The date is February 9, 1972, and Chris Burden arrives at Channel 3 Cablevision’s studio in Irvine, California, for an interview with Phyllis Lutjeans. The TV station had approached Burden in January and asked him to do a piece for the channel, yet they censored several of his proposals, so he eventually agreed to an interview during which they would discuss the reasons for the station’s refusal of his ideas. Burden brings his own video crew so that he can have a copy of the interview. He requests that the interview be broadcast live, and during the course of the interview Lutjeans asks Burden to discuss a few pieces that he has thought of doing. The artist responds by demonstrating a TV hijack: he takes Lutjeans hostage, holding a knife to her throat and threatening her life if the station stops transmission, while verbally abusing her with threats. At the end of the recording, Burden destroys the station’s tape of the show by dousing it with acetone. He then offers an “irate” station manager his taped version of the show, which includes footage of the show and the destruction of the station’s tape, but the manager refuses. Burden explains in an interview, “T.V. Hijack was ultimately about who is in control over what's presented through the media.” This aggressive act against the restrictive and one-to-many structure of television is what curator Irene Hofmann cites as her original inspiration for the exhibition "Broadcast," now on view at Pratt Manhattan Gallery. The show presents a selection of works, dating from the 1960s to the present, that interrupt broadcasting systems in order to examine or challenge the structure, influence, and power of mainstream television and radio.
The AIRtime program provides artists (individuals and/or collectives) with valuable assistance with which to concentrate on new transmission works and conduct research about the genre using free103point9's resource library and equipment holdings. AIRtime Fellowships are awarded to approximately three artists each year. Fellows present their work in conjunction with WGXC, in Greene and Columbia Counties, and our city-based programs at the Ontological Theater at St. Mark's Church in Manhattan. Fellows receive an honorarium, and technical and administrative support from free103point9 staff. Participating artists are encouraged to archive recordings and other digital media with the free103point9 Transmission Art Archive project.
free103point9 defines “Transmission Arts” as a conceptual umbrella that unites a community of artists and audiences interested in transmission ideas and tools. This genre encompasses a diversity of practices and media working with the idea of transmission or the physical properties of the electromagnetic spectrum. Transmission art is generally a participatory live-art or time-based art, and often manifests as radio art, video art, light sculpture, installation, and performance.
See below for an instructional video from Berkeley's pirate radio station Free Radio Berkeley. The radio station is a major hub for information related to community-oriented micropower broadcasting, and they provide free workshops, legal information, and starter kits as part of their mission. In How To Make a Radio Station, FRB's founder Stephen Dunifer outlines how to build an FM transmitter.
How To Make a Radio Station from Free Radio on Vimeo.
Lots of radio-related activity this week. Art collective Finishing School will, um, finish their three-month residency at MOCA on Thursday with their project Finding Joy. The title "finding joy" is a military term for establishing radio contact in battle. In preparation for this one night event, Finishing School conducted and prerecorded a series of interviews in which interviewees discuss what brings them joy. Part workshop and part treasure hunt, participants will be asked to build small DIY radios in order to pick up transmissions of these interviews, which are dispersed throughout the museum. The public is also invited to call in and share their thoughts about joy, and Finishing School have set up a "Finding Joy Hotline" for this purpose.
New York-area freeform radio station WFMU is what brings me joy, and beginning this weekend WFMU will hold a benefit art sale at Printed Matter, accompanied by an online auction as well. This is their 50th year in operation, and as most listeners will agree, WFMU have a long standing commitment to supporting and covering the arts. Tauba Auerbach, Olaf Breuning, Mike Kelley, Christian Marclay, Richard Prince, Gelitin, Swoon are only a few of the artists auctioning work, which is "priced to sell."
Statement: Radio Astronomy is an art and science project which broadcasts sounds intercepted from space live on the internet and on the airwaves. Listeners will hear the acoustic output of radio telescopes live. The content of the live transmission will depend on the objects being observed by partner telescopes. On any given occasion listeners may hear the planet Jupiter and its interaction with its moons, radiation from the Sun, activity from far-off pulsars or other astronomical phenomena.
