COOL MEDIA HOT TALK SHOW
D.I.Y. talk show on art & media
TOPIC: Radio 2.0. The Art of Radio in the Age of the Internet
SPEAKERS: Adam Hyde and Arie Altena
QUESTIONS: Ask-It-Yourself NOW and during the show at
Wednesday May 2, 20.30 CET
video stream and interface for online participation:
location: De Balie, Amsterdam www.debalie.nl (bring your laptops and
ABOUT THE TOPIC:
Questioning the relevance of radio in the internet age
Internet radio or net.radio is now so much part of the daily practice
and experience of the internet that it has become alsmost
‘vernacular’, i.e it is almost impossible to perceive it for what it
is (audio on-line), and more importantly to see it as something that
could be imagined differently. The adoption of the metaphor in such
mainstream software packages as iTunes strengthens the adherence to
the old and accustomed model of ‘radio’ with a critical mass of
internet users. In a sense, most befitting to a show about media hot
and cool, it expresses beautifully the idea of McLuhan that “the
content of any new medium is an old medium” and that we are thus
“moving into the future looking backwards”…
We want to question what the relevance of radio is (as an artistic
form and as a medium) in the internet age. Why stick to the notion of
‘radio’ when the ways of handling and experiencing audio in an on-
line environment (on the internet) can be so much more versatile? Is
not a concept like net.radio, popular in internet-art circles such as
the xChange network, already a reactionary move towards the past?
If artists want to explore, continue or reinvigorate the legacy of
‘Radio Art’, why connect this with an internet related practice?
Looking back at the history of radio as a medium and the artists
involvement it is important to remember that already in the late
1920s Bertold Brecht famously explored the idea of radio as a
distributed interactive communication space consciously as an
artistic and a social / political tool. Technically also traditional
radio has the capacity of transforming every receiver into a
transmitter, thus enabling a communication structure pretty similar
to the internet. However, it was not technology but regulation and
legislation that killed this transformative potential of the radio
Looking at this today two ideas present themselves: First that we
need to be aware of this history in order not to make the same
mistakes vis-à-vis the internet (allowing it to be closed down by
regulation and legislation). Secondly, now that a mass of users has
become accustomed to the open media of the internet, would it not be
a more productive and interesting idea to take the internet to radio,
rather than the other way around? Why not try to open up the
traditional radio space in a way similar to the internet, taking the
internet-attitude of the youtube generation to radio?
This is also important locally in Amsterdam, where after all this
show is physically staged, which had a huge tradition in open media
and free radio, but where the radio space has recently been
forcefully closed down by new regulation, legislation ánd enforcement!
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:
Arie Altena (.nl), is a writer and theorist who lectures and writes
about new media, art, internet-culture, media-theory &c. for various
magazines and publications. Currently he also works as editor/
researcher for V2_ in Rotterdam. His weblog is at: http://ariealt.net/
Adam Hyde (.nz), is an artist, educator, tactical media practitioner,
streaming media consultant, and sometime curator. He is involved in
numerous projects that fuse (sound-) art, radio, and the internet,
a.o. r a d i o q u a l i a, Radio Astronomy, and Polar Radio. http://
STATEMENT OF ADAM HYDE:
Radio is not as it seems. It has never been live. It has always been
a rather fast method for delivering an archive. It is now time to
confront the great pretender and investigate the nuances of the
reigning principle of radio - delay.
Radio is the best archival media there is. Copy your digital files
into sound, broadcast them into space, - they will exist forever.
Retreiving them does require some work still as the speed of light
remains a barrier for indexing and retrieving radio waves, but given
time science cures even the most anxious archivists worries. Archive
now, let science take care of the rest later.
But is radio really an archival medium? Or is it live? Are radio
waves themselves a guarantee of liveness or do they simply deliver
archival material really quickly? What does 'live' actually mean and
does it even matter? Further, what role does the internet have in
this debate, is it possible to say that a downloaded mp3 file is live
Adam will talk about various projects he has worked on including r a
d i o q u a l i a s Radio Astronomy (http://www.radio-astronomy.net)
and Wifio ( by Simpel - http://www.simpel.cc). Radio Astronomy is a
live online radio station broadcasting sounds from space. Wifio is a
radio tuner that allows you to listen to the internet. It captures
data traffic on open wireless connections and translates emails,
webpages, voip and irc to speech. With wifio you too can listen to
the internet in your neighbourhood....
What is radio? Maybe the only way of explaining what radio nowadays
signifies, is by taking radio as a sort of mock-latin for "I am
beaming", or "I am sending". In the West we are getting quite far
removed from 'radio' as a specific way of transmitting signals
through the air, or a format where someone in a studio makes a
programme for us to listen to. The word radio is grifted upon many of
our media-uses. We can even conceptualize of every carrier of an iPod
or laptop with an open internet-connection and iTunes (or another
sound-programme running) as radio-stations, stations that others can
tune into. Radio then is - like the commercial channels - an
operation upon an archive (selected play lists from a huge database
of sound files), possibly remixed.
I like this re-use of the word radio - taking all those stations
streaming sound as radio. Most of that is utterly uninteresting to
most (even when I sit down in places like De Balie or V2_ and proceed
to check on the shared iTunes-'radio stations' in my immediate
environment, I hardly ever see anything I'd like to listen to, and I
imagine the same will be true of people checking on my archive.) If
we have something like radio, it is radically personalized (more
personalized than Last.fm).
This is the perspective of the listener who in some sense,
involuntary, becomes a radio station himself, by carrying around
networked equipment. It's a technology-effect, it has not much to do
with a (conscious) decision to start sending.
What then does the same technological change signify for someone who
takes the conscious decision to send? To become a disembodied voice?
To represent - what?
I am always a bit disappointed when alternative radio - say artists
taking up radio - uses the formats of classic, mainstream radio from
the twentieth century, from the high times of 'radio stations', with
talk shows, jingles, announcements, phone-ins, and a deejay who talks
in between records that he spins. Of course, that was a strong genre.
A note: all the radio programmes that I have fond memories of were
held together by a distinctive human voice (like that of Michiel de
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Tickets: 5 euro
Reservations by telephone: +31.20. 55 35 100 (during opening hours
of the ticket office)
Or via the Balie website: www.debalie.nl/agenda
De Balie - Centre for Culture and Politics,
Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 10