Ars Electronica 2004
Festival-Website 2004
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Re-Inventing Radio

'Heidi Grundmann Heidi Grundmann

Long Night of Radio Art
Live on air—on line—on site
Since the first live “Radio Art Night” was staged at the 1989 Ars Electronica Festival, the medium of radio and its technologies and thus radio art as well—have undergone especially rapid change. In the 1990s, radio moved into the Internet and streaming technologies began their triumphal progress. Today, data transmission by means of radio technologies constitutes the basis of communication among both human beings (via cellphone) and machines (via WLANs, GPS, etc.). Artists also link up these new technologies—often in connection with older and old-fashioned technologies—to the traditional broadcast medium of radio in all its forms and on all of its channels. They not only disseminate their sounds and images in temporary networks, they are also tele-present via data-streams at any number of other nodes in such networks. They listen in on nature and cityscapes just as they tune in to the media landscape and the wavelengths of outer space, whereby some of the methods they use to do so resemble those of surveillance professionals.

A few of those approaches that have infiltrated and spun off from concepts of the traditional Ars Acustica aired by public broadcasting stations over the last 15 years, can be seen in retrospect to have already been present in 1989 at the very first “Radio Art Night,” which itself, in turn, constituted an important element of a series of events with a thematic focus on radio art and curated by Ö1 Kunstradio at the Ars Electronica Festival entitled “In the Network of Systems.” The “Radio Art Night” lasted four hours—an extraordinarily long time slot in those days—and was broadcast not only nationwide on Österreich 1, the ORF Austrian Broadcasting Company’s cultural channel, but also on Radio Oberösterreich, the regional station in Upper Austria. “Radio Art Night” was produced in several of the ORF studios in Linz as well as live from the Main Hall of the Brucknerhaus. In one of the studios, Bill Fontana reconstructed his very first radio art project (Music from Ordinary Objects, 1977), which, even 12 years later, would not have come off without the live call-ins from listeners. Wolfgang Temmel hooked up telephone connections to crisis areas around the globe in order to let his heart beat in concert with the pulses of artists on-site at these precarious places in a live radio memorial aired as an urgent admonishment to listeners worldwide. Over at the Brucknerhaus, a live audience was experiencing Jim Denley in a simulplay via satellite with Ross Bolleter in Perth, Australia. Other participants in the Long Night were mobile Radio Subcom and Radio Stadtwerkstatt, a Linz radio project that was pretty advanced as well as subversive considering conditions then prevailing in the Austrian media landscape.

In the meantime, there have been several Long Nights of Radio Art—including repeated ventures out into uncharted territory. And although some of them really did last an entire night, this radio broadcast on ORF was increasingly reduced over time from the mainstream medium to the function of a linear, transient window opening up a view of more complex, often globally networked, temporary happenings. In them, performances increasingly receded into the background and ceded center stage to what were potentially (online, at least) infinite, constantly changing flows of network-linked (frequently generative or at least automated) installations (see, for example, Sound Drifting,1999). Today, streaming technologies are part of young people’s everyday life and increasingly define the decentralized, network-linked modes of production of the independent global radio and webradio scene. Thus, it is symptomatic that in 2004 there are more Long Night remote locations than there ever were on local and/or online art and culture radio.

In Linz and Vienna the Long Night 2004 will be endowed with numerous performative elements, which will occasionally morph into new forms of soundscapes, a genre that goes back to the 70s and, always closely aligned with radio, assumed increasing importance over the years in connection with sound archeology and ecology. Moreover, it will be imparted additional thrust with respect to innovation and reception when—in the near future, and, on channel Ö1, perhaps even in time for the Long Night 2004—the new 5.1 format enhances the stereo format.

On the air (and online), the Long Night 2004 will also showcase examples of “expanded radio art.” Some of these works employ new radio technologies such as those used in mobile projects and installations on-site in Linz at the Ars Electronica Festival or in the Radiokulturhaus in Vienna. What artists from Europe and far-away places overseas will be feeding into the network of the “Re-Inventing Radio” night will, as always, be a surprise. After all, the Long Nights of Radio Art and similar projects are always non-curated, open systems in which something is amplified and takes shape in a collaborative, decentralized production that is, first of all, far more than the sum of individual works of radio art in order to then, in the online documentation, additionally be considered a snapshot recording the current state of radio art.

Translated from the German by Mel Greenwald

In Cooperation with Istituto Cervantes

The Contribution of Aleksandar Vasiljevic has been made possible thanks to a residency grant of KulturKontakt Austria.

Live Streams from Vienna and Linz as well as from Baltimore, Berlin, Hamburg, London, Mexico City, Montreal, New York City, Tokyo, Vancouver, Weimar etc. at
In Linz: Seppo Gründler, Felix Kubin, Elisabeth Schimana, radioqualia, FirstFlooRadio, ArtistRunLimousine/Audiomobil, Aleksandar Vasiljevic, pandorabox.org, Peter Mears, et al.

In Vienna: Robert Adrian / Norbert Math, Roberto Paci Dalò, Arnold Haberl aka noid, Steve Heimbecker, Rupert Huber, Concha Jerez / José Iges/Pedro Lopez, Tetsuo Kogawa, Gordan Paunovic, Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner / Edith Garcia, Wolfgang Temmel, Mia Zabelka / Electric Indigo / Dorit Chrysle, et al.
In Vancouver: Western Front, Peter Courtemanche, DB Boyko,et al.
In Baltimore: art@radio (Steve Bradley et al.)
In Berlin: reboot.fm
In London: resonance.fm—Knut Aufermann, Sarah Washington, Jim Whelton et al.
In Mexico City: Radio Educacion
In Montreal: Studio XXX, Anna Friz et al.
In New York City: Neurotransmitter
In Santa Barbara: aug.ment.org (August Black)
In Tokyo: Radio Kinesonus
In Weimar: ping.fm