Thursday, December 15, 2016

at the beach

nwlong live at water music from normanwlong on Vimeo.

Homemade Rainstick w/sand and rocks from 63rd St. Beach, Jackson PK, played at Lane Park Beach performed at Water Music on the Beach festival.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


I am deeply hurt by this tragedy in Oakland. These artists these people did not deserve to die this way.  I didn’t know anyone who died but just because of who they were and what they do, did not mean they had to live, work and play in such poor conditions. These people gathered there because there weren’t many other places to live and work. The reason why we call art a practice is because you have to do it over and over to get what you want out of it. But if you’re poor, “different” and your practice or work doesn’t cater to those in power or have influence, your options are limited. And we make the best out of those limitations. I’m sure that night was like any other night where they had an opportunity to share their work and have fun.

I’m writing this to myself, and particularly those who are not poor and not artists. I remember growing up in the 80’s where callousness was embedded in me. I grew up with that thing of if you were different in any way from your group or community you gave up your right for respect, education, mentorship and protection. I can’t help but think of those times, how it could have been me in that fire, and how this culture of cruelty laid the groundwork for this tragedy and the very real tragedy that is our housing system.  As an artist and as someone who has worked in a housing non-profit, I can say that this kind of tragedy can happen anywhere and anytime.  The availability for low-income and affordable housing for artists, the poor, working poor, ex-felons, the disabled and veterans is virtually non-existent. Opportunities for veterans have improved over the years but not for anyone else (in Chicago). Reports say the CHA is sitting on millions of dollars that could be used for vouchers or building new homes. This situation leaves people like me very vulnerable. Some stay with family or friends. Some get involved in shady rental deals and get swindled out of rent money by building owners and bogus landlords. Some squat and die in fires due to negligence because they’re just artists and they should have gotten a “real job”. For us it is a real job. Maybe our second or third but it is very real and most of us work very hard at it. Some of us get weeded out by HR, ED’s, curators, bookers, professors, teachers, elders, family, gatekeepers, gallery directors and critics, but we keep going. We make opportunities and spaces for ourselves. We don’t wait for someone to give us permission to do what we do, to hire us, book us or curate us. We deserve respect and protection for what we do.  Why should we have to put our lives in danger just to do our art? We deserve nothing less than a right to fair housing.

Monday, December 5, 2016


I've wanted to show this work I'd done 16 years ago at a graduate program that will not be named for some time now. I also wanted to write about why I don't do this kind of work anymore. The images are about memory, race, gender and capitalism ( a timely topic). I paired images from my childhood and "gangsta haiku" text I lifted from the internet. These pieces illustrate how black male identity is shaped through capitalism, consumerism and sexism. The video below from ArchDuke deconstructs how black male is perceived and told what and how to think at a young age. This video inspired me to look back on this work and provide a proper context. My images were made as a critique of identity and capitalism and how violence is done to young black men that limits their sense of self. The text obscures, commodifies and simplifies the complexities of black subjectivity and everyday life.

These pieces were  an important part of my artistic development and crucial for my recovery. At that time my work was inspired by writings from bell hooks, Cornel West, Greg Tate, Samuel R. Delaney, Ralph Ellison, Amiri Baraka and art from Carrie Mae Weems, Isaac Julien, Marlon Riggs, Felix Gozales-Torres and Paul D. Miller.  However the problem was that my work hinged on confirming sexist, white supremacist, capitalist hegemony. Also this work was mostly seen by whites who were quick to chuckle, categorize and passive-aggressively dismiss my practice as about cultural theory and nostalgia. But my interests didn't strictly lie in illustrating or confirming this violence of sexism and consumerism done to the development of the black male identity. It was in the affirmative energy of Great Black Music of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, DJ Mixes of Larry Levan, the writings of Samuel R. Delaney, and the many improvised, experimental and electronic musicians I was listening to at the time. With sound, I was also able to create spaces with sound and objects that did not exploit black pain. Plus, there were a lot of young black artists who made better work about race anyway. I was especially interested in digital sound processing and field recording and how that lends itself to the affirmation of my existence as a black artist, the complexities of my subjectivity time and space. It was also a chance to use my own body as a performer / DJ who does not "serve" or "entertain". This change was not taken well in the grad program I attended. I was promptly put on probation until my last semester, was goaded in to fighting a tenured professor ( I didn't take the bait!) and local curators avoided me. But somehow I still showed and performed in the Bay Area and worked with some great people who are still friends today. But make no mistake, being yourself is a very dangerous thing as a black artist, it is very lonely, hard work and I have suffered dearly for this. I thank my friends and family for their support. I am truly blessed and would not be here if not for them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Water Music On The Beach 2016

