Radio Territories [book review]

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Published by Errant Bodies Press, Los Angeles/Copenhagen, 2007

A gathering of international interactive radio activists, Radio Territories was first a network of radiophonic events. The ensuing book – including some of the event’s protagonists, is a collection of essays dealing with contemporary ways to get out of the obsolete sender/receiver routine and how the listener is nowadays increasingly involved in what is being webcasted – the listener’s enpowerment taking place by the sheer power of interactivity. Editors EG Jensen and Brandon LaBelle champions independent producers in an ocean of state funded, corporate radio networks, assuming advanced technology provides producers/artists with independence. Hence articles on pirate radios, public FM performances (by the likes of neuroTransmitter, for instance), interactive online streaming, etc. The book gives radio art a fresh and lively account and makes you wanna point your antennas towards new emitters. What follows is merely a comment on the essays I enjoyed most.

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MB Rasmussen‘s essay is a political overview of Radio Alice, a marxist radio station in Italy. James Sey quotes Tesla, Orson Welles and Freud in the course of his essay on radio as part of a global wavelength. Steve Goodman‘s is a lively description of a London pirate radio and air piracy in the age of mp3. Sabine Breitsameter focuses on webcasting as opposed to broadcasting. In her overview of the Riga’s re-lab.net project, she quotes Max Neuhaus’ Public Supply actions (early 1970s) as precursor of network installations, as well as Hans Flesh’s ‘Zauberei auf dem Sender’ (in a Frankfurt 1924 radio hörspiel), featuring ‘…a mysterious sonic disturbance. Instead of the Blue Danube waltz that has been planned for the show, listeners were served a concoction of noises, music and human voices’ (p 60). Ellen Waterman evaluates the place of women in radio art in general and in Canada in particular, based on the contents of several key essays (including ‘Wireless Imagination’, 1992, ed by Douglas Kahn and Gregory Whitehead, or Douglas Kahn’s ‘Radio Rethink: Art, Sound and Transmission‘, 1994). Her article echoes a like minded text in Wireless Imagination. Sophie Gosselin, aka apo33, describes the experiments of their workshop in Nantes (France) connecting several remote buildings together via microphones and electronic processing, the local, ambient sound being aired throughout the city and played in another building. Bertold Brecht’s essay is quoted several times in the book, as in Erik Granly Jensen‘s essay. Brecht: ‘[Radio] must be transformed from a distribution apparatus to a communication apparatus’ (p158). Jensen also quotes Walter Benjamin’s play for children ‘The Railway Disaster of the Firth of Tay’ (1930s) to aknowledge Benjamin’s parallel between railway system and broadcasting system (p159). According to Benjamin, the advent of radio broadcast is due to state propaganda needs. Jensen analyses Brecht and Benjamin’s relation to radio and how it relates to contemporary radio experiments like LIGNA’s happening in a railway station. Douglas Kahn is no doubt a talented writer, his text ripe with beautiful imagery and poetic writing. ‘Radio of the spheres’ introduce a short history of electromagnetic sounds starting as early as ancient Greece. Kahn quotes from cosmology, philosophy or the ear’s physiology. I loved the presence of Erik Satie’s cephalophones (imaginary instruments) from Ornella Volta’s book A Mammal Notebook, UK, 1996. Other supernatural sounds in this review are the black holes’ sound waves or the ‘Sferics’, electromagnetic waves related to solar winds (p224-225).

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1 Response to “Radio Territories [book review]”


  1. 1 Ankh February 9, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Very interesting stuff. Thanks. Look what is going on here


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