I was really excited about the opportunity to produce a work in response to Shout Out!. I had worked previously on projects exploring the functions of radio and the community aspect of pirate radio was something I wanted to learn more about.
Reading about the show and looking at related archives online I began to think more about the role of the DJ, and in particular how this role manifests in online communities today. I’m really interested in how localised communities can develop and thrive, using the internet.
This is something I’ve explored previously; as part of a Vanilla Galleries project at Two Queens (2013) I co-built an expansive FPS version of Phoenix and the surrounding Cultural Quarter which users could come and play, within the space. ( https://vimeo.com/70937533)
Currently I am working on a series of films exploring migrant communities within Leicester. The history and technical properties of radio form a core part of the project. The city blocks as radio antennae, and radio waves as something distinct and free of the cables of the internet.
The outcome fell into three parts. The text was intended to be fragmented and something that regular visitors to the Café Bar might read in small parts over several visits. The text was written with the aim of picking up several lines of thought related to the exhibition. I’m always keen to try new ways of displaying text. In this instance the layout was similar to previous html texts I’ve made. Similar to the way you might expand and collapse digital texts, the reader will probably have to move closer to the text to read the whole piece. We pasted the text to the wall in reference to fly posters and guerrilla advertising tactics.
The audio piece is then related to the text and hopefully interacted with alongside. It was intended to assimilate that experience of tuning a radio. The sounds heard are mostly recorded from walks around the city as well as samples pulled from the pirate radio archives, including Leicester’s own Fresh FM. The audio sampling radio was mostly produced by Nathan Bissette. Nathan and I have been collaborating for a long time under the name Dead Hand. We produce music and sound through recordings emailed back and forth. Our collaboration has always been about the communication itself and the use of song within communities.
Initially the sound piece was designed to work through a series of crossfaders. My extremely limited knowledge of coding and programs that might have held the answer, and do provide great opportunity for sound e.g. Supercollider, left me looking for an alternative solution and also questioning further the nature of this piece. I was uneasy with the illusion of the piece, creating a trick. I think it is better when the user knows how it works and they are aware more simply of that physical action -tuning between the stations. I realised at some point that the way I had been describing the crossfader setup could be built in Unity. The use of Unity was a nice solution that gave an unexpected dynamic to the piece. It works like a small game in which player is located within a corridor. The ‘tuning wheel’ allows the player to move left and right. Along the length of the corridor are a series of spheres that play each of the tracks or stations. These are only audible with a certain range. This virtual 3d space creates the effect of tuning between different stations.
The third part of the response was important as a demonstration of one answer to the inquiry of the text. It is the installation of a wifi router, within the café space that provides access to a disconnected part of the internet. I had read about the OccupyHere project around the time of it’s release and always hoped to explore its functionality. I think it’s really important to play with these different ways of interacting with the internet. Use of the network has been minimal so far, but that is interesting too. The whole response is about trying to trace the outline of a space where the DJ presence could be.
Mateus Domingos is an artist and writer based in Leicester http://mateusdomingos.com/
Shout Out! UK Pirate Radio in the 1980s forms part of the ICA Reading Room Touring Programme.