8 episodes

From a Native Police uniform badge to a shard of space junk and a mysterious tin shed dedicated to electrical healing, Oscillations takes artists and listeners deep into the Powerhouse's collection of half a million objects to unearth stories about the vibrations, fluctuations, and movements woven through our world – and beyond it.

Presented by Jon Tjhia and theme by Erin Hyde (Sig Nu Gris).



Image Zan Wimberley, still from the beginning, the middle, the end, 2021, video, single channel, 15 mins and 1 second.

OSCILLATIONS Powerhouse

    • Arts

From a Native Police uniform badge to a shard of space junk and a mysterious tin shed dedicated to electrical healing, Oscillations takes artists and listeners deep into the Powerhouse's collection of half a million objects to unearth stories about the vibrations, fluctuations, and movements woven through our world – and beyond it.

Presented by Jon Tjhia and theme by Erin Hyde (Sig Nu Gris).



Image Zan Wimberley, still from the beginning, the middle, the end, 2021, video, single channel, 15 mins and 1 second.

    JINGHUA QIAN – HARD READ

    JINGHUA QIAN – HARD READ

    Object number: 97/92/14-5 

    What does it cost to be visible? Chinese and trans people shift in and out of focus in Australia’s historical records – appearing and disappearing, code-switching, oscillating. Through the lens of turn-of-the-century portrait photography, Jinghua Qian looks at the privilege and burden of representation and the luminous power of inscrutability. 

    The piece was recorded and produced in Melbourne on the land of the Wurundjeri and Bunurong People of the Kulin Nations, with additional recordings from Gadigal land, Lenape homelands (New York City) and Tio'tia:ke (Montreal).  Jinghua Qian is a writer interested in race, resistance, art, desire, queerness and the Chinese diaspora. Eir work has appeared in Overland, Peril, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper and on television in ABC’s China Tonight. Ey lives in Melbourne’s west on the land of the Kulin Nations.  Thanks to Jon Tjhia, Atong Atem, Oliver Reeson, Kate Bagnall, Tim Sherratt, the Powerhouse team, and my perilous, unparalleled chorus: Alice Tang, Eric Jiang, Jackie Tang, Jessica Jiamei Levine, Jon Tjhia, Joyce Cheng, Lee Lai, Lian Low, Lilian Shen, Margaret Mayhew, Raina Peterson and Vicky Yuan. 

    Oscillations is presented by Jon Tjhia and sound design is by Erin Hyde (Sig Nu Gris). 

    Interested in learning more? Check out the Oscillations collection set. 

    • 23 min
    SALLY OLDS – MUTUAL OBLIGATION

    SALLY OLDS – MUTUAL OBLIGATION

    Object number: 2007/56/104 

    In Mutual Obligation Sally Olds looks into unemployment activism in 1970s Australia, when Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister and Milton Friedman toured the continent. The piece tracks the links between unemployed worker unions, the origin of the ‘dole bludger’, and the rise of the unemployment policies we live under and struggle against today. 

    Sally Olds is a writer whose work has been published by Sydney Review of Books, un Magazine, the Institute of Modern Art, and AQNB, among other publications. In September 2022 she released her first book, People who Lunch: Essays on Work, Leisure, and Loose Living (Upswell). Keep up with Sally via her website, Twitter and Instagram. 

    This work was made on the unceded land of the Wurundjeri and Bunurong Peoples of the Kulin Nation. Sally pays her respects to their Elders past and present. 

    With thanks to Jon Tjhia for his support with editing, recording, and producing this work, Ayeesha Ash and Cara Stewart for their curatorial support, Alex Griffin for information about Australia’s economic history, and Owen Bennett for his interview. Thank you to all who shared stories about their experiences of Centrelink. 

    Oscillations is presented by Jon Tjhia and sound design is by Erin Hyde (Sig Nu Gris).  

    Interested in learning more? Check out the Oscillations collection set. 

    • 19 min
    OMAR MUSA – RADIESTHESIA

    OMAR MUSA – RADIESTHESIA

    Object number: 87/1192 

    Omar Musa responds to the Radiesthesia pendulum in a piece about divination and love. ‘I was drawn to this object because it seemed evocative of the type of spirit that poets (and yearning lovers) often invoke, a summoning or divination process, where the lines between art and pseudoscience blur.’ 

    Omar Musa is a Bornean-Australian author, visual artist and poet from Queanbeyan, Australia. He has released four poetry books (including Killernova) and four hip-hop records. His one-man play, Since Ali Died, won Best Cabaret Show at the Sydney Theatre Awards in 2018. His debut novel, Here Come the Dogs, was long listed for the Miles Franklin Award and he was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year in 2015. You can learn more about Omar and his work by heading to his Instagram @omarbinmusa or his website. 

