Mobile Radio

art project by Sarah Washington & Knut Aufermann

BARROW October 2010

October 27, 2010 by Mobile Radio

Radio workshop for Octopus
We were invited back to Barrow to give an overview of working with radio for the sound art collective Octopus in their house in Barrow Park. The Octopus Collective run the wonderful festival Full of Noises










Our stay was kindly hosted by Lanternhouse in Ulverston, a town distinctive for its unique inland lighthouse – shown here with its outstanding views of Morecambe Bay and the lakeland fells


















Luckily, there was plenty of time to check out what members of Octopus get up to in Piel View House. Here is John Hall in his vinyl experimentation room, with adapted turntables and glue records which play backwards from the inside outwards, watched over by Kurt Schwitters. Andrew Deakin can be seen recording tiny snippets of sound for the Radia show: In an Octopus’s Den. Outside the park provides distracting simple pleasures












Now for some work

















Off to the bandstand and back

CONISTON October 2010

October 26, 2010 by Mobile Radio

Wine tasting for Grizedale Arts, Octopus and Coniston residents
We paid another visit to Adam Sutherland at Lawson Park to arrange the last details of a wine tasting that Grizdale Arts hosted for us at the John Ruskin Institute, otherwise known as Coniston Library







We wanted to see if we could impart more than one flavour of the Mosel valley to the people of the Lakes. We showed pictures and told stories from our wine village Ürzig whilst introducing a sample range of the complex Riesling grape, transporting a little of the atmosphere of the wine mountains and river to the fells and lakes. We also introduced the audience to the concept of combining abstract music and wine by showing an excerpt of our Vinosonic concert at the Mosel. The Grizedale team provided excellent stew and dumplings which were the perfect damp autumn accompaniment. Comparing the two contrasting locations of rural German wine country and the Lake District we unearthed parallels that bond the regions, such as the slate rock which heavily influences both architecture and agriculture. The force of water in varying manifestations has an inordinate effect on both communities, but when it is transmuted into fine wine for us to share we all have a great time!

ÜRZIG/LEIPZIG August 2010

August 29, 2010 by Mobile Radio

Radio Party with Tetsuo Kogawa for the festival Funk Now hosted by Radio Blau
Tetsuo has been hosting radio parties for a number of years. His use of ever-changing media technologies enable him to connect with collaborators around the globe. We contribute from our base in Ürzig via Skype


Naturally we baked something for the party, this time a blueberry cornbread. We always seem to want to eat or drink something for Tetsuo when we have our online gatherings, trying to shoehorn a sensual experience into the virtual world


We chat to Tetsuo and his Radio Blau hosts about goodness knows what

OBERHAUSEN July 2010

July 13, 2010 by Mobile Radio


Radia Art Camp
Knut was asked by Kunstradio in Austria to co-ordinate the production of a series of radio works on behalf of the radio art network Radia. He wanted to work collectively with a group of artists, and Sarah came up with the idea to set up a radio camp at one of our favourite places, the Gasometer in Oberhausen. The idea was to spend a few days there while the exhibition space is closed to the public, to make recordings and try out ideas in the amazing acoustic of a giant gas tower. We could not anticipate quite what an adventure this visit would turn out be…









First the setting. Regular readers will have seen this before, but you can never get enough of the Gasometer Oberhausen. Inside you see some of our clan – Felix Kubin recording, and Dinah Bird with Knut preparing to record a performance for Sarah’s piece 100 Words per Metre. Dinah was securely kitted out as she had to dangle a microphone some 90m above us while so that two voices could shout at one another across the vast darkness. We also had a mic recording half way up the building, to capture the effect of our words mingling in the gloom. Notice the amount of stairs on the outside of the building? For Barbara Kaiser’s work und ein und aus some of us volunteered to walk the whole way up wrapped in a mask with attached mic to record the increasing rate of our breathing. Surprisingly, it only took about 10 minutes to scale the 117 metre structure











