Free Radio Linux

2002, 14,253:25:48
r a d i o q u a l i a (radioqualia)

Commissioned by the Walker Art Center in 2002, r a d i o q u a l i a's "Free Radio Linux" entailed a text-to-speech program reading the entirety of the central code base for Linux, the popular open source operation system. The computer voice was aired over FM radio and through streaming audio online, with participating FM, AM, and shortwave stations relaying parts of the broadcast in other parts of the world. Calling the work an "audio distribution of the Linux Kernel," r a d i o q u a l i a implied that a receiver could copy down the spoken source code and thus obtain the software. While implausible across the 593.89 days that it took for the program to read through all 4,141,432 lines of source code, this idea signaled the group's simultaneous investments in broadcasting and in free and hackable software – specifically that software might become available through transmission in order to facilitate further artistic transmission. As an experiment in treating code as broadcast content, "Free Radio Linux" served up surprising moments when the long, breathless strings of computer-interpretable characters would give way to full English sentences: annotations that the Linux developers had left to explain their work. (Reference: - Described by Wave Farm Radio Artist Fellow 2021/2022, Andy Stuhl.