Radio with Seoul: Audio Art and Radio Relevance


Art is not something that comes up often in discussions about radio unless one is speaking of music. At least that used to be the case. A movement among certain performance artists towards creating audio art — many times in the form of mashups created on the fly — has been steadily rising.

Right now, for instance, there is quite an intriguing installation in Seoul, Korea, that is broadcasting through a temporary FM station built just for that purpose. I realize that performance art is something that eludes many people. They just do not quite get it. Heck, sometimes I do not get it. In this case, even if you have no interest in the artistic angle, you really should pay attention to the valuable insights about radio as a medium that are coming out of the effort.

Via The Korea Times:

According to the organizers of Sound Effects Seoul Radio 2008 (SFX Seoul), radio is definitely still alive and relevant.

“Radio is a presence in our lives. It’s kind of like a soundtrack to our lives. Something that you don’t know quite what to expect from, something always in the background and usually it is something that you don’t pay attention to directly. …That’s something similar to the way sound art is. Sound art is not an artwork that you can focus on. It is always affected by other sounds. There are a lot of parallels to that with radio. Radio is a medium for presenting sound art,” Baruch Gottlieb, director and co-founder of SFX Seoul, told The Korea Times.

What I love about this is that it support assertions I find myself making frequently: things are changing, radio is still relevant, and that there is still an important and vibrant difference between radio and the web despite the convergent evolution of the two.

SFX Seoul includes a temporary radio station, which is intended to be an extension of Japanese artist Tetsuo Kogawa’s Mini-FM concept, wherein hundreds of people set up their own mini-radio stations in Tokyo.

The event also explores whether radio is still relevant in the age of the Internet. “Why is it so important to broadcast? There are a few sides that are relevant. (Academic) Jonathan Stern says that one of the aspects of radio that makes it different from the Internet is that it is autonomous. While the Internet is tied up with servers and computers, Kogawa showed that with just $20 and a 9-volt battery you can broadcast to anybody within a kilometer. It has a very different presence from the Internet. Kogawa said radio is centripetal, not centrifugal, since it brings people together to the center,” Gottlieb said.

You see? While the 21st Century trend towards audio art may not be your cup of tea, it can still offer insight and perspective on our own medium. This is the cutting edge of art, and they love radio. Keep in mind the “centripetal, not centrifugal” aspect Mr. Gottlieb mentioned. It is quite an insight and one that we will be returning to here on Radio2020.

Until later, Stay Tuned!

Photo courtesy of laszlo-photo used uder its Creative Commons license


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