Zahra Jewanjee and Simon Coates are both artists who live and work in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Coates is originally from the UK while Zahra is from Pakistan. Microdot – Radio Al Barsha Version is the result of a long-distance collaboration with UK band The Untied Knot. Having set ourselves a brief of creating an original piece of sound art using sound files sent over distance, we received MP3s of an Untied Knot track entitled Microdot. Taking its name from the Al Barsha area of Dubai where we have a studio, and using the track as the foundation for the piece, we decided to construct a fictional local radio broadcast made up of field sounds recorded by us in Dubai.
So, alongside digitally-treated individual tracks from Microdot (guitars, tablas, glockenspiel etc.) , we added – amongst others – the noise from the diesel engine of an abra (abras are the water taxis that cross Dubai creek), interior sounds from a Jainist restaurant in Satwa, Lebanese music coming from a building site transistor radio, a conversation recorded outside the Sikh temple in Bur Dubai and the music that introduced the news in the 1980s on PTV (the national Pakistan television station).
The piece also features loops made from a live performance of Microdot performed by The Untied Knot at the St Hilda’s Church, London in June 2012.