Show 974: Five Motley Exchanges by Peter Blamey for diffusionfm

Peter Blamey, Five Motley Exchanges (2023)

photovoltaic (solar) panel, guitar pickup, biscuit tin lid, portable amplifier, 3-volt electric motor, crank torch, laser pointer

1. Flies interrupt the sunlight reaching a submerged solar panel.

2. Water flows over, around and through a guitar pickup stuck to a biscuit tin lid.

3. A small electric motor produces current as it is rolled over rocks then dropped into the creek.

4. Crank torches shine on a solar panel wedged in flowing water.

5. Cascading water defects laser light directed at a submerged solar panel, before sunlight breaks through the cloud cover.

Five Motley Exchanges documents several performances along a short stretch of Stony Creek, a small waterway on Darug land in Sydney’s north. Like many similar locations across the metropolitan area, this spot is valued by locals as green space, but otherwise seems subject to neglect. Native plants, fungi and animals (insects, birds, lizards, possums, fruit bats and the occasional wallaby) mix with introduced flora and a range of anthropogenic factors, including garbage (plastic, metal, ceramic, timber), cut branches and trunks left to rot, runoff from roads and drains, and noise from nearby bridge traffic and overhead planes, making it a rich and mingled place.

These five performances are interactions between me, a small bunch of devices, and the creek itself, together realising a somewhat variegated or motley range of energetic responses. Water flows over, on and sometimes through the devices (at times activating their resonant properties), as the same time as they register the effects of both sunlight and artificial light, of landforms and gravity, and of my own physical contributions (cranking, pointing, holding, dragging and rolling, etc.), combining the rush of natural energies with the hiss and hum of electronics. Their outputs were often simultaneously amplified into the surrounding space, muddling things further by introducing noises sourced from under the water into the air.

Some of these interactions push the physical limits and operational logic of the devices involved, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the sounds produced were fairly unruly. The work here retains much of their rough and ready character (after all, why shave a cactus?). Together, the materials, the creek and me engage with a poetics found in transduction. Sunlight and lasers mingle underwater, with insects and amp hiss, electrical crackle and splashing cascades.

Extra special thanks go to DiffusionFM for the invitation to produce this work.

Peter Blamey is an artist based in Sydney, Australia, on Gadigal land. His practice is often sound-focussed and accomplished via an economy of means, and includes performances, videos, recordings and installations. Broadly speaking, his work explores the interconnected themes of energies and residues, often through reimagining our everyday encounters with mundane materials and technologies and the physical world, and also by considering how they relate to our experiences of energy generation, use and waste.