Reception is Interception - curated by Anna Friz

 | Broadcasts  | Artists  | German Version

Sound is in the air all around us, all the time, whether or not we hear it with our naked ears. Radio waves, shortwave or FM, microwaves, hisses and pops in the ionosphere, cell phone conversations, baby monitors, walkie-talkies; wireless signals crisscrossing the sky, infiltrating buildings, unheard to the unassisted human ear. Sounds may be heard by accident (muzak may invade your ears unsolicited in stores or airport terminals), but it generally takes some doing to listen to the radio, at least to turn on the set and tune the dial. What if we consider listeners not merely as a benumbed mass of passive recipients but as actively seeking out sound? Tools are required to catch the signals, frequencies must be found.
Radio waves also have a history of military applications: to relay encrypted messages, for surveillance, for propaganda. All these elements exist in radio still, from the relentless ticking of the cesium clock measuring atomic time on 15,000AM, to the snatches of distant stations buried deep in the noise on the dial, to the welter of messages that crop up on police scanners, shortwave, and walkie-talkies. Hidden frequencies uncovered: even cordless power tools broadcast a radio signal.

Reception Is Interception asks artists to reconsider radio historically and ontologically and to listen to the electric and acoustic world around them like intrepid spies-- to snoop, to sample, to excavate for sound, and then design their own signal for radiophonic broadcast. Some artists chose to focus on the the interception of acoustic sounds transmitted; like a snore through an open window, or an overheard conversation suddenly surfacing out of the background chatter in a public space.

This is a process that belies a fundamental desire to listen. Reception is interception grabbing sound out of the sky. Scanning for faint, obscure signals; listening for patterns in the rush of static; asking a simple question: what's on the air and who is listening?