Save the Waves

Octophonic sound installation and live V.L.F. receivers

Next to the Darling Foundry, a huge Hydro-Quebec transformer generates a 60-cycle-per-second hum, the official wavelength of the American power grid. This is the sound of electricity, the contemporary soundtrack of our domestic life. It will be captured by 4 VLF antennas placed in the old foundry.
For the VLF.Nvartual Radio project, I had to travel to remote places since VLF receivers are extremely sensitive to the electromagnetic fields created by power lines. The difficulty that I experienced in finding spots sufficiently isolated from the electrical system led me to experiment with VLF receivers within an urban environment.
4 antennas were installed in the former foundry to capture in real time the perturbations generated by the numerous electrical components nearby. A computer, acting as a simple digital console, would receive the signals from the 4 antennas. A second computer would send commands to the first, and cause the sound signals to oscillate through a software. This software would act as a tuner: it oscillated and circulated the sounds using a simple mathematical formula, that of a sinusoidal curve.
In order to amplify the signal, I constructed a huge octophonic sound system made up of 24 horn loudspeakers. Located at the centre of the foundry, these loudspeakers would broadcast the sounds of the magnetic field in all directions, modulating them in accordance to the wavelengths occasioned by the mathematical formula of the software.
Jean-Pierre Aubé remercie André Théberge, Christian Bouchard, Mathias Delplanque, Emmanuelle Léonard et Michel de Broin