a telematic radio network project

HORIZONTAL RADIO : A Report by Heidi Grundmann (1)

HORIZONTAL RADIO : a telematic radio network project
    "Hi friends!
    I am sorry your event is closing down in one and a half hours. I have been listening to your nightprogram on FM4 untill the small hours of the morning and I have not missed one of the programs on the cultural channel.
    To me - a radio and netfreak - it was a phantastic adventure to somehow have been part of it. The event has changed my attitude towards nets and about what radio could be in the future as well as my attitude towards information ...."

    (e-mail to the Austrian Radio on June 23rd)

HORIZONTAL RADIO proved to be a unique event. It was realised by more than 200 artists ( the exact number may never be found out) together with a truly unknown number of technicians and organisers. At locations far apart, in different media and on different bandwidths, a wide variety of projects took place simultaneously and, together, drew an image of the rapidly changing communications technologies of our time and their cultural implications.

Unlike the transmission of the New Year's concert of the Vienna Philharmonic or the soccer championships, HORIZONTAL RADIO did not have a center from which the event was transmitted to the whole (passive) world. Instead, the stations, while receiving contributions from - sometimes many - other participants, simultaneously transmitted their own contributions into the net. The result were constantly changing constellations and connections between the participating radiostations, the Internet and the physical sites, at which performances and concerts took place in front of big and small live-audiences and/or people walked through - in some cases interactive - installations.The hierarchical transmitter-receiver model of traditional mass-media was replaced on many levels and in differing intensities by a model of being a participant or at least being part of it..

In projects like HORIZONTAL RADIO artists first assume the role of initiators, organisors, managers, who develop a situation inside networks, in which an unknown number of participants/users will in an effort of distributed authorship be able to contribute to the unfolding of a "piece". This "piece" or "work of art" relates, if at all, only in some aspects or rather fragments to traditional definitions of a work of art. Similar to Christo, artists acting as initiators/organisers of telematic events consider the preparation and design of the situation as part of their artistic activity. But - other then in Christo's projects - the unfolding of the event itself, its wholistic form ("gestalt") and its specific contents escape any control by the initiators, who turn into co-authors among many other participants and users. Each of those - even the most passive user of a radio-programme - develops his or her completely unique image of the whole structure (sculpture), an image that cannot be anything else but a fragmentary memory of something much bigger, something that is breathing like a living organism, constantly changing shape and energy - sometimes resting, sometimes almost bursting.