Grantee Spotlight: Wave Farm
The bucolic Upper Hudson Valley seems an unlikely place for a man-made, high-tech engine of artistic creation. But Wave Farm, which was founded as an artists’ collective in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 1997, channels the potential of nature interacting with technology into one of the state’s most innovative and multifaceted media arts organizations.
Wave Farm programs—Transmission Arts, WGXC-FM, and Media Arts Grants—provide access to transmission technologies and support artists and organizations that engage with media as an art form.
Wave Farm’s Transmission Arts programs support artists through an international residency program, site-specific installations, online radio streams, and an archive to preserve these works.
The residency program, which runs June through October on 29 acres in the Green County town of Acra, supports artists who work with all aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum. Resulting work encompasses participatory, live art or time-based art such as radio, video, light, installation, and performance, as well as a multiplicity of other practices and media, informed by an intentional use of space (often the airwaves). (Take a video tour of Wave Farm’s bucolic grounds HERE.) For example, in 2017 artist-in-residence Celia Hollander’s (Los Angeles, CA), project “Δ / l (Change In Light)” was a series of optical Theremins that render natural light into sine waves during sunrise and sunset. The sound evolves from a loud, high frequency chord when the sunlight hits the Theremins directly, to a quiet, sputtering low frequency chord as daylight diminishes. Hollander is developing this modular system, effectively a flexible electronic instrument, that can “play” natural, changing light.
Resident artists also bring their work at Wave Farm to the public through online streaming such as Zach Poff’s (Brooklyn, NY) “Pond Station,” an installation with an online stream accessible to listeners here and across the globe. “Pond Station” reveals activity within a spring-fed pond from dawn until sundown. Hidden sounds are transmitted to local listeners on Wave Farm Radio 1620-AM and Wave Farm’s WGXC 90.7-FM, and streamed to international audiences at wavefarm.org/listen.
Wave Farm’s Executive Director, Galen Joseph-Hunter, noted the use of the word “transmission” is quite intentional. “We resisted the term ‘radio,’ and decided to use ‘transmission’ instead because most people think exclusively of FM and AM when they hear the word radio and we were interested in the broadest definition of radio—the electromagnetic spectrum.”
Through our Electronic Media & Film Program, NYSCA provides Wave Farm with general operating support, as well as funding to develop and manage the Media Arts Assistance Fund (MAAF) since 2009. This NYSCA regrant program supports electronic media and film organizations, as well as individual artists, in all regions of New York State. The Fund provides unique and critical support with a focus on sustainability and public engagement.
Another NYSCA EMF / Wave Farm Partnership is the NY Media Arts Map. Designed for cultural organizations, artists, and the general public, the Map features organizations with a deep commitment to media art and to technology as an art form. The Map is a vital tool for identifying art and technology networks, services and opportunities throughout New York State, connecting us to each other and to essential information about Media Arts statewide.
Executive director Galen Joseph-Hunter estimates that 155 groups populate the map, which is designed to be as user-friendly for the general public as it is for or cultural organizations and artists. The majority of organizations located on the Map are NYSCA Electronic Media and Film grantees. The site had about 3,400 individual visitors over the past 12 months, and plans are commencing for a mobile responsive version of the Map.
Reflecting on Wave Farm’s 20th anniversary, Joseph-Hunter said, “NYSCA played a critical role for Wave Farm when it transitioned from a collective to organization in 2002. NYSCA’s enthusiasm and encouragement in those early formative years gave the organization’s principals the confidence to plow forward. NYSCA grant support has made an extremely meaningful impact on Wave Farm’s operations, art and technology initiatives, and facilities.”
Cover image: Susan Jennings of Black Lake performing at Wave Farm’s Audio Buffet (For Pauline Oliveros) July 22, 2017, Greene County, New York. A 32-channel mixing board donated by Oliveros and IONE serves as the fulcrum for this event where dozens of artists come together for a live collaborative and improvisational broadcast on Wave Farm's WGXC 90.7-FM. Photo by Thatcher Keats