    Omar would like to thank Cara Stewart and Jon Tjhia for the attentive feedback and care. 

    Oscillations is presented by Jon Tjhia and sound design is by Erin Hyde (Sig Nu Gris). 

    Interested in learning more? Check out the Oscillations collection set.

    • 11 min
    MIYUKI JOKIRANTA – A RADIATING BODY

    MIYUKI JOKIRANTA – A RADIATING BODY

    Object number: 2004/42-1 

    A Radiating Body turns to the not-so-distant past, when the body still held mystery and medicine still had a touch of magic about it. This replica of a multi-wave oscillator machine, built by Angas Vivian Jones in 1970s Sydney, is at once a homemade therapeutic device, and a container for desire, faith and an irrepressible spirit of invention. 

    Miyuki Jokiranta presents and produces ABC Radio National’s documentary program, Earshot. Her work has aired on the BBC, NPR and the European Broadcasting Union. Miyuki fell in love with radio arts while curating Soundproof and has created expanded documentaries for MONA FOMA, Radio Revolten and BLEED festivals.  

    With thanks to Neil Wilson, laboratory manager at St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne and amateur radio enthusiast, Eloise Oxer, Bruno Sacco and Tony Kerselaers at Multi Wave Research for the use of their recordings.  Interested in learning more about the multi wave oscillator? Check out Multi Wave Research, Melbourne Electronics and Radio Club and the Oscillations collection set.

    Oscillations is presented by Jon Tjhia and sound design is by Erin Hyde (Sig Nu Gris). 

    • 13 min
    JOHN JACOBS AND JANE CURTIS – PUSH TO WALK: A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE PEDESTRIAN BUTTON

    JOHN JACOBS AND JANE CURTIS – PUSH TO WALK: A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE PEDESTRIAN BUTTON

    Object number: 87/234-1 

    The PB/5 pedestrian crossing button is a celebrated icon of Australian design. Its renowned sound became part of an independent movement for social change, and the audio tactile pedestrian button became an irreplaceable feature in our neighbourhoods. In Push to Walk: A People’s History of the Pedestrian Button find out how the PB/5 pedestrian button came to be a fixture on Australian streets from the people who helped make it happen: engineers, Vision Australia advocates and the blind and vision impaired communities.  

    Producer Jane Curtis is an award-winning producer of podcasts and radio documentaries. Her podcast Inner West Icons is a sound-rich, playful tour of Sydney’s inner west. 

    Sound engineer John Jacobs is an international award-winning ABC sound engineer. He brings sounds and voices together to tell engaging stories with warmth, humour and surprise. 

    Narration by Bernie Hobbs. With thanks to advocates: Bill Jolley, Deputy Chair of Vision Australia; Susan Thompson, Advocacy Advisor with Vision Australia; Graham Innes, lawyer and former Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner. With thanks to engineers: Frank Hulscher, traffic engineer at the NSW Road Transport Authority; Graeme Patterson, traffic engineer at the NSW Road Transport Authority; Louis Challis AM, acoustical engineer at Nielsen Design.  

    Oscillations is presented by Jon Tjhia and sound design is by Erin Hyde (Sig Nu Gris).

    Interested in learning more? Check out the Oscillations collection set.  

    • 18 min
    ALEXANDRA SPENCE – STELLAR NULLIUS

    ALEXANDRA SPENCE – STELLAR NULLIUS

    Object number: 97/254/1 

    Alexandra Spence’s work explores earth’s material relationship with space via satellite disposal and debris, and the uncanny historic connections between electronic music and space exploration. Travelling through orbits, life cycles and transmissions, Stellar Nullius reconsiders the earth’s atmosphere, not as a liminal zone, but as a provisioning body whose wellbeing is deeply intertwined with our own. 

    Alexandra Spence is a sound artist/musician based in Eora (Sydney). Through her practice Alexandra reimagines the intricate relationships between the listener, the object, and the surrounding environment as a kind of communion or conversation. She has presented her work worldwide and released music with Room40, Longform Editions, MoreMars (with MP Hopkins), Canti Magnetici, and Mappa. Find Alexandra on Instagram and follow her work on Linktr.ee.  

    With thanks to the interview subjects: Dr Annie Handmer, Professor Iver Cairns, Alan F Jones, Dr Sarah Reeves, Martin Gotfrit. Work title borrowed from Elizabeth Povinelli. 

    Oscillations is presented by Jon Tjhia and sound design is by Erin Hyde (Sig Nu Gris). 

    Interested in learning more? Check out the Oscillations collection set. 

    • 15 min

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