Artwork of the Week – Janek Schaefer

National Portrait c. Janek Schaefer


Liverpool artwork of the week 2009-49. ‘National Portrait’ by Janek Schaefer in ‘Sound Art’ at the Bluecoat 5 December 2009 to 17 January 2010

At midnight on December 1 2009 the Winter Hill transmitter, located near Bolton, was turned off and the analogue terrestrial television signal to Merseyside disappeared forever. For National Portrait, the sound artist Janek Schaefer addresses what he describes as “the death of analogue television” in the UK.

Schaefer made audio and video recordings of the last 24 hour transmission of each of the five analogue television channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Five) with the dying television waves forming the structure of the work’s soundtrack.

The vibrant walls of the gallery reference a television test card. There are 5 TV sets each displaying a ghostly, blank white flickering screen. Each of the 5 recordings is cut up into random length strips that are played back randomly. These sound bites create continuously new sonic relationships, a cascade of sound sentences.

In addition to this newly commissioned work, Schaefer is presenting a six room retrospective which spans his 20 year career. This includes his widely revered Recorded Delivery piece which music and production pioneer Brian Eno said: “….remains one of the wittiest and most interesting in the field of Sound-Art. It is elegant, economical and clever, and makes me wish I’d thought of it first.”


Created in 1995, Recorded Delivery is a sound activated tape recording of a parcel travelling from Exhibition Rd post office, to an installation room in the Acorn Self Storage centre, Wembley, London. Visitors will hear the mysterious world of scanning, stamping, lifts, vans, radios, singing and final delivery unfold, with a surprise highlight as we eavesdrop among hot blooded postmen early in the morning.