Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Piotr Tolmachov – Collapsing Radioforce Mantras

Jul 24, 2015 - Aleksei Kazantsev

href="">Die Maschinenanbeter COLLAPSING RADIOFORCE MANTRAS is a sound, video, live performance from my good friend, Piotr Tolmachov. Piotr has particular interest in restoration and modification of old soviet analogue synthesizers. He uses them to create moving, kinetic sound surfaces full of electricity. COLLAPSING RADIOFORCE MANTRAS is a project based on unique tape recordings of voice communications between flight operation officers and pilots of US & EU strategic reconnaissance aircrafts. The tapes were made by USSR Air Defence Forces in 1980s. [vimeo video_id="134133150" width="1000" height="563“] Here is what Piotr says about the project: "I use different layers that represent different realms: Voice> It is really difficult to categorise the way these people communicate: it is not a regular talk, it is not singing, it is not poetry reading, nor it is rapping. They belonged to “voice subculture” that was never exposed to the public, hence abandoned, forgotten, unknown. They repeat their call signs, encoded coordinates, messages over and over again on a daily basis through years which become so polished so fluid so musical so rhythmically accentuated and so hypnotic that you can call it their daily mantras. I selected 11 fragments from the tape (with the duration up to 10 seconds) that were used as mantras (consequently repeated fragment of voice communication with a slight decrease of duration with every next loop until it finally ceases in time). Each point of mantra’s collapse is ended by the same mantra with the original duration. All mantras are divided by continuous interlude radio speeches. Sound> Besides voice communications, this tape contains all kind of sound traces left from radio frequencies, distortions, additional subharmonics caused by transmitting, receiving and recording equipment. Unfortunately, weak tape machines and worn tape couldn’t reproduce all nuances of that powerful sound. To reconstruct this layer of raw sound electricity, I decided to use sound of soviet-era analogue synthesizers, organs and drum modules produced in 1980s. It is well known that major part of soviet synthesizers were designed and produced at military plants and were made from the same electrical circuits, used the same ideas as their older brothers (all kinds of radio transmitters, receivers etc.). Therefore they share the same sound signatures. Video> The whole visual sequence is a history of Soviet era cosmic and sci-fi movies from 20s to 80s of XXth century compressed into 30 minutes." Piotr's website: