Sending and Receiving
by Dieter Daniels, translated by Henning Grentz
"The uniformity of all products for all people caused by industrialization - as is expressed by the lexical term 'ready made' - is only a preliminary stage towards a globally synchronized perception of a 'radio-made' experience world . . . Indeed, radio - and therefore the beginning of all electronic mass media - is invented by receivers, not by broadcasters. One might modify Duchamp's famous quote that the onlookers make the pictures: 'Ce sont les rÃ©cepteurs, qui font les mÃ©dias.'
How could the power of the receivers be great enough to turn the entire media machine upside down and change it from a strategic into a distributive system? What fascination initiated all that constitutes our present-day electronicized worldview? For one thing, there is the 'bricolage' or fiddling with ominous elements such as wire, lacquer, magnets, crystals and so on. Under one's own hands an apparatus comes into being that brings forth strange signals from the nothingness of the air. The enigma lies in how something develops out of nothing and how this something is interconnected with the rest of the world. For there are signals telling of news from far away, of temperatures, stock market rates, other radio amateurs and sometimes even of sensations like the SOS signal of a distressed ship. The power of the receivers lies in the invention of listening - first there were the listeners, next broadcasting stations emerged addressing this unknown and scattered community, then a radio boom arose, which was very much comparable to today's internet boom. During the first years of radio, listeners would experience and describe receiving as global raptures of listening to boundless spaces.
'...to feel at home in the surge, in the motion, in the fleeting and infinite. Not to be at home and yet to feel at home anywhere; to see the world, to be in its center and to be concealed from it.' These words may serve to describe the listening experience that would fascinate so many from the time of the amateurs to the beginning of radio. Yet they come from Charles Baudelaire and relate a flaneur's experience in the anonymous mass of a modern metropolis, 'from this universal communion he gains a unique sort of inebriation'..."