The Orpheus Institute invited us to be part of their Sound Arguments laboratory-atelier series in Belgium this month. We enjoyed spending two days with this group or artists, musicians and researchers, doing some shortwave practice together in Ghent.
We began with a radio building session, where all 25 attendees built their own Open Wave-Receiver radios (OWR) and followed this with listening and discussion sessions.
In the listening session every radio was first tested, before groups went out into the city to explore the urban landscape and the listening possibilities there. Listening experiments included using the river as a ground, a stick and a hair band as an antenna stretching device, connecting with fences and lampposts, and throwing the antenna high into the air. Many things were heard including talk radio, music, mains electricity, data packets, and the fuzzes and buzzes of electromagnetic radio waves.
Regrouping at the Orpheus institute, each group discussed their listening explorations and the urban conditions that they encountered. As a group we then listened to a short excerpt of an OWR recording taken by the collective at 'grey line' on the summer solstice in Scotland, the recording includes sferics and the gentle appearance of radio stations that seemingly float in on the waves of an electromagnetic tide.
Our final time together was spent discussing the idea of hearing our connection to our environments, just as we do with our OWR's and the 'constellations of listening' that inform their use. We asked the groups to discuss how, in their own artistic practices, they can also hear their connection to their surroundings?
Images © Tessa De Moor - Orpheus Instituut
Sound Arguments is an innovative laboratory-atelier for creative artists and researchers dealing with sound. Presented by the Orpheus Institute, Ghent (BE), and the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, University of Leiden (NL), Sound Arguments transcends the boundaries of art school or conservatory, art space or university to propose a new kind of creating-researching-learning community. It reaches into the broad and complex space of current art-sound practices. At Sound Arguments, participants will share, invent, learn and discuss.