Established in 1998 in Australia, radioqualia is an artist collective cofounded by Honor Harger and Adam Hyde, both from New Zealand. Characterized by a flexible and mobile structure, radioqualia associates itself, depending on the nature of its projects, with artists, scientists and various organizations in order to engage in different forms of online artistic collaborations. They explore the concept of broadcasting using the internet, radio and television, but they also use performance, publishing and gallery exhibits to document their work.
Honor Harger is particularly interested in the artistic use of new technologies. Besides her artistic practice she is also active as a curator for different exhibition projects: The Physics Room in New Zealand,the HDLU in Zagreb, Croatia and the Queens Gallery of the British Council in New Delhi, India. She was a curator for Communication Front 2000
in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and she contributed to the organization of Net Congestion: the International Festival of Streaming Media
an event held in Amsterdam in October 2000. In 2000, she worked as the website curator for the Tate Modern in London, as well as organizing events and concerts for their performance and education department.
Adam Hyde is a musician and artist who is interested in the convergence of broadcasting and internet related technologies. In New Zealand he worked in radio and television and founded Static Television, the first community televison station in the country. He lived in Amsterdam from 1999 to 2003 where he collaborated in the founding of HelpB92 and Open Channels for Kosovo that supported independent media in ex-Yugoslavia. He is the instigator behind Net Congestion
, and he co-founded the Open Source Streaming Alliance an initiative which set up several streaming servers for artistic and cultural use. Using the pseudonym "eset" he works as a musician and an artist whose practice consists of software development. As such he has developed several application such as the Theory Machine
and the Frequency Clock
Among the collective's many projects two have close ties with Radio Astronomy
, the project supported by the foundation. The two projects are Acoustic Space Lab
and a residency at the Makrolab in Scotland during the month of July, 2002.
The term "net.radio", a contemporary of "net.art", made its appearance following the activities of Xchange, a network of musicians, DJ's and sound artists. (1)
An initiative of e-Lab, a media arts artist collective based in Latvia, Xchange started as a website and mailing list documenting the growing number of artist groups that are experimenting with net.radio. The strategies used by Xchange are not without precedent. Back in the 60s and 70s Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T) organized important artistic telecommunications projects using telex and satellite transmission. (2)
For example: the Anand Project
(1969-1971), that took place in India, E.A.T. coordinated the Site Television Satellite
which broadcast programs made in India.; the Telex: Q&A
(1969-1971), E.A.T. set up a telecommunications system using telex machines that linked New York, Stockholm, Ahmedabad (India) and Tokyo. Let us also mention The World in 24 Hours
, the pionnering project created by Robert Adrian X during the 1982 Ars Electronica
festival. During this project artists situated in 16 countries and on three continents where in constant contact during 24 hours. According to Adrian X, “The intention of The World in 24 Hours
was to follow the midday sun around the planet - creating a kind of telematic world map.” (3)
At noon then, “With 3 telephone-lines available in Linz it was possible to send and receive using up to 3 media. (...) The media available were Slow Scan Television, Telefacsimile, Computer-Timesharing and simply sound transmission.” (4)
With this project and in the spirit of conceptual art the goal was not to create art works but rather to construct particular mediated relations between the participants and to produce
communication events. This also holds true for Radio Astronomy
in which the work of art is the project itself and not the interventions or the objects proposed by the participants.
Supported by the foundation in 2001, and initiated by the RIXC, the Centre for New Media Culture, in Riga, Latvia, the project Acoustic Space Research Lab and Program (5)
consisted of setting up a research program dedicated to acoustic space. The project is based on a long term cooperation between different international artist groups and individuals from the Xchange network. A symposium held from August 4 to 12, 2002 in Irbene, Latvia, brough together a group of 30 sound artists, scientists and activists. These artists had the oportunity to work with a 32 meter diameter radiotelescope dish, abandonned by the Soviet army in 1994, and which has since been repaired by the radio astronomers from the Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Center (VIRAC). The participants recorded sounds and data emanating from the observation of the planets, communication satellites and the surrounding environment. They also engaged in an important reflection process on how to use collaborative audio communication tools to broaden the meaning and potential of net.radio. The project documentation on the radioqualia website contains images of the radiotelescope dish, electronic files of the sounds recorded during the symposium (6)
as well as the participants' commentaries. (7)
The Slovenian non-profit organization Zavod Projekt Atol, founded in 1992 and run by Marko Peljhan, is at the origin of the 1994 Makrolab
project. Its activities range from artistic production to scientific research. Makrolab is a temporary sustainable research station designed to promote the integration of artistic and scientific research through communication technologies. The station can support four people for 120 days in an isolated environment. From May to July 2002, on an invitation by Atholl Estates, Marko Peljhan and his team of artists and scientists installed the Makrolab on the mountains above Blair Atholl in Scotland. In looking at the documentation images of the project, one asks how and why this strange station ended up in this magificent landscape? According to Kodwo Eshun (8)
, the project has twin imperatives: during its two week stay at the Makrolab the team's responsibility is to carry out research and to develop specific projects; during this time the team must also generate a sense of group consciousness. Makrolab's objective is to carry out experiments in four fields of activity: telecommunications, weather patterns, the environment and migration. (9)
During its stay, radioqualia built a transmitter and launched Makrolab's first FM radio station. This station had a 500 meter transmission radius. Makrolab106FM was on the air from July 18 to July 28, 2002. The first broadcast was a audio work by radioqualia. Afterwards, the station broadcast music from net.radio stations affiliated with Xchange network as well as music from the CD collections of team members. This residence layed the foundations for the Radio Astronomy
project: besides contacting radioastronomers and institutions, radioqualia also began observing objects in the galaxy. Among other things the collective proceeded to listen and record radio storms from Jupiter. (10)