Subject to Greater Uncertainties


This episode is part of the Radius Range: Local, Distant, Fringe series of radio transmissions that explores the phenomenon of signal strength.

The Range series is accompanied by a beautiful booklet available for purchase at the mighty Half Letter Press.

Subject to Greater Uncertainties weaves together Rob Ray’s interests in military operations, the desert, and natural resource extraction operations as expressions of human comprehension at the fringes of the complex system we call “the world.” Rob Ray asks: How do we act upon knowledge of which we are aware is only a tiny slice of something much larger and complicated? What are the intended and unintended outcomes of those actions?

Subject to Greater Uncertainties is composed of four discrete sections: X:1 and X:2; Furnace and Swarm:

X:1 and X:2 were created in the Mojave Desert region of Southern California at the Center for Land Use Interpretation’s Desert Research Station. Rob Ray used a 5-watt solar panel to voltage starve a BoardWeevil and record sonic booms emanating from the nearby the R-2508 Special Use Airspace Complex. Rob Ray thinks of this setup as a sort of “sound maquette” to investigate his interest in X-class solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections ability to destabilize global radio and low-orbit satellite electronics systems.

Furnace and Swarm were created in the abandoned Wildrose beehive charcoal kilns of Death Valley. The Wildrose beehives were constructed by the Madock Consolidated Mining Company in the 1870’s to convert wood into charcoal for the smelting of silver-lead ore extracted from their mines in the Argus Range. This operation proved fiscally unsustainable and the beehives were decommissioned only a few years after they were constructed. The beehives now serve as excellent reverb chambers and hiker desiccation prevention huts.

These Death Valley cacti inspired the sounds.
Death Valley smelting kilns used as reverb chambers