Absolute Value of Noise || Magnetic South

Magnetic South (2013) is a sound piece by Canadian artist Peter Courtemanche.

Living in Canada, the word “South” is often synonymous with the Sun. South is the place where light and warmth come from.


“I set up my ELF (low frequency magnetic wave) receiver, pointed it at the sun at different times of the day, and made a series of short recordings of the resulting radiation patterns. The sounds are a blend of local and distant magnetic mutterings that resemble a science-fiction movie soundtrack from the 60s or 70s.
I imagine this piece to be the soundtrack for a cinematic rendition of Valeri Briusov’s The Republic of the Southern Cross (written in 1907) – a story about a fictitious and doomed social democracy located at the South Pole.

This sound piece was orchestrated by software – a generative “radio mixer” that creates a new version of the work every time it is played. I use this software in much of my radio work, and also to mix a four-hour late night weekly radio show (the absolute value of insomnia) on CITR FM in Vancouver.”

Peter Courtemanche is a contemporary sound and installation artist from Vancouver. He creates radio, installations, network projects, performances, curatorial projects, and handmade CD editions. His art works often have a literary basis – inspired by narrative texts and the history of specific installation sites. He uses a variety of gadgets – custom turntables, lamp filaments, wire coils, high voltage ionizers, ELF/VLF receivers, motors, magnets, and solar-power. His work has shown across Canada and in Europe.