20100610

Static

I'm 150 years late to this party, but let me say "AM radio is awesome," (and I mean that in the fullest sense of the word). Tonight I tuned in to the AM band, and found a continuous swath of conservative talk radio shows. You can scan between them and not lose any information: the content is homogenous and redundant. I'm sitting in a room of televisions, monitoring every political opponent, and they are all saying the exact same thing, it's a chorus.


I found a strange band that was playing a choral requiem, far away and distorted, mixed with ionospheric static, overlaid with a station in French, and a bit more conservative talk radio. Chanting-foreign-language-political-nonsense. It was an auditory Koyaanisqatsi. I can not find this place again.

Later, there was a distant station relaying a Catholic church service. It was so far away that the voices, already emotionless and robotic in their incantations, had been stripped of their human quality, souls trapped in the electromagnetic spectrum ?

And then, what I think somewhere in the world must sound like a string quartet, but here in Pittsburgh sounds like a creepy and distorted soundtrack from A Clockwork Orange.

This, my friends, is what we have been broadcasting into space, and so, I propose an art exhibit, quite simple to implement :

Fill a space with radios, tuned to AM stations far away, arranged to create surreal juxtapositions of live content streaming through us all the time, all but forgotten in the Internet generations. This polyphony of stations further mix in the gallery space, making each point a unique linear combination of a live streaming and echoing information overload of our radio transmissions.

If you want to get fancy, make the radios resemble a disassembled and decaying jumble of last-century's technology, fading out. And maybe, if they have time, someone should build a steam-punk radio, with a giant, automated, slowly turning gear that sweeps back and forth across the AM bands, to sit solitary in an empty room, listening.

The information age analogue is easy to imagine, its a gallery packed with computer monitors, live streaming in text and static filtered and re-aggregated twitter feeds, weather forecasts, political movements, cultural innovations, and real-time modification to local, state, federal, and international laws. Keegan, I want your wiki update streaming code.


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