Einmal Rückkopplung und retour (Audio)

Feb 21, 2023
Created by Dieter Kovačič (2005). Introduced by Tyler Maxin.

Einmal Rückkopplung und retour, or “Once feedback and back,” is a reflexive radio piece originally broadcast on ORF in 2005, composed of a series of feedback-related compositions by Dieter Kovačič. Interspersed with German-language question-and-answer segments between the artist and a distorted, computer-generated voice, Kovačič considers the topic of “feedback” in broad strokes, from the invention of regenerative circuits in 1913—an important milestone in the development of radio—to feedback’s use as a design principle by musicians like Jimi Hendrix.

Particularly, Kovačič muses on the history of positive feedback, a phenomenon that seven different inventors in the United States and Europe claimed to have discovered independently, resulting in a patent battle. The topic is close to the artist’s heart: Kovačič’s grandfather had worked as an assistant for Alexander Meissner, an Austrian engineer who had observed the principle separate from its official originator Edwin Armstrong. Additionally, Kovačič considers himself a “conscientious copyright-objector,” both appropriating copyrighted material in his music and encouraging his work to be shared freely, making his focus on the historical episode particularly rich.

Between the dialogic interludes, the sonic matter of the piece is often harsh and repetitive, composed with a system utilizing a shortwave radio, an Internet streaming server, and patches on the visual programming language Max/MSP. The result manipulates appropriated collaged sound and digital feedback, at times resembling 1990s computer speaker interference or a poorly-grounded amplifier. - Introduced by Wave Farm Radio Art Fellow 2022-2023, Tyler Maxin