory + Imagination + Presence. How to be in a place that is new and old? How do we understand this place? It was a gray day, about 45 degrees. We found large machine parts on the manicured part of the grounds, and chose to amplify our sounds within them, to hear our interactions with each other and the instruments that these giant parts had become. Norman used his Korg synth kit and amplifier, Sara used her phone app Saucillator.

  1. Listening for Resilience (Big Marsh, July 20, 2019)
A Soundwalk for Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology Night out in the Parks Program. For three years, we have researched and led interested participants through the trails at Big Marsh, to see and hear how the landscape is changing over time.  During our walk, we performed listening and breathing exercises with our group. We also provided water for hydration. All to prepare them to focus on the soundscape especially on a very hot day. We walked on newly formed shaded paths for the afternoon. We had two clearings for stopping and listening. One listening station where participants could hear amplified network of insects in the undergrowth through headphones connected to a recorder and contact microphones. The second station was a natural pavilion for Sara’s performance with a large salvaged metal sheet and accompaniment from Norman with field recordings and iPhone app. After the performance, we reflected on the resilience of the local ecology and soundscape. We led a discussion about resilience in the context of ecological restoration, community disinvestment, immigration and education. 

  1. Loveship Unfolding Threshold Terrain (Steelworkers Park, July 30, 2018)
A second trip to Steelworkers Park, toward sunset, on a midsummer day. Some artworks and collections of slag materials had been installed since our previous trip, as well as the climbing wall. We found one of the machine parts we had explored inside had been sealed off. Where we had once been able to climb inside was no longer accessible to anyone. We took to the shoreline of the park for this recording. Norman used a battery powered benjolin synth to improvise with the natural soundscape. Sara used the slag rock, a magnet and amplifier.


These tracks exemplify our work as a duo, Sara Zalek and Norman W. Long. Our actions and recordings were carried out at Steelworkers Park and Big Marsh, once home to US Steel and Wisconsin Steel respectively, two of several Steel Mills that were located on the South East Side of the city. What we saw were urban ruins full of new natural growth. Ore walls, giant boulders of slag, and large factory components to giant machines splayed in this public space at Steelworkers Park, which is now a park and a memorial. With our actions and recordings, we reflect on the steel industry, and the corporate disinvestment which changed an entire community. Once, the neighborhoods around these isolated giants thrived. When they left, they left the ghost of industry and a greyfield terrain. Over a period of years, the area slowly devolved into empty streets and abandoned buildings. The city of Chicago memorialized these particular parks in 2014 and 2016. The story keeps evolving as this area continues to transform, there is still an in-between feeling here, an area not deemed worthy of investment by developers. There is a decades long desire for improvement and investment from the community but questions about specific plans remain.

Sara Zalek is an artist, curator, and healer rooted in physical investigations of trauma and resilience, seeking models for growth personally and collectively. Their work challenges the quest for the eternal elixir, and promotes the intentional act of disruption to create social and ecological change. Sara performs live often and in multitudinous situations; she has been a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist in 2015, participant in the Regional Dance Development Initiative 2016, and Ragdale Fellow in 2017. They have performed and curated at the Chicago Cultural Center, Elastic Arts, Experimental Sound Studio, Links Hall, Chicago Architecture Biennale, Elevate Chicago Dance, Lumpen Radio, OuterSounds, OuterSpace Studios, and are an active board/member of the Runaways Lab Theater. www.saratonin.com

Norman W. Long’s practice involves walking, listening, improvising, performing, recording and composing to create environments and situations in which he and the audience are engaged in dialogues about memory space, value, silence and the invisible.  Norman finds inspiration in the Creative Music and electric imaginations of The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra, Pauline Oliveros, Phuture, Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi, Hildegard Westercamp and King Tubby. Norman Long has performed and exhibited at the Hyde Park Art Center, Experimental Sound Studio, Kavi Gupta Gallery, Links Hall, Elastic, Chicago Humanities Festival, Chicago Cultural Center and 2017 PRIZM Art Fair (Miami). Norman performs with Angel Bat Dawid and the Brothahood and has performed with Damon Locks, Standing On the Corner, Dan Bitney and Todd Carter.  intothebreaks.blogspot.com


Postindustrial remnants scraped from an epicenter of rebirthed decay in South Chicago.

A psychogeographical assemblage sourced and performed in a way that gives insight into the industrial technologies of a bygone age which has generated real social realities in our City’s most liminal spaces. An auditory chronicle of the spectacle’s departure from industrial sites and unto new forms of extraction and exploitation made possible by the rise of digital virtual marketplaces.

Steelworkers Park Summer 2018

Steelworkers Park Summer 2018

Steelworkers Park Spring 2018

LIVE from Lockdown 3: World Listening Day 2020

normanlong · WLD2 2020 Mixed live on World Listening Day 2020, July 18, 2020. You can read my thoughts on this year’s theme: “The Collecti...