As mentioned here from time to time, I represent one third of the experimental collective DEMILIT. We are a group taking walks, recording sounds, and making connections between militarized spaces and the everyday landscape. Last year we were commissioned by Deutchlandradio Kultur to produce a radio piece on their "Newcomer Werkstatt" program, which aired in Berlin at midnight, June 24, 2011.
As DEMILIT likes to do when presented with an opportunity, we take a walk. With a plethora of former military landscapes to explore here in the Bay Area, we set our sights on Angel Island. The island has a long history as a militarized island, beginning as an Army Post in the Civil War and culminating as a strategic link in a necklace of missile defense silos around the Bay Area in the 1960s. Angel is also notoriously known as an immigrant detention and quarantine island. [More history] What DEMILIT sought to accomplish on our walk, and in the ensuing soundscape presented below, was a means of measuring the spaces embedded in the island, the spaces which cannot be seen but which can be heard.
SF-91L is the name of the abandoned Nike Missile station on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay where we recorded the sounds for this piece. Gravelator refers to the simultaneous process of building up and eroding away the island. We displaced the island's own material to construct a second island, an imaginary island, which is encapsulated in the sound.
In a related fashion, the military severed the island’s crown in order to install the radar system for the missiles. The missiles were made obsolete not long after it was finished and was decommissioned. Decades later, the Gravelator is a means of awakening the sequestered spaces of the silo. Listen:
I call it a "chronoscape" -- between landscape and soundscape, a work of sound both on the geographic scale and on the time scale. Though the piece has a finite boundary in time, it is intended as an aural window onto an oceanic sonic process. In a similar fashion the work appears to have a finite geographic boundary; however, an island is not a separate piece of land but a promontory of land which happens to rise above the water level. There is a continuity in both time and geography which reflects the underlying and pervasive process of militarization which DEMILIT seeks to expose in our work.
More from DEMILIT's tumblr feed: http://demilit.tumblr.com/SFG