|STATION TO STATION
The project STATION TO STATION was decided upon in the 1996 ARS ACUSTICA meeting
in Copenhagen. It was supposed to be a further development to Horizontal Radio (1995)
and Rviers& Bridges (1996).
That it did not develop this way was mainly due to the fact that none of the members of the Ars Acustica Group was able to take over the function of coordinator and 'hub'.
So the project in the end became part of the Long Night of Live Radio Art at the Recycling The Future Event whicht took place on the occasion ot the 10th anniversary of ORF's Kunstradio.
The Long Night of Live Radio Art included Station to Station projects like
TOUCHLESS (Moscow-Vienna- Madrid)
as well as pieces coming from the Greek Radio, the Polish Radio, Radio Croatia, Radio Canada, by artists associations like Stadtwerkstatt Linz or AVATAR, Montreal, and by individual artists, who could not be among the over 70 international artists and theoreticians taking part actively in Recycling the Future at any rate.
The Long Night of Radio Art was offered via satellite to all members of the EBU. It was supported by SFB Berlin.
At the yearly ARS ACUSTICA meeting which in 1997 was organised by Deutschlandradio und SFB in Berlin and which turned out to be the biggest ARS ACUSTICA meeting so far some discussion about very different definitions of radio-art emerged , crystallising around a kind of manifesto delivered by our Dutch colleagues A very hot debate followed after the presentation of the paper.
This is why we are publishing the paper here. If you want to discuss it, please send an
e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
|NPR & VPRO
Michael Fahres, Armeno Alberts, Piet Hein van de Poel
contribution to the ARS ACUSTICA Meeting, Berlin, 4 October 1997
The project STATION TO STATION, Ars Acustica planned for December 1997 connects by telephone, ISDN, Internet and Satellite connections worldwide artists and radio stations.
What a revolution you might call it.
Finally no borders, geographically or artistically. Finally artists in London and Moscow are able to communicate interactively and the radio is listening as well as being an acoustic intermediair towards mothersí living-room.
At the same time there is the question of recycling the future in a period of environment-sensitivity and growing fear for the year 2000, where stations present themselves as a protective huarding roof against the disorder of society, still reporting on actions like this. All hipes of western philosophy are connected in a technical network, so nobody will be able to get of the hook. Who would have the courage to withdraw from responsibility for such a broad/big project.
In the same time reading the concepts of Station to Station makes our stomach rolling, so much hipe so little content.
History first. Wasnít it already for some time: the illusion of being there, when Eurovision broadcasts or live broadcasts from the Metropolitan are on? To be connected and (mind you) no admission fee!
Didnít Radio Iceland give there points for the Dutch Schlager during the Eurovision Song Contest, referring to the fact that Nordic people understand a different musical language, or not?
The question of a network of connections being interactive or not, for example through phone calls by listeners or by editors, has been a prominent task of all broadcasters as well being live!
We should have serious thoughts about how far listeners finally have the possibility to decide on radio programmes, where as broadcasters, in a period of time where commercial competition decides on Middle of the road, not freed from political opinions can or have to function.
The Intendant, the general manager could be left out of broadcasting organizations. Donít you think?
Radio waves reach every ear, so it is the responsibility of broadcasters to watch over quality. Centralized networks and biased reporting and infiltrating, which is in the hand of a few people; this dangerous zone we recognize from history and now in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The structure of broadcasting organizations in Holland is based on such historical experiences.
Of course the paper Station to Station is mentioning decentralization. But is it so? Decentralization in this case means more sub-networks, so in effect more centralization.
Not a word about clear points of view to be transmitted; so the paper is not democratic, where as it is not formulating premises of content, in this way not offering creative people possibilities to say yes or no to this project.
Letís take a closer look to the artists.
The only thing to connect artists, is the transmitting technology by means of (for example) Real Audio/Video Internet, technically completely insufficient in quality, brought to people having CD/Video players available. The Internet has not developed its own aesthetics so far, since all tools have been copied from radio, TV, newspapers, film, video or computers.
Those who have been at the Internationale Funk Ausstellung here in Berlin last month, have got a preview on one single machine integrating all possibilities mentioned above. To handle such an integrated machine, as well as to handle creativity, is going to be generalized by simple software and/or computer language. So far computers specially built for Internet-use, already follow this trend. The media is the message could not be more single-minded. Those who propose a mono-culture by means of a network of connections, controlling all media, are pushing artists, not offering space to them. In other words: an art with no interest in a network of connections/not interested in limited space, has no future. In fact it looks like Station to Station supports that sort of cultural neo-colonialism, promoted by industrialized nations and multi-nationals by means of technology and market interest to set for the 21st century preferable on a worldwide scale. Any creative artists is supposed to follow this neo-colonialism, or is banned into total isolation.
It could not be the case that creative radio is raising interest for these artists who do support this so called positive development. Station to Station seems to be like the beginning of radio in the twentieth, breathing all technical innovations without thinking about the consequences. Let us keep in mind what happened at the research laboratory of Telefunken in 1931 in Berlin, where under ideal circumstances, radio transmissions technology and musical instruments (like the Trautonium) were developed. Only years later they realized what were the consequences of it all.
