SONNTAG, 23. Oktober 2005, 23:05. - 23:45, Ö1


Frequency Post curated by Andrew Garton

I. The Spectrum Wars

by Andrew Garton



What is becoming of The People's Airwaves? Banned from broadcasting Nepalese journalists resort to loud speakers and an open-air studio. Conservation activists barred from community stations in Thailand, a free Frequency Movement is mooted in South Korea and digital broadcasting technologies threaten the viability of the community broadcasters in Australia. These are the Spectrum Wars.

The original intention of the work was to construct the piece around a series of interviews with broadcast recordings providing additional layers that would be processed through generative means, particularly pitch and velocity adjustments at variable intervals over variable lengths.

The primary sound source for signal processing came from an analogue, AM band radio I had found in a hotel room in Seoul, South Korea. There were few barely legible broadcasts to be heard over the dense interference one could alter by way of navigation across the spectrum, or rather, the dial. I found this a most compelling underscore to underpin the entire work by, juxtaposing its dynamic pulses into field recordings making reference to the notion of ?the people's airwaves?.

Through the course of the project much changed within the political landscape of the Asia region. Although one could draw on texts referring to up to 20 years or so of pirate radio activity in countries such as China and Taiwan, it was the present climate I was most interested in addressing. For instance, Korean's saw the establishment of the Coalition for Viewer Participation, lobbying to increase the 100 minutes allocated every month to both radio and television to be the minimum for television alone. The issues and technologies were changing rapidly, as well as the limits put on public access content. Not only were Asian media activists dealing with the complexities of frequency allocation, it was becoming possible, through legislative and legal means, to constrain both content and broadcast times.

In addition to sound sources directly referring to recent broadcast activity in the region, I drew on the resources of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's radio archives. Sources include a BBC news story on the competition amongst many countries for frequencies giving rise to interference as the number of broadcasting services increase, the origins of CB radio in Australia, and a report on free to air broadcasters and their opposition to the allocation of any further licenses within the digital spectrum for up to 10 years, leaving community broadcasters, for instance, to a non-existent audience when analogue broadcasting is to be turned off in 2008.

Other sources include pirate radio broadcasts from Thailand, leaked mobile phone conversations of the Philippines President and broadcast across the country, Australian politicians competing for the most elusive of terms in their deliberations over communications policy.

Produced in association with c2o / Toy Satellite and OPENChannel Melbourne.

The artist wants to thank John Spence from ABC Archives for his help.