Photo: Bryony McIntyre

Barry Weisblat

Chord of the Fifth Force

All electrical devices produce an electro-magnetic field, which can be picked up by radios: fluorescent lights emit a signal in both the AM and Shortwave range, so if you bring them close enough to a radio, they block out all other signals. Sat atop the receiving radio, the sound of the strip light’s own signal causes them to vibrate and create a feedback loop accross the radio/ audio divide: as the batteries in the lights fade, so does the signal and a dense organic drone is created.

Musician, instrument builder and bon viveur, Barry pays little heed to scenes or movements, working with artists as diverse as Matt Valentine and Sean Meehan, and appearing on the bill of events as contrary/ acclaimed as both the Brattleboro Free Folk and last years Erstquake festivals.  Here’s the lowdown on this installation from the man himself:


"All electrical devices put out an electromagnetic do people by the way....radios receive these fields and radio stations are carried within specific frequencies so that you can tune in to your preferred station. The fluorescent lights that I use are broadband and can be heard on all the AM and Shortwave stations, but when you bring them in close proximity to a radio, the signal from the light is so strong that it is all the radio can make out. Here is where it gets interesting....since the lights are run by batteries the signal is always changing due to the batteries dying and they have parts in the bulbs, like electrodes that physically vibrate which also alter the signal. Now that I have the lights on top of radios placed around the gallery the speakers from the radios vibrate the bulbs causing a feedback loop, but not as in an unruly guitar sort of way but more focused and not over the edge into the discomfort realm...I liken it more to circular breathing techniques from something more like a saxophone and again the size of the speaker has a lot to with the timbres that are revealed. Originally this had been set up with nine radios whose sound came together in a shifting drone type atmosphere, however nothing too similar to a Phill Niblock piece, if you are familiar. It seems to me a bit more organic as all the lights just do their thing."


Thanks to The Nomad's Tent for supplying the antique persian rug for the installation.

  • Video - Edit

    Credits / license
    • Video - Gayle Meikle