Water Music On The Beach 2016

Thorndale Beach

Sunday, Sept. 11


Current & Upcoming Projects — 6018|North

I'm very excited to be performing this coming Sunday with such a great line-up!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

World Listening Day - Soundwalks- Reflections

After participating in this year’s World Listening Day programs this weekend I began to reflect on what lead me to my involvement. I rarely talk about what exactly lead to my interests in soundwalks, soundscapes and composition, because I felt they were too personal. Especially when I’m talking about practices in sound art and acoustic ecology many deem as esoteric and inaccessible. But the roots of my practice came from a toxic climate of race, economics, violence, politics and place that we experience today. I moved from Chicago to Oakland, California in 1998 to study art in San Francisco at the height of the first dot-com boom. I was there to have time and space to be a better artist and for self-recovery. Unfortunately, most people I had dealings with there treated me as if I was there to take their spot in the art scene, take jobs, housing and opportunity away from them. All this, while still being treated as a degraded other, in particular being harassed by the Oakland Police Department.

 I continued to make art and work with very little space, time, resources or friends for the next few years. The few friends I had offered some relief while making art in arguably the hippest place on earth at the time. But my practice and chronic underemployment at the time offered diminishing returns. My health deteriorated, as I had taken too many trips to the emergency room and I couldn’t do what I needed to do to as an artist.

 After a debilitating panic attack sending me on my last and most expensive trip to the emergency room after my first two-person show opened in Oakland I knew I needed to let go of a lot of the fear and frustration amassed due to violence, underemployment, racism and loneliness. I checked out books on mindfulness and Zen. I found walking meditation the best practice to me of letting go. I also became more creative, present and focused in my daily life. I also felt connected, grounded to the space I sat or walked. Through meditation I felt that this was finally my apartment, my park and my city. As I was still composing and making art, I definitely was becoming more mindful of the sounds I was hearing when I was meditating in my apartment or walking around Lake Merritt on my days off. I decided to record more of my walks. I began to think of my recordings as art. These recordings are connections (to what, I didn’t know at the time). That these everyday things I recorded while walking are as significant as any of the art being produced, bought and sold in the Bay Area.

As I reflect on World Listening Day, I am also thinking of how soundwalks can be connective and empowering especially for people of color. When so many of us are angered and/or fearful of what we see and what has been done to us I feel that finding time to walk, breathe and listen quiets the mind. Along with seeking safe places and support communities, these walks empower us to be present and courageous.

I write this in response to these violent times. Upon my reflection, through breathing, walking, listening, I was able to quiet my mind. I was one with the ground I stood, the air I breathe and the sounds I hear. Making sure I was present when my presence was (and is) at best problematic.

Many thanks to all who supported me!

Sounds 2004-2005

Live Performance, Southern Exposure Gallery, San Francisco, Oct 2004

Sound Installation, "Oceanic Memories", Artists’ Television Access, Bayennale, San Francisco, July 2005

Artists Television Access Blog, In Transit: Chinese New Year in Black History Month

Sunday, May 8, 2016

BelAir Radio Presents Norman W. Long Re/Presencing Performance & DJ set

This is a radio performance of soundscapes layered upon soundscapes from Jackson Park and 63rd St Beach, time folded in on itself with echoes of Ida B. Wells writings on the absence of the black body at this site mixed with recordings from Lou Harrison, Artistic Heritage Ensemble, Exploding Star Orchestra,  Robert AA Lowe, Anthony Braxton and Josh Abrams. My expectation is that this piece gives us the space to contemplate and meditate on our own presence.

