Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Long/Elmore Duo - September 23, 2017

Angel Elmore – Clarinet

Norman W. Long – Electronics, Field Recordings

Recorded at Ignition Project Space, September 23, 2017
Performance was part of the closing reception for Van Vlissingen Prairie (Video Album) Installation

Long/Elmore Duo improvised with soundscapes from Van Vlissingen Prairie, Jeffery Manor, Big Marsh and Humboldt Park.

Performance explores ways of understanding, being and connecting to ecology and the unknown. Through breath, space, memory, time and machines. How time collapses and folds in on itself and triggers new realities and roads to travel. Is it OK to have an imagination in these times?

This is a convergence of traditions, non-traditions, experiences and sound making to create other black music.  After listening we realize these convergences happen more than we think.

Thanks to Ignition Project Space, Mia Capodilupo and Doug Dewitt

Big Marsh Soundwalks and Performances

Memory + Imagination + Presence

How to be in a place that is new and old?

How do I understand this place?

How do we understand this place?


When we do a soundwalk we prepare by noticing our breath, we listen to the closest things around us. Then we walk and listen to changes however slight. Acknowledge how we change the soundscape with each step and how the soundscape changes within Big Marsh.
I started listening and recording as Big Marsh changed from a superfund “brownfield” site that was once home to “Slag and Ballast Company”, part of a network of factories, plants and mills for much of the 20th Century to a remediated natural area and bike park. I think the condition of the soundscape reflects the condition of the community. It was my goal to reintroduce people to a new soundscape that is of the south side of Chicago. Where industry, once the backbone of the economy is gone and the natural ecology being allowed to come back. There maybe a new future with the loss of industry. With these walk we open new paths.


Sara Zalek’s movement, a living breathing palimsest, to stand on old industry, existing between the wind and the ground. New life. Ghosts of Industry. Native ecology remixed.


Sounds from battery powered hand-made synthesizer invoking the ghosts of industry and versioned nature. Improvised sounds navigating between the soundscape of the emerging ecology and the remnants of an existing industrial soundscape.


Movement / Electronics. Two realities converge and then fall out of synch. Jellyfish leftover from the drosscape. Improvised movements and frequencies carried by the wind over the marshland ecologies.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Electro-Acoustic Ecology Improvisation - LIVE @ Big Marsh

11599 S Stony Island Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60607

Norman W. Long (MSAE) and Sara Zalek (Butoh Chicago) will lead a soundwalk focusing on movement with nature. This performance/walk will deal with themes of repair, recovery and resilience. Norman and Sara will perform a duo of electronic music improvisation and movement as part of the soundwalk.

A soundwalk is a guided exploration of a site using listening focused skills. We will listen to how the site sounds, as we are moving through it. I believe that through listening we have a tool to define communities and ourselves. We also can use those tools to shape who we are and where we live. We will be listening for changes, interactions, conditions, weather, traffic, animals, insects, people, vehicles and other factors in what makes a place what it is. Our performances are an example of how we can creatively engage a soundscape through listening, movement, meditation, amplification and improvisation.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Van Vlissingen Prairie Video Album @ Ignition Project Space

Van Vlissingen Prairie (Video Album)
a video and sound installation

September 3 - 29, 2017 - Opening Saturday, September 9, 5-7pm

Ignition Project Space, 3839 W. Grand Ave. #1, Chicago, IL 60651


Van Vlissingen Prairie (Video Album) is a single channel video installation with projection and speaker placements featuring the sound ecology of Van Vlissingen Prairie within the South Deering community area on the South-Side of Chicago. South Deering is majority African-American and Latinx. Home to the Joseph H. Brown Iron and Steel Company in 1875( to be known later as Wisconsin Steel). South Deering was a major industrial hub attracting Irish, Welsh, and English workers at first, followed by Swedes and Germans. After 1900, new settlers arrived from Eastern and Southern Europe. African Americans and Mexicans came following the civil-rights laws banning discrimination in housing and employment. When the mills began shutting down, the community fell into a deep economic depression with many families relocating to other states.

It was my response to a LOUDSPKR/Volume artist call for sounds of the recession in 2009 that started my interest in recording my neighborhood (South Deering/Jeffery Manor). The question of what is the sound of recession haunted me for a couple of days. Especially since I am one of many African Americans who had been hardest hit by this recession and lives on the South-Side of Chicago, which is predominately African American. The recording of my neighbors setting off firecrackers, roman candles, etc. in the rain is a response to the economic silencing a recession does to a community. I see/hear the fireworks as a celebration of existence more than a celebration of freedom, liberty and or patriotism.

My interest in Van Vlissingen Prairie or the Marian R. Byrnes Natural Area stemmed from a screening of a short documentary I saw while attending graduate school at Cornell University. This particular documentary was about Byrnes’ successful attempt to preserve local prairie land from being built on by the Chicago Transit Authority. The City of Chicago does plan on restoring the prairie and installing trails in the future. My interest also lies in the progression of the ecological restoration and maintenance of this space. My expectation, as the site is restored via soil remediation, walking paths created, removal of invasive plant species, and introduction of native species the soundscape will also change incrementally. There has been a controlled burn recently. Shortly after the burn I made audio recordings from contact microphones placed within the scorched earth. This is one of the examples of field recordings I have made for this video album. In some pieces I mixed field recordings with analog synthesizers weaving in and out of the post industrial noise coming from the adjacent rail yard, local residences and the local ecology of birds and singing insects. This soundtrack questions the notion of what a Black Community sounds like and what a community is. These videos challenge notions of landscape by bypassing the pictorial and the beautiful, defining landscape as a complex matrix of networks and systems. Some videos are glitched referring to the less than ideal landscapes and soundscape conditions and the layering and slippage of time. By challenging the traditional way of documenting and defining landscape we begin to listen to how soundscapes define our communities and who we are.