Here are the happy campers at work and play. Verena Kuni who provided voice for Knut, Elisabeth Zimmermann, Barbara Kaiser (thanks to them for supplying some of the photos here), Felix Kubin, Sarah cavorting on the Gasometer roof, Jean-Philippe Renoult setting up for his piece Out of Breath and Knut preparing for Radio art is what I think it is (the performance of which inspired and amazed everyone as he made the gasometer sing with serene feedback), Paulo Raposo acclimatising for an exploration of Gasosonics for his work Don’t measure me, Dinah Bird catching the elevated breeze







And here is our camp, until a tornado blew it away… Yes, a tornado. We received a warning that extreme weather was on the way, but before we could finish up our picnic breakfast the force suddenly hit us. Two tents were uprooted and were caught and dragged inside the Gasometer, a risky operation as it took 3 people to hold the door open. There was no time to go back for valuable items in the other tents. The rain poured down the inside wall of the building, although we were safe and dry in the giant steel drum. What concerned us most as we were fleeing were the screams of teenagers in peril on the aerial assault course in the trees beside our campsite. We didn’t hear of any casualties afterwards, which was a relief as it had been far too dangerous for us to go and help. We spent the second night inside the Gasometer, wondering if we were the only ones ever to have slept a whole night in the building. It is a fairly hostile environment for sleep, but we will be eternally grateful for its solid protection that night











Here’s an overview of the Gasometer’s surreal setting in the heart of the post-industrial Ruhrgebiet. An inspiring place to work and visit. We came away with plenty of material from which 5 of us made works based on our collaborations and experiments for Kunstradio. Our adventures were in part sponsored by WDR3 in Germany, who aired Sarah’s piece and commissioned a collage of all the works which was crafted for them by Knut







And here’s the spectacular inside which at that time had a huge inflatable moon as the main exhibit. In the first photo you are looking down upon it. The Gasometer is situated next to CentrO, Europe’s largest shopping complex which attracts more than 20 million visitors a year… What interested us most was the Sealife Centre, then home to the since sadly deceased Paul the Octopus, who was at the height of his fame and having to endure us and thousands of children pressed up against the glass. Poor thing! Luckily for him we were all evacuated due to a fire scare… perhaps he pressed the panic button

ÜRZIG/LISBON July 2010

July 2, 2010 by Mobile Radio

RadiaLx: Pancake Live Transmission
Every two years Rádio Zero in Lisbon hold the radio art festival RadiaLx. Knut loves to make pancakes, so along with Ricardo Reis we decided to cook them simultaneously in Lisbon and Ürzig for a live festival ‘duocast’. For this stereo broadcast, one location could be heard on the left channel and the other on the right






Pancake Live Transmission set-up in Ürzig









Pancake Live Transmission set-up in Lisbon, using binaural headphone microphones








Pancake chat with our guest in Ürzig, Susanne Schug. In both locations we were blessed with an array of home-made preserves

ROTTERDAM June 2010

June 8, 2010 by Mobile Radio

We were invited to the electronic music studio at WORM to prepare material for a radio play to be broadcast on the Dutch national radio channel VPRO








The magnificent ARP





Our piece entitled ‘duration unknown’ was made for the show Cafe Sonore. The finished work involves direct intervention from the radio broadcaster who is required to announce during playback that due to time pressure they must skip through a long ‘boring’ section in the middle. The presenter must then hit the fast forward button on the CD player, until they reach the correct amount of time remaining for their radio show







All the electronics were recorded on the array of analogue synths at WORM, interconnected to some of our instruments and radio or open mic feedback set-ups. We recorded the voiceover in Ürzig. The piece, concerning the uncertainties of modern day car use, unfolds rather more as an unfinished philosophical journey than a physical one. It was conceived as a response to the Kraftwerk song ‘Autobahn’ in relationship to the building of an out-of-time and -place motorway bridge over the Mosel valley near Ürzig in Germany

