Work Excerpts Online

Jacki Apple: One Word At A Time (1994)

(p) 1994 Jacki Apple. All rights reserved.

This solo piece evolved from a narrative work, Going Between, by Helen Thorington, which became Going Between\One Word At A Time\Docs**, a collaborative performance duet with Helen Thorington at the On The Air Festival, Transit Art/ORF, Austria, 1993.

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Other Radio Works and Recordings


Jacki Apple (Los Angeles, CA) is a visual, performance, and media artist, writer, audio composer, and producer whose internationally broadcast radio/audio works of orchestrated texts and cinematic images, are set in a multi-dimensional sonic landscape. In 1995 she released two CDs Thank You For Flying American/stories & songs 1980-91, and ghost.dances \ on the event horizon. The former producer/host of "Soundings", KPFK, L.A., she is currently co-writing Breaking the Broadcast Barrier, a book on American radio art since 1980 with Helen Thorington. She is on the faculty of Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA.


Other Radio Works and Recordings

Redefining Democracy in America (1991-92)

A six-part series confronting the deep schisms and contradictions in an America in crisis.
  • Parts 1, 2, & 3: Episodes in Black and White (1991)

    With collaborating writer/performers Linda Albertano, Keith Antar Mason, and Akilah Nayo Oliver. Raises questions about who speaks, who is listened to, who is heard, who is silenced, and how that has shaped our present social reality. In various poetic and narrative forms underscored by sound and music, the two black and two white Los Angeles artists explore issues of race, sex, money, power, drugs, family, children, violence, language and censorship. Interior voices of hope, rage, despair, tenderness, indignation, pain, pride, fear, desire, angels, and madmen are juxtaposed against the exterior voices of "the witness", "the reporter," and "the judge." The social and creative process of making art together played an important part in the development of this powerful and uncompromisingly honest multicultural piece and the dialog within it.
  • Parts 4 & 5: The Voices of America 1992 (1992)

    With KPFK-FM, Los Angeles. Posed the questions "What would you say to your fellow citizens if you were running for President? What should we aspire to and how should we get there?" In the fourth and fifth parts of this series, Americans across the political and cultural spectrum speak out on education, the environment, racism, greed, government, the power elite, spiritual values, and more, as they struggle to articulate a vision for our future. Their voices, compiled from two months of on-air listener call-ins at KPFK (before and after the L.A. "uprisings") with additional contributions from KPFT, Houston, orchestrated into a multilayered montage of hopes, dreams,frustrations, angers, and fears, spanning the distance from utopian ideals to cynical pessimism.
  • Part 6: A Leap of Faith (1992)

    With Keith Antar Mason. A (white) Euro-American woman and a (black) African-American man born in America in the middle of the twentieth century on opposite sides of the dividing line, take us on an imaginary journey through time as they wait for the ghost train in the place where our dreams are born and die. They traverse a landscape that reveals the schisms between official history, memory, and experience, as we eavesdrop on their private conversations in post-rebellion Los Angeles. . . . This piece is, in part, a personal response to the conditions, events, and rhetoric surrounding the L.A. "uprisings" of 1992, and an attempt to place such events in both a broader historical and intimate personal context.

    Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Garden Planet Revisited (1982/1992)

Past and present history resonate through ruins of the future as American astronaut Captain Charlie, a paragon of late twentieth century technological man, hurtles through time and space. Stranded on a station, abandoned and alone, he is on a mission without end. Simultaneously, the Inhabitants of an unnamed place search amongst the architectural remains, gather stories, rumors, myths from Messengers and Witnesses, as they try to reconstruct what happened in the time before "the cities shifted and the Earth turned." Is it a memory, a dream, a hallucination, a prophecy? Originally presented as a thirteen scene, hour-long multimedia performance written by Apple with music by trombonist Bruce Fowler. The audio was edited and remastered by Apple as a twenty-eight minute work for radio in 1992.

