is a radio art piece telling a non verbal story about the many sides of broadcasting transmission, portraying the unspeakable complexity of multilayered communication between human beings through technology.
What's the meaning of broadcasting in contemporary time? Is that meaning more articulated than one is aware of?
According to media studies, broadcasting is the communication going from one to many. Sometime in the past broadcasting was through bullhorns or smoke signals. Many traditions are still alive: in Rome, when a new Pope is nominated, a heated stove in the Sistine Chapel propagates a white smoke in the sky above the Vatican.
On a larger scale, with the mass communication era radio and television became widespread. Today, digital media is extending the meaning of broadcasting. With the co-existence of many protocols and devices, transmission from one to many is still implying manifold possibilities: intercom, wired broadcasting, online streaming. Even voice clips in instant messaging groups or social networks can be considered evolved ways of broadcasting communication.
While scrolling tik tok I sometimes think that at the beginning of time broadcasting was also the sound of lightnings, strikes and other atmospheric phenomena, touching the ears of the beings living on the ground; those sounds are now recorded in scientific research contexts and can be heard.
Things change remarkably when transmission is framed from the side of the listeners. Broadcasted messages interact with different physical environments, merge with other communication flows and most of all with different psychological attitudes in the listeners. Like the facets of a prism, the perception of broadcasted sound changes subtly or plainly. At the same time, the relationship between the sound medium and the space where the sound propagates and is listened to has become particularly complex. It now involves many aspects related to physics, acoustics, psychology, sociology among the others.
In the current covid19 pandemic we witness a massive shift towards digital streaming. The digital medium is slowly transforming the traditional sound experience from the concert/performance/event/installation formats to the consumption of a commodity, to be enjoyed according to each listener's preferences: sound's ability to push the listener into unknown perception scenarios is thus de-potentiated.
Given this background, Broadcasting bouquet addresses the topic of broadcasting and three dimensional space, underlining the link between sound wave transmission and spatial volumes. The piece includes glimpses from FM and AM analog radio broadcasting, as well as short wave transmission and closed-circuit intercom, intertwining them with the individual digital 'consumption' of social network broadcasting, asynchronous messaging and live streaming, usually happening in more intimate and domestic settings. Time based media tend to give a linear interpretation of sound art, putting it in close relationship with (conceptual) music and its grammar. If conceived as an artistic language, sound can then be interpreted not only through metre, rhythm but also through colour, balance/imbalance, and much more, all of this to convey the sense of the intangible, as it happens in poetry. However, when a framework of visual interpretation is adopted, sound art rarely is conceived beyond the idea of collage or patchwork, thus revealing a limitation in the possibilities of composition aesthetics. In the case of Broadcasting bouquet, for example, Yoko Ono's Rooms is a source of inspiration rooted in poetry, performance and in installation. As she described in her Blue Room Event (1966) “Many rooms, many dreams, many countries in the same space...”; Broadcasting bouquet distills in the same conceptual space a multiplicity of realities threaded together despite being heterogeneous.
The fragments of sound and verbal communication combined together are meant to create a feeling of uniqueness, transcending the intellectual constraints of the traditional Deleuze-Guattari's definition of assemblage in Mille Plateaux. A translation of the sound piece in visual and installation media would then be a natural process of mirroring, underlining how different dimensions of the same reality permeate each other, every medium presenting different angles of perception of the same phenomenon.
Quite unexpectedly, I got acquainted with the still life work of XVII century Dutch painter Rachel Ruysch while attending artist Anna Ridler's talk about art and AI. I then studied Ruysch's painting practice and the process behind it. Not all Ruysch's bouquets of flowers were realistic. In fact, the flowers Ruysch painted in some of these bouquets were not blooming in the same periods of the year, preventing them to be composed together in a given time. These bouquets represented an idea produced by Ruysch's imagination in the pursuit of beauty and harmony. I was touched by her deep commitment to this pursuit and by the way her artworks celebrate it through a free composition of flowers.
