Viking Bar as Catalyst and Cultural Institution
My research is concerned with the reanimation or symbolic revivification of the Viking Bar, a bluesy dive bar that closed in 2006. This is a long-term project that will manifest as several on-site actions, a poster campaign, a website with a streaming radio station and a musical performance involving musicians that formally performed inside the bar. These activities will take place over the course of the summer and fall of 2011 while conducting in depth research. Topics of research will include personal history of owners, the development of the site and construction, and the cultural history of the neighborhood, particularly it's history during transition from occupation by working class immigrants to immigrant refugees. The form I am focusing on completing at the moment is to create Viking Radio.
I am in contact with several persons that have personal experience from visiting the bar as well as those who have a vested interest in the history of the neighborhood and its current manifestation. I am arranging to record interviews with these folks to gather content for a series of audio works that will be accessible through the online streaming radio station, Viking Radio. These will also be included in an archive that I will create but also open up to allow others familiar with the project to contribute to, a kind of People's Archive.
Viking Radio is the creation of a concept radio station that uses the performances and recordings from those musicians that used to perform there to populate several iterations. Many of these performances can be gleaned from YouTube videos taken prior to the time the bar closed it's doors. These iterations will be broadcasts that proceed from intimate to very public. Iteration one is to create a playlist of songs that can be downloaded by anyone to a mobile digital music player that will be listened to on headphones while standing just outside the door and imagining the time when the music blared into the street from those same doors. This is intended as an intimate reimagining and re-experiencing of a past moment in time.
The second iteration, already realized, is a shop dolly mounted with stereo equipment that broadcasts from outside the doors of the Viking to everyone within earshot of the sound, blasting from the powered speakers. This is a lo-fi, hyper-local radio of sorts. The third iteration will be to mount this same equipment onto a tricycle in order broadcast this same collection of music while biking in ever increasing concentric circles around the streets adjacent to the bar.
The final iteration will consist of a low-power radio transmitter that hijacks a popular local FM band and broadcasts the music into the passing cars in the intersection in front of the Viking. This transgressive action forces the accidental listeners into an active role, changing them from passive onlookers of the degrading façade of the bar and transporting them back in time and into the role of a mobile audience.
Viking Radio will be accompanied by a poster campaign that co-opts the logotype of the Viking Bar signage to be turned into posters that announce the presence of Viking Radio. I will also create posters that mimic the standard music show announcement posters but are entirely blank, save for the Viking Bar sign logo as the header. These posters will be posted in conspicuous locations in the surrounding neighborhood. This is a material way to engage the neighborhood public's memories of, or recognition of, the Viking Bar's history or present as a vacant sign of potential.
LINKS TO AUDIO/VIDEO
Willie Murphy tracks
08 Nappy Head Blues.mp3
11 People Get Ready.mp3