Mobile Radio

art project by Sarah Washington & Knut Aufermann

OBERHAUSEN July 2010


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