A further metaphor to describe what has inspired Broadcasting bouquet can be found in what Walter Benjamin wrote in The Origin of German Tragic Drama: “Ideas are to objects as constellations are to stars. […] Constellations are interpretive images, disparate points of light rendered legible through the creation of a figure that leaps to view”. This insight is what ultimately can describe this piece and condensate its composition process.
List of broadcasting sources:
Luna Rossa youtube live streaming during 2021 America's Cup; intercom in waiting hall at Policlinico Gemelli in Rome; tik tok random scroll; whistlers, chorus and others natural radio signals in the 1- 30 kHz range; commercial radio broadcast on FM with random UHF interference; short wave broadcast from unknown arab country; tweeks and spherics from INSPIRE VLF radio receiver at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center; Meteomar broadcast through VHF; audio messages on Cashmere Radio telegram open group; intercom at gate of Tokyo Kokusai Kuko airport; intercom on local train entering Berlin Hauptbahnhof; commercial radio broadcast on FM with random interferences, WSPR coded radio transmission, instagram #asmr stories.
Mixed by Erdem Helvacioglu, thanks to Petri Kuljuntausta, Matteo Polato, Filippo Lilli, the Freesound community and Carlo Giordani.
In radio broadcasting, numbers stations are shortwave radio stations that have been broadcasting sequences of words and numbers (mostly numbers) with no apparent logical sequence for many years. The messages, which are actually encrypted with a Vernam cipher, last on average 45 minutes. Each message is often preceded by an identifier. For example: 'Atenciòn! 12345 - 45678 - 98765 etc etc...'.
Number stations vary in their activity over time (although some of them follow regular schedules) and their broadcasts have become less frequent since the early 1990s. It is known that most of the communications from these radios are directed by government agencies to people in the intelligence services. In 1997, with a reissue in 2013, The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations, a four-CD set containing recordings of numbers stations, was released.
Fibonacci numbers: Leonardo Pisano known as Fibonacci (Pisa, c. September 1175 - Pisa, c. 1235) is considered one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. In 1202 he published, and in 1228 rewrote the Liber abbaci, a work with which he introduced the nine digits, which he called "Indian", and the 0 sign.
Fibonacci also introduced a special selection of numbers in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers and the first two terms of the sequence are by definition 1 and 1. The sequence was formulated by Fibonacci while he was trying to find a solution to a practical problem, namely a mathematical law that could describe the growth of a population of rabbits. In 1611, Kepler discovered that the ratio of two consecutive numbers in the succession increasingly approximated the number 1.618.
The recurrence of Fibonacci numbers in nature was already known in antiquity and is often referred to as the 'golden ratio'. This system of proportions is found in the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms.
Around 300 BC, the Babylonians began to use a simple numbering system in which they used two inclined wedges to mark a blank space. However, this symbol had no real function other than as a placeholder. The zero symbol derives from the Greek letter omicron, which is systematically found in the tables of Ptolemy and Jamblichus, who used it as early as the first century AD. The full name was οὺδἐν (ouden = nothing). The Indians later learned of its existence almost certainly from the Greeks after the conquests of Alexander the Great and in late Hellenism.
The use of zero as a number in itself is a relatively recent introduction to mathematics, which is due to Indian mathematicians, although the ancient Mesoamerican peoples arrived at the concept of zero independently. An early study of zero by Brahmagupta dates back to 628.
The Arabs learned the decimal positional numbering system from the Indians and transmitted it to the Europeans during the Middle Ages (hence numbers written in this system are still called Arabic numerals in the West today). They called zero sifr (صفر): this term means "empty", but in Latin translations it was referred to as zephirum (by simple assonance), i.e. zephyr (a figure from Greek mythology, personification of the west wind).
Leonardo Fibonacci introduced positional numeration to Europe: he translated sifr into zephirum; this gave rise to the Venetian zevero and then the Italian zero.
Zero was also used as a number in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. It was used by the Olmecs and later civilisations.