Montreal-based artist Matthew Biederman is daring to speak out about what he sees as military and government hijacking of what is "arguably one of Earth's most important, and only inexhaustible resources": air waves. Whereas radio was once intended as a many-to-many mode of communication, tight regulation of frequencies has led to a scenario in which the few (mostly corporate entities) are entitled to speak to the masses. His project, DAREDX, "seeks to re-establish the public's presence and right of occupation within the radio spectrum." In an effort to restore some of the utopian ideals initially associated with radio, the project will connect the public with the voices that float in the air around them and yet often go unheard: the voices of amateur broadcasters. Working almost like an astronomer, Biederman (under the call sign VA2XBX) will pluck transmissions out of the night sky, playing them back in Montreal's Cabot Square and logging and mapping them online. Drawing a connection between free public speech and the right of public assembly, DAREDX will amplify the voice of the people. Radioheads will be excited to know that non-vocal signals will also be charted, as the artist will "work with digital communications on HF, in order to send and receive SSTV (SlowScan Televsion), WEFAX (from NOAA Satellites), PSK31, Hellschrieber, and many more." In case you don't feel dialed-in enough to understand what that means, consider attending one of the talks, walks, or workshops associated with the project--including the one on how to build and take home your own FM transmitter! - Marisa Olson
You may have read about free103point9 here, before. At Rhizome, we maintain a high esteem for this pioneering organization serving the field of "transmission arts," and we've fortunately been able to collaborate with them on projects in the past. In many ways, our missions overlap, as our organizations grew out of a desire to support emergent and often immaterial practices. Free103point9's founders situate their vision of the field in an evolutionary framework, looking at how broadcasting and transmission grew out of shared trajectories with net art, video art, mail art, and other creative forms of distributed communication. The organization frequently teams up with other institutions to take this message on the road and increase exposure for the work of transmission artists. Their newest collaborative project is both a show and a recording, co-presented by the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, in their Radio Web program (RWM). This curatorial initiative "is a radio-phonic project from the MACBA's website that explores the possibilities of the internet and radio as spaces of synthesis and exhibition." This self-reflexive approach to presentation is also inherent in the free103point9 show, entitled "Radio Action III," which takes up "radio" as both its theme and its delivery vehicle. Fifteen artists collaborate to present five-minute tracks inspired by this important device, and a bit of surfing of the artists' profiles on free103point9 will assure you of their diversity, ranging from site-specific sound manipulation to interventionist broadcasts. The recordings are the newest CD to be released in free103point9's Dispatch series and the album will premiere at an event at the New Museum of Contemporary Art on August 7th. Meanwhile, it will be streaming online at RWM from June 18 - August 30. Be sure to tune-in. - Marisa Olson
Proof against the claim of declining handyman skills in younger generations of Americans, this weekend's Maker Faire will turn over the Bay Area's San Mateo Fairgrounds to the unusual inventions of the country's amateur artisans, do-it-yourself tinkerers and precocious tech-heads. Already in its third year (the first, held in San Mateo in 2006, drew 20,000 people, and the 2007 Austin edition 45,000), the fair has shown a continuing desire on the part of the populous to not only concoct innovative, low-fi alternatives to mass-produced commodities, but to also make the skills acquired through such production available to the broader community. To this end, MAKE and CRAFT magazines, published by the fair's organizers, offer in-depth instructions for building everything from the practical (an in-car camcorder mount) to the far-fetched (a PVC air cannon). The fair itself will follow suit, particularly in the realm of engineering. Highlights include an amateur radio demonstration, offering details on radios, antennas, local repeaters and FCC practicalities; the cerviScope, a portable colposcope, specifically designed for low-resource settings in the developing world, that detects HPV lesions on the cervix towards preventing cancer in women; CUBIT, created by Stefan Hechenberger and Addie Wagenknecht, which "depart[s] from the mouse pointer paradigm" by employing an open-source, multi-touch platform for computing; and Compubeaver, a taxidermy beaver retrofit as a cover for your desktop computer. - Tyler Coburn
Standing out at this year's Whitney Biennial are Neighborhood Public Radio (a.k.a. NPR). Founded in 2004, in Oakland, California by artists Jon Brumit, Lee Montgomery, and Michael Trigilio, the group share both an acronym and a logo with National Public Radio, but their focus is on local communities and DIY broadcasts. The group takes the act of transmission into their own hands, but are quick to point out that they are not "pirate radio," as they don't steal a spot on your dial, they simply hop onto an empty airwave. Their intentionally unlicensed practice is a touchstone for discussion of corporation-controlled spaces, like the air around us, and the programmed homogenization of the radio. What NPR delivers to listeners is a low-budget (but relatively high production value) snapshot of the neighborhoods in which they are stationed. The group has traveled the world, one neighborhood at a time, engaging in dialogue with local inhabitants about pressing local issues, in addition to presenting artist's recordings, audio experiments, and performances. At the Biennial they are broadcasting in the museum, and on the air, from their temporary headquarters in an empty shoe store, a few doors down from the museum. Along with co-hosts Linda Arnejo, Whiz Biddlecombe, and Katina Papson, the founders will welcome a number of visiting artists to the program and invite locals to come in and chat about issues of importance to them. They will also receive and re-transmit broadcasts from other neighborhoods, who are participating in the program from afar and offering a point of contrast with New York's Upper East Side. NPR is influenced by the history of community radio broadcasts, as well as collective action groups and situationist collaboratives, but their focus is squarely on the present and the opportunities afforded by ...
"As we walk the streets our bodies pierce magnetic fields." So begins artist Ricardo Miranda Zuniga's statement regarding his installation, "On Transmitting Ideology" at Philadelphia alternative art space, Vox Populi. This poetic preface underscores the ubiquity of radio waves, in our world, and the potential power of transmission. For while many of the powerful states and dictators Zuniga's work critiques use the airwaves as a means of broadcasting political dogma, the artist takes the space back in his own transmissions. For the show at Vox Populi, he will present an installation of wooden guns in which are embedded radios "broadcasting declarations on freedom and transformation in our society." The AK-47s and Uzis crafted by Zuniga take aim at the mass media and their role in disseminating ideology. This installation is accompanied by a screening of two new video works "that question the outcome of popular notions of freedom, liberty, and the power of capital." Both pieces touch on the political and personal struggles associated with immigration. Carreta Nagua, Siglo 21 (2007) is an animated narrative that also addresses aging and cultural and familial loss through the perspective of two aging TV superheroes, voiced by the artist's parents, and El Rito Apasionado (2007) "takes place in a hotel room where three Guevarrian Neo-Marxist Latino Terror Revolutionaries from Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico gather to prepare an act against the history of U.S. intervention." Together, these projects exemplify Zuniga's forte for not only performing powerful interventions, but also interrogating the rhetoric of interventionist art and actions. "On Transmitting Ideology" will be open March 7-30. - Marisa Olson