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November 21, 2006

Live Transmissions


Implications of Paranoia in Sound Art

These days, a radio is a common transmitter of music and information. Historically, radios have had notorious alternative functions as instruments of surveillance. In this article, Anastasiya Osipova discusses how recent sound artists have incorporated the psychology of paranoia into their work, fitting for an environment where surveillance is constant and technology is fervently deployed to detect that which is hidden.

"Newly recruited member of the Resistance walks down the street. Anxiety circulates under his skin. Several uniformed men block his way. “What is inside your suitcase, sir?” “Radio.” They let him pass. He walks into what appears to be a shop, hands the radio transmitter to a portly woman who is standing firm on her high heels, cigarette held to her mouth. At that moment he feels that she, who he is seeing for the first time in life, is closer to him than any family member could possibly be.

Military and entertainment industries share equipment: magnetophones, vocoders, synthesizers, and other tools routinely used by musicians each originally had military functions, to say nothing of the radio, a notorious spy fetish. Leon Theremin, famous inventor of the electronic instrument bearing his name was, tellingly, also a secret agent. Together with technology, radio and sound-related arts have inherited a drive for detection often bordering on paranoia. The suspicion of invisible channels of information into which one is somehow implicated against one’s will—or of networks of communication from which one is excluded—is amplified. Recognizing the psychological power their medium can wield, radio artists are employing its technology in a manner analogous to how the armed forces would: to disclose the invisible and, when appropriate, to mobilize resistance against it." Continue reading Live Transmissions by Anastasiya Osipova, NYFA Current.

Posted by jo at November 21, 2006 04:52 PM