WHO: Ed Bear [b. 1983] is an American performing artist and engineer. His work with robotics, sound, video, transmission and collective improvisation investigates the questionable calibration of perception. As an educator and designer committed to an open source world, he researches and practices material reuse and as a civil responsibility.
He has toured extensively in North America and Europe as a performer and teacher, working with organizations such as The Mattress Factory, The Montreal Pop Festival, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute. In 2009 and 2010 he received NSF and other funds to study e-waste streams as educational resources, software defined radio and novel energy harvesting using ionic polymer metal composites. He is a 2012 LMCC SwingSpace artist-in-residence, 2010 free103point9 AIRtime fellow and received the 2008 Roulette Emerging Composer Commission. His music is available on Peira, Azul Discographica, Roar Tapes, and several other record labels. Since receiving his B.S. In Electrical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of NYU, Ed Bear has provided freelance design, manufacturing and engineering services to start-ups, acclaimed artists and musicians, film and theater productions, and leading education institutions. As a research specialist at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he investigated technology-neutral, commercially viable solutions to dimming and control of emerging solid state lighting systems for multiple markets with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Alliance for Solid-State Illumination Systems and Technologies industry partners. He is currently working with littleBits, Inc. to revolutionize modular electronics.
PROJECT: For his residency, Ed Bear will install a new iteration of the radioOrgan, a hand-crafted modular FM transmission system built from obsolete electronics, in E.S.P. TV's Unit 11 mobile studio. Marginally legal as a “part 15” test device, the radioOrgan is 8 individual low power radio stations which can work in tandem to desperately fight for the attention of single radio receivers, completely occupy radio bands [e.g. 88 – 108 Mhz], and create non-compliant transmissions unavailable using commercial hardware covering a 15 – 100 meter radius. A prototype will be used to present a temporary installation inside Unit 11 on May 1st teasing historic durational works (e.g. Musique D'ameublement, Organ2/ASLAP, Longplayer, Cross and Tudor's Reunion) with the almost transhuman material half-life of disposable electronics and a few nice, old boomboxes. In the following month, a new, sturdier, and easier-to-use radioOrgan will be fabricated and installed, and compositions and recordings which integrate Unit 11's existing AV gear will develop.
This work is part of a larger program to leverage a small technical accident to distribute thousands of low-cost FM transmitters, explicitly damned by a Bernaysian unnatural philosophy, to artists, teachers, activists, and students. Continued development of the radioOrgan feature set enhances an existing base of workshops which will continue to enact the aforementioned while increasing general technical literacy and civic awareness of the multitude of unique socio-ecological challenges and opportunities posed by everyday electronics.
Technical: The current prototype has 8 FM transmitters, 8 discrete analog inputs and 16 oscillator voices. Control is via a USB-MIDI master, physical buttons, and internal programming by a technician (i.e. it can play back composed sequences without external input). Each transmitter can transmit between 70 and 120 MHz, covering every commercial radio band internationally and several VHF analog television channels. As each individual transmitter can change it's transmitting station on the order of 1000 times per second, the radioOrgan can effectively, completely saturate any commercial radio bandwidth with signal. Work on the installation in Unit 11 [sic] will add 8-16 LFO outputs, CV control for all 8 transmitting stations, preprogrammed sequences, and tones, and a patch bay break out for all input and output signals. Four radio receivers and a small BW CRT will be mounted and accessible via the patch bay.