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Voices of America

  • Deadline:
    Nov. 4, 2008, midnight
  • Location:

"Voices of America" is looking for new sound work employing samples of coverage of the US election as reported on Voice of America (VOA) Radio, the US government broadcasting service intended for an international audience. Here's how it works:

RECORD audio of election coverage on a Voice of America (http://www.voanews.com) station
UPLOAD your recordings to http://thevoa.net and tag them according to language and content
DOWNLOAD from the searchable pool of available recordings
REMIX the broadcasts and UPLOAD them back to the website

A curated playlist of compositions and remixes will be broadcast from The Sea and Space Gallery in Los Angeles in a special event on November 4 - US election day - as part of the Audacity of Desperation (http://desperationexhibition.blogspot.com) exhibition. Upload from August 25-November 4 to be included in the live event!

The Voice of America radio service was initiated in World War Two and dramatically expanded during the Cold War to win “hearts and minds” for the new American Empire. All major Cold War players operated such “information services,” which were collectively called “The Voices” in some targeted countries. Recognizing that the broadcasting service was largely a tool of cultural and foreign policy propaganda, Congress forbade the Voice of America from broadcasting directly to American citizens in 1948. Though slightly retooled, VOA persists today: the attacks of September 11, 2001, for example, invigorated Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu broadcasting. Currently, the Voice of America radio and television networks produce more than 1,000 hours of original programming per week in 45 languages, much of it covering American politics and regional foreign policy between blocks of popular music.

The 2008 election is widely viewed as a potential turning point in US foreign policy that has become ever more militaristic and interventionist in the last decade, and the prospect of the first African American president has galvanized the hopes of people around the world. Yet those who are most affected by American military and corporate action are excluded from American electoral politics. They are, quite literally, voiceless.

"Voices of America" offers an international audience an opportunity both to monitor the United States’ self-presentation abroad by recording VOA programming and speak back to it by remixing those broadcasts. The project obliquely points out the injustice that participation in US politics is so tightly restricted and questions, in a non-polemical fashion, how much change is possible given the persistence of Cold War, now War on Terror, infrastructure. In the arena of cultural politics, the project suggests a network of global citizens offering revised image of America’s carefully-constructed image back to itself.

"Voices of America" is a collaboration between Lee Azzarello and Sarah Kanouse and is sponsored by free103point9 (http://free103point9.org). The project is part of The UnConvention (http://theunconvention.com), a non-partisan, Minneapolis-based collective acting as a counterpoint to the highly scripted and predetermined nature of the contemporary presidential nomination process and convention.