But letís take a closer look at Station to Station, not just in a simplified way. Of course it is worthwhile, through the technology in our living-room to have available, to be connected with somebody else, even to be connected with radio. A leading Japanese developer at Sony once said: ìAs soon as being connected through a network with all fields of labor, working-time is going to be reduced. There is more private time. Isnít that beautiful?î
Exactly this is where Ars Acustica also has come to stuck.
Users are been misleaded by means of technological innovations, the other side of the coin remains in the dark. It looks like art is going to be misled the same way.
Prof. Christian Mikunda from Vienna is also talking about reduced emotional content of the Internet. To phrase it another way: occupied by all these technical problems and possibilities, artists so far have no way to express themselves most effectively. In the end technological developments in Photography or synthesizers becoming available, offered new kinds of art-forms, but not a different quality of art.
An example: the basis of musical education still refers to music of the 19th century. Even synthesizers with Stockhausen & Hip Hop, or without Stockhausen & Hip Hop, does not lead children into a different world of music. Talking about music software for kids: itís incredibly conservative.
Creative Radio could be of great importance in opening-up this rusty considerations about quality. But as long as radio only keeps working with so-called interactive communication, presenting a view of life like ìme and the entire worldî, such an important role will not be realized by Radio.
Let us call for specific examples, not mentioning names.
1. Offer: an artists wants to create live connections between Jerusalem, Amsterdam, Berlin and Warsaw in order to make people aware of multi-cultural problems in Israel.
Question: Correct me if Iím wrong, but isnít this was I daily hear in news programmes. So why live?
In other words: information-value of the live connection = nihil. You might just as well produce it as H^rspiel/radio drama in a studio. Let us not talk about the costs = enormous.
Another offer: live connection with the Indians of the Amazonas in Brazil. Everybody can hear the acoustic environment over there.
Answer: This is just the same story as before. Extra value of information by means of live connection = nihil, because it being simultaneously does not offer new perspectives, does not offer a clear view on the problems in the Amazonas.
By the way: live transmissions of artistic productions are making differences only through presentation in the studio. So much cable-radio & TV, so much live broadcasts, it seems the sensation-value is getting little by little. There is no other value.
2. Offer: an artist is playing on his keyboard at home, and: through MIDI & Internet live feeding Ö the same type of keyboard on a stage of a concert hall.
Question: is such a live connection ableveral artists are playing music live, all connected by means of Internet, ISDN or Satellite.ous costs!
3. Offer: several artists are playing music live, all connected by means of Internet, ISDN or Satellite.
Question: Why live through Internet, ISDN or Satellite? Playing rhythmically, playing simultaneously means at least 1/3 of a second delay between those connected. No musicians are capable to coop with that.
4. Offer: an interview should be taped with someone in the USA through ISDN, whereas the sound of the voice would be distorted using a regular telephone connection.
Question: Will the person to be interviewed be in a studio? We didnít hear any delay. That is right. The delay was ñ where necessary ñ edited away. In a regular conversation you will always have natural pauses.
5. Offer: several radio stations intend to create a live performance of radio art/ars acustica, or the art of making radio. It should be presented, discussed, produced live on stage in 1998.
In this way networks are made visible; working methods connected with editorial freedom are been performed, clearified in front of a public, and to be broadcast live by all participating radio stations.
Question: Is the network recognizable, is it interactive?
Answer: Yes it is. Even the public attending is made part of the performance as it is to be broadcast live. Any question can be answered instantly.
What do we earn out of this?
Playing music live through a technological network, at least becoming difficult, if not impossible so far.
The box can not replace a concert stage unplegged or not. Musicians and their public have to make serious technological efforts towards the net-art-products. So this kind of levelling off, is going to be compensated by those visiting a concert hall visually using their own creativity, not really linked to the concert as such, in order to emotionally react to the performance.
The more network connections are in between musicians and their public, the less physical reactions are available to the public. There will be no physical existence , no fats play between musicians, no change in sound patterns.
The extra value of networks is not a musical one, not in communication, but an imaginary not even non-musical value; a value of just sending, Bits, Kilobits, Megabits and so on.
Besides: what is the meaning of interactivity?
What really happens: software programmers offer you a specific set of possibilities; your choice is limited by those software makers and their ideas. This is not interactivity at all!
Then there is the old-fashioned system: listener is posing questions, radio station is answering. Are we satisfied with such a limited value of interactivity? If yes, we have to face that thereís no news from the western front, since there has been none for a long time.
It seems interactivity is more a kind of wishful thinking, a target for the future, but has not been achieved yet.
MIT in Boston is working on a recognition principal, recognizing and interpreting facial expressions towards questions/is it possible to interprete emotional expressions by software. A first step towards a genuine interactivity?
On the other hand: working with speech/language can still be positive, as long as studio editing is possible.
We would like to emphasize, where as we are here in a symposium on acoustic art, the project station to station is not really up to music, but only music-related, or speech based arts.
The question remains: will Station to Station actually take place, or can take place?
Summarizing: the language called music does not contain a station. Even if the train has left, still radio-train-stations are needed, in the long run again to deal with music.
Station to Station seems to be a terminal-station: lots of ins and outs, but no train, not even a TGV will leave the platform, or it should be in reversed direction.