COLOGNE May 2010

May 29, 2010 by Mobile Radio

Vinosonic 2
The Academy of Media Arts and Academy of Music festival Ohrenschmaus was hosted in some unusual venues. We offered to perform a Vinosonic event with biodynamic vintner Rudolf Trossen for the students, to run alongside their  explorations of sound and nature in a wild garden in Cologne. Shelter was provided for concerts under the barn roof


Preparing to play alongside the vegetable plot. The atmosphere was informal and conducive to sonic experimentation


Tonic Train set-up in the barn


Rudolf Trossen seducing the students with his magical tales of wine and mythology. In contrast to our last Vinosonic event where we introduced wine lovers to experimental music, here we introduced exquisite wine to sonic explorers. They were bowled over, and many took wine home for their parents and friends to try

LIESER May 2010

May 23, 2010 by Mobile Radio

Vinosonic
Seeing as we live in the outstanding Riesling-producing region of the world we thought it was about time to create a live event combining wine and abstract music. We invited our regular collaborator Gunter Pretzel from the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra to join us for a wine tasting in which we played a short piece for each of the selected first-class wines. The extraordinary surroundings were provided by the painter and glass artist Mana Binz. The event was part of the Mosel WeinKulturZeit festival







The music… a trio without a name. ‘Goldwingert’ was suggested by the audience (the name of a 0.3 hectare top quality vineyard in our home village of Ürzig). Before each short improvisation, we sampled a wine. At the risk of the music becoming kitsch we did not try to translate the wines into sound, but simply to offer our impressions of them






The wine… helped along by the sparkling expressions of Rudolf Trossen, who told a story about each wine after the audience had savoured it during the music. The listeners were extremely knowledgeable, (as you would imagine for a crowd made up partly of vintners), and one person could not only name each vineyard and vintage tasted, but each individual wine estate. Impressive

COLOGNE April 2010

April 25, 2010 by Mobile Radio

Art Special: Klingelpütz Parkuhr
Based in and around the Hansa Gymnasium, Art Special is an event held every few years in cooperation with Art Cologne. In 2010 the project was designed to establish new connections between the schools and colleges surrounding the small urban Klingelpütz park near the centre of Cologne. A group of 20 artists were commissioned by directors Uta M. Reindl and Georg Dietzler to work on individual projects within one of the schools. We choose to work with a group of 14 to 16 year old pupils at the Gymnasium on a radio installation for Klingelpütz park which we called Klingelpütz Parkuhr








We were assigned the student mentors Marieke Schneider, Samira Schäfer and Hannah Stelberg at the UNESCO-supported Hansa Gymnasium. Their job was to help us realise the project by managing our student group and offering technical assistance. Spanning several sessions we worked over a few months with the group to produce tiny soundscapes to play as a 72 hour sound installation in Klingelpütz park. The idea was that every hour on the hour the Klingelpütz park clock would strike all over the park – from multiple sound sources hidden in trees and bushes. Each and every hour would offer a new audio surprise to whoever or whatever happened to be passing








We wanted shower radios to diffuse the installation and ensure it remained weatherproof, so along with the students we selected some nice frogs for the job. Once we had tested the transmission set-up, we set off to the park to find suitable locations and test out some camouflage. It was noticeable to us how far removed today’s teenagers already are from the concept and awareness of radio. Yes, if you send a signal, any radio can pick it up!