            Jackson Park was an integral part of the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. Ida B. Wells published  “THE REASON WHY The Colored American is not in the World's Columbian Exposition. The Afro-American's Contribution to Columbian Literature”            
            This pamphlet protests the absence of African-Americans at the fair and also protests the booming prison industrial complex and lynching of black men all across America.  She also highlights the progress of African Americans since the emancipation as equally important and intertwined with the progress of America. Recently, there has been an effort to restore the dune ecology at the 63rd Street beach, and the restoration of the Wooded Isle. Jackson Park and the beach is also an active hub for recreation and cultural activity in the community. I have been recording a diverse body of programmatic, architectural and ecological spaces that comprise Jackson Park. The Rebuild Foundation is a key factor in the cultural, architectural and urban restoration of the communities surrounding Jackson Park. These programs and site offers us a re-presencing  in the face of an abscencing of the black body due to violence, corrupt criminal justice system and the prison industrial complex.

re/presencing - Norman W. Long

Double Concerto: Epicuros - Double concerto : for violin and cello with Javanese gamelan - Lou
Harrison - Soundscapes [sound recording] : works by Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell, Paul Reale -

re/presencing - Norman W. Long

Make Way To The City / The Arc Of Slavery #72, Galactic Parables: Volume 1 - Exploding Star Orchestra

re/presencing - Norman W. Long

Magick Creek - We Know Each Other Somehow - Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe* & Ariel Kalma

re/presencing - Norman W. Long

On The Beach - On The Beach- Philip Cohran And The Artistic Heritage Ensemble

re/presencing - Norman W. Long

Represencing - Represencing - Joshua Abrams

re/presencing - Norman W. Long

Side 1 Cut 2 - Creative Orchestra Music 1976 - Anthony Braxton

Walking 2 - for hyde park - Norman W. Long

Saturday, March 26, 2016

for hyde park

This is a compilation of synth improvisations played with field recordings I've made from Hyde Park 2010-2012. I'm exploring performance set ups where I do not need to work from my laptop during performances. I'd like to step away from using my laptop temporarily for artistic, financial and security reasons. 

I've been exploring analog synthesizers and improvising with them since January of this year. Last year I was able to buy a Korg LittleBits synth kit from a radio shack that was going out of business. My initial interest was exploring ways I can incorporate this kit in installations with its clicks, drones and rhythms. My inspiration for these installations center around the work of Rolf Julius and African and Afro Caribbean Altars. 

Time passed and I didn't have a studio space anymore so I shelved that idea. However I was still listening and thinking about how I wanted my work to sound. An important thing to think about! I was not happy with how I was manipulating my samples on my computer. I wasn't able to use the midi controllers the way I wanted in a live situation and when I did i wasn't happy with the range of sounds I was getting from my mangled samples. So I experimented with my synth kit and found that the synths were easier and more fun to control and improvise with my field recording samples. 

At this point I should probably shed some light on the "in to the breaks" quote and how it fits in with my interest in dub processing and black subjectivity. The key term in the above quote is slippage. You're between nodes of time standing still and moving ahead. Slipping between being on beat or off.  I have used the sounds and processes of both dub and the many glitch genres that have popped up in art and music as a point of departure from the idea of slipping in to the breaks. 

But what about black subjectivity? Is my work about race? As far as black subjectivity goes, I think there is a slippage between an awareness of self and DuBois' double consciousness. The uses of echo, delay and other technology by reggae producers like King Tubby exemplify this idea that consciousness, identity and memory are fluid and synchronic. Bringing this back to my work. My field recordings (and sound walks) can be seen as performances that are then remixed and re-presented. Meaning that there is no fixed way of representing those actions. More on this later. 

One more thing. Is my work about race? Not all the time but I have to be conscious of place, memory and identity and how that affects race, gender and sexuality as I have to work with others who may not be like myself. More on this later.

For these sessions, I used arturia's microbrute analog synth, korg little bits synth kit, korg monotron delay, sony pcm m-10 and a behringer eurorack 602A mixer

Monday, March 14, 2016

'scapes - videos

'scapes from normanwlong on Vimeo.

‘scapes incorporates the sound and cultural landscape of the West Loop and Union Park in Chicago to present an improvised experience and installation. I am making strange the very familiar via process field recording, sound-walks, mapping, and audio/visual processing. By incorporating glitch and dub technology into my objects, video, and sound components sourced from the area, I am “versioning” the West Loop, offering an alternate way of moving through personal and public space.

spectroscape from normanwlong on Vimeo.

Spectroscape, 2015
Video from spectroscope that reads chemicals in the air, sound is sourced from reader that converts spectra to sound.

Mapping , 2015
Glitched maps of Norman’s studio and the surrounding neighborhood