The Culture of Disappearance (1991)

A radio "opera" about extinction, and the conditions of loss and denial endemic to industrial and post-industrial society. It is a dirge for the exterminated species of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a grieving. It raises questions about the terms of human survival in a social order that defines us as "separate", and reveals how those values are manifested in our socio-economic and political relations -- i.e., conquest vs. cohabitation, consumption without regeneration. We eradicate cultural memory just as we eliminate species. The sung "mass" of names of the dead from insects to languages is sometimes obliterated by the relentless pounding of machinery. Embedded in the litany are anecdotes of annihilation.

Voices in the Dark (1991)

A radio work for outer and inner space, in four sections. The cosmos is an audio archive of information broadcast to the stars, a repository of human (and perhaps other) histories in which time melts and language dissolves into signals. All those "voices" traversing the universe looking for a pick-up! Imagine gridlock in the big data bank in outer space. Voices in The Dark is about interstellar conversations, radio waves, and sonic archaeology. Is there anyone listening and how do they interpret what they hear? How do we/they distinguish between real events and people and media generated fictions? Are we the "they"? We say we want to make contact with the Other, when in fact what we search for is a mirror of ourselves. This composition combines a narrative text with various musical, vocal, and sound components snatched from the airwaves, overdubbed, sampled, remixed, and electronically orchestrated.

Frenzy in the Night (1990)

is about growing up black and male in America, finding your own voice and becoming an artist, the pain of racism, and the dream of freedom. It is a spiritual quest for cultural and personal affirmation. A poetic suite in three parts, it traverses the American landscape from the "banks of the muddy Mississippi" of Mason's St. Louis boyhood, through a mythical "free state of Illinois," to his artistic coming of age in the "boom box of L.A." Mason's provocative, emotionally charged text is set in Apple's lush cinematic sonic landscape of West African tribal drums and wailing jazz saxophones, riverboats, police sirens, street rappers, birds, all caught in the ebb and flow of the river that is replaced by the freeway, as it travels from a bittersweet blues in the night to an urban frenzy. A collaborative work written and performed by Keith Antar Mason, sound designed and produced by Jacki Apple.

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.

Swan Lake (1989)

A satiric, ironic film noir "ballet" for radio, the original Swan Lake narrative is recast and resituated amidst the glittering surfaces and dark underside of late eighties Los Angeles where dreams are manufactured in medialand, art and entertainment tongue kiss, the third world coexists in a parallel realm, and the weather is unnatural. Using radio as a cinematic medium, Apple's remake employs various pop genres including Raymond Chandler's detective novels, TV fashion commercials, and a sensational murder trial. This filmic version is about seduction, voyeurism, and the consumption of images, with the Swan playing the part of Art. The lush romanticism of Tchaikovsky's original ballet music is juxtaposed against a percussive, techno-eclectic, edgy film score by L.A. composers Joseph Berardi and Kira Vollman.

Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.

Fluctuations of the Field (1989) (10:20)

Drawing upon texts by leading theoretical physicists, this piece is a hypnotic incantation that transforms scientific theory into a poetic cosmic narrative, a fluctuating field of sonic waves and textual particles in which form and content, matter and mind are interchangeable. With music by Ruben Garcia, and Harold Lott's Spirits of the Drum.

The site specific performance work commissioned by the Santa Monica Arts Commission.

Palisade: A Cliffhanger in Five Acts (1987)

Set in the precarious emotional terrain between the thought (the disembodied voice) and the act (the vocal body), a fractured "narrative" traverses male-female relationships on the edge of a cliff. Accounts assemble and reassemble as remembered, as imagined, as desired, as perceived, as experienced. In riveting vocal and musical performances Jacki Apple, Jeff McMahon, and David Moss create a quick cutting montage of cinematic images counterpointing evocative interior texts set in a dissonant soundscape.

Produced and directed by Jacki Apple as a site-specific performance spectacle commissioned by the 1987 Santa Monica Arts Commission for the SMARTS Performance Festival, Santa Monica, California.

The Amazon (1985) (13:08)

from The Amazon, The Mekong, The Missouri and The Nile, a four-part work exploring language and colonization. This collaboration between audio/performance artist Jacki Apple and composer Bruce Fowler is rich mix of "animal" vocalizations, human incantations, Brazilian instrumentation, and Fowler's haunting trombone. A powerful evocation of the destruction of nature and culture.