Mobile Radio

2005
Sarah Washington

Washington writes:"Mobile Radio was conceived by Sarah Washington and Knut Aufermann in 2005 as an indefinite transmission portal - enabling broadcasting to happen outside of the typical environment of a radio studio. Our key principles are ease of access and spontaneity. For us, spontaneity is key to unleashing the transient magic of an FM signal. Mobile Radio is an ongoing project taking various forms, however three predominant ways of working have emerged.

Firstly a traditional model of broadcasting, yet employed in unlikely settings. A minimal set-up is required - mixing desk and various playback devices, plus laptop and stable internet connection to stream audio to radio stations for FM broadcast. We cast off many of the shackles of standard broadcasting: ditching the attachment to a fixed studio to purge the baggage that inhabits the artificial environment. Broadcasting can be done from any location with a stable internet connection. On 'Clingradio Zürich' for Radio LoRa's Electromagnetic Summer in July 2007 we worked alongside Marold Langer Philippsen. The result was a two-week live outdoor radio event formed from improvised soundscapes, free-form interviews, storytelling, performances and an evolving feedback sound installation. Under our protective covers of tin roof and tent we expressed summer heatwave and thunderstorms, becoming a temporary vital element in the fabric of the city.

Secondly, by employing low-powered portable transmitters we use narrowcasting as a performance tool. In September 2006 we formed the Dutch Art Institute Radio Orchestra for KlangLangWelle - an evening of sound designed for the Gasometer Oberhausen. At 117 meters high and 68 in diameter with its eight-fold echo and twenty second reverb this is one of the most extreme acoustic environments we could ever hope to tackle. In prior workshops and rehearsals we worked with postgraduate students on performance techniques and asked them to create audio for the instruments - twenty-two large radios, to which we broadcast their sounds.

Lastly, we look to radio technology as inspiration for our musical instrumentation. We use tiny transmitters as feedback and interference devices, which complement our other feedback and circuit-bent electronics. We use these either in concerts or to create the bedrock of radio transmissions - such as a recent work MORSONATA performed at the Full of Noises Festival in Barrow-in-Furness in October 2009 and broadcast live on London's Resonance104.4FM. As part of a residency to produce this work we teamed up with local Morse operators who coded Kurt Schwitters' Ursonate for us, and festival artists Susan Matthews and Haco. "