I’m obsessed with pirate radio. This is a long obsession, one that pre-dates the film Pump Up the Volume. It isn’t just those radio pirate ships off the coast of England in the ’60s (another obsession of mine is Sealand, but I digress). I was intrigued by the fact that Western radio could be heard over borders in East Germany or anywhere that one dared to send a signal.
Smartphone culture and iTunes have replaced the spontaneity of broadcasting with a more narrow customer-demand service. It’s one of the great losses that I both mourn and contribute to as a insatiable podcast consumer and Spotify subscriber. Yet, you can bet that on May 27 and 28th, I’ll be humping around a radio to participate in Eastern Bloc’s PirateBlocRadio: In Situ.
Six radio performances will be released into the public space around Kabane77 (Little Italy and Mile End). Things start with Andrew O’Connor‘s Mobile Transmitter Test #1: The Harvard Sentences. In this piece, the transmitters all broadcast a loop of archival material drawn from The Harvard Sentences, a collection of phrases used to test transmission equipment. After that, Alexis Bellavance will project prerecorded sounds on the FM band, while Amanda Dawn Christie will perform a requiem for Radio Canada International’s shortwave site that was stopped in 2014.
On Sunday, the airwaves are alive again. Martin Rodriguez will re-allocate the FM-band (can that be done?). Darsha Hewitt creates an audiovisual work related to mercury-vapour technology. Things end with Mark Lowe’s Evisceration of Context, which uses the AM Radio frequencies and other radio frequency signals to transmit sounds.
While it sounds more arty than the music or talk radio I prefer, I am still glad that there are those out there who are still making uses of all the radio frequencies out there.
PirateBlocRadio: In Situ takes place on May 27 and 28 from 2 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Kabane77 (77 Bernard E). Bring a portable FM radio.