Transmission Arts: Artists & Airwaves

2011
Edited by Galen Joseph-Hunter with Penny Duff and Maria Papadomanolaki

In this ground-breaking look at a new art genre, Transmission Arts: Artists & Airwaves brings together a genealogy of 150 artists and artworks—and more than 250 images—from 1921 to the present that encompasses performance, video, radio theatre, sound art, media installation, networked art, and acoustic ecology. Here is a fascinating account of the ingenuity and creativity of artists who have made new discoveries in broadcast, public works, performance composition, sound, and text, stretching the boundaries of both transmitter and receiver. At a time when public access struggles with corporate control of the airwaves, artists have combined activism and communications technologies to represent alternative worlds on the electromagnetic spectrum.

From the Introduction:

“Grounded in an art-historical context that celebrates the avant-garde, a genealogy of contemporary transmission-based projects includes Futurism, Hörspiel and radio theatre, post-war electronic music and composition, Fluxus and Happenings, early video collective projects, and telecommunications art. The works cited in this volume are both historical projects conceived within this lineage, as well as contemporary works informed by these important movements in art history… Communications technology and activism working together to ensure public and artistic access to the transmission spectrum provide the foundation from which the transmission art genre emerges.”

Galen Joseph-Hunter has served as executive director of free103point9 since 2002. Over the past thirteen years she has organized numerous exhibitions and events internationally. Joseph-Hunter has worked at the video art organization Electronic Arts Intermix since 1996.

Penny Duff is a frequent contributor to publications and festivals. She studies arts administration and policy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Maria Papadomanolaki is a Greek artist working primarily with sound in the context of phonography, audience-centered performance pieces, and radio art.

Cover image: Matthew Burtner, Studies for Radio Transceiver 1.0 (feedback), 2000.
Photo: David La Spina.