The installation required a transmission site to host our radio transmitter and antenna. The perfect spot was a medieval tower, part of the former city wall. Now housing a youth club, it was possible to have easy access to the building. Unfortunately the pigeons had not all moved out of the roof space. [Photo of our equipment set-up by Alexander Basile]








We found some more willing volunteers who helped fix some radios in out-of-reach places. Others were simply well concealed by foliage, which, despite having drawn up a decent plan, made it somewhat tricky to perform ongoing daily checks to ensure that all were still broadcasting true to frequency and had not wandered off to a nearby station. The installation was designed to be perfectly quiet in between the short hourly soundscapes, therefore it required a fair bit of maintenance. Our helpers were a godsend






During the planning phase, we had been warned about attempting to work with equipment in the park because it was supposedly home to rival gangs, who would not tolerate an invasion of their territory by artists. After working there intensively over a week, we observed very little to cause concern. On the final day, some local boys discovered the radios and set about removing them from the trees. Watching them playing the dials, it confirmed our perception of a generation removed from the experience of receiving radio signals. Of course they were not happy when they saw me [Sarah] photographing them, and tried to intimidate me a little. I explained that I was documenting the radios as part of our project. It turned out that they knew about Art Special, so when they started up the next tree I asked them to leave the rest in place until the end. They gave up and ran off half exhilarated by their ‘crime’, and half curious about our extraordinary encounter, which had seen them get accidentally involved in an art project







Other public reactions were of equal puzzlement. A sound appeared, and then it was gone. What was it? How? Why? A soundscape suddenly alerted their ears, and just as suddenly all returned to normal. Until an hour later.

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One radio hanging high above a corner of the park apparently frequented by junkies was destroyed. Someone had thrown rocks at it, perhaps spooked in the middle of the night by strange noises…

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And who can blame them?

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Visitors to Art Special heard about the installation in the park and went along to experience it. They did not know however where the radios were placed. This was deliberate, we explained to the parents of our group who were exasperated at not hearing their offspring’s work:

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…the installation was designed to take the public by surprise, not to function as an exhibition space. It was fascinating as these visitors then described all the sounds they had actually heard when not sure what to listen out for. So for them the installation had been activated in a different way – by ‘standing in a park listening’







We had to dismantle the installation during the day while the park was still inhabited, but our apprehension soon turned to pleasure when people started asking us if we were the ones responsible for the noises. The old ladies assured us it would take more than a few peculiar sounds to disturb them, others told of how they had been convinced their friends were playing tricks on them for a few days until one of their party had managed to track down one of the radios. The mood was genial, people we met in the park were quizzical about the project, and some liked it so much they wished it would remain permanently active. We left feeling extremely satisfied and realised that we had become sentimentally attached to the special atmosphere defined by the boundaries of Klingelpütz Park. Today it is a fitting living memorial: until 1968 it was not a park, but the largest prison in Cologne. Between 1933 and 1945 more than 1000 opponents of the Nazi regime were executed here

BERLIN February 2010

February 7, 2010 by Mobile Radio

StationMelt at transmediale 10
StationMelt was a temporary radio project designed to blend Resonance 104.4fm in London with herbstradio in Berlin during the transmediale festival. We worked with Diana McCarty and Pit Schultz to create a synthesis of two radio stations.


The transmediale 10 opening ceremony featuring Yvette Mattern’s impressive 3 kilometre-long laser rainbow projection, ‘From One To Many’


We invited programme makers over from London, and took live broadcasts from each city to play simultaneously on both stations. Here, The Wire magazine rock the house
















We also made our usual transmediale radio round-ups to cover the comings and goings of the festival, which were hosted daily by Diana McCarty, Pit Schultz, Knut and Richard Thomas from Resonance. Round table discussions with various artists, philosophers, radio friends and festival organisers intermingled with favourite broadcasters such as Marold Langer-Philippsen who topped off each day with his magical extra-long night stories


One of our London favourites came to stir up the Berlin airwaves with a German film music special. Jonny Trunk also thrilled his regular global audience by answering the phone himself for his regular telephone competition

ÜRZIG January 2010

January 17, 2010 by Mobile Radio

Art’s Birthday 2010


Mobile Radio joins the annual Art’s Birthday celebrations with ‘I am waiting in a room (with Blumlein)’, a remote inhabited echo chamber


Keeping track of live audio streams


The radio mics in MS mode