I intend to explore the "evolution" of the radio frequency spectrum, from its beginning in
the creation of the universe, to its current utilisation by human society. The evolution of
natural systems on earth will be used as a metaphor for the expansion and proliferation of
the electromagnetic spectrum as human society has progressed - from a simple, community
based focus to the complexities of modern communication technologies and globalisation
(and all the political issues that arise as a result).
The piece will begin with the sound of pulsars (neutron stars), which have been pulsing
across space on a broad range of frequencies for billions of years. This will be accompanied
with text relating to the observation of pulsars via radio astronomy. Alongside these natural
radio sounds from space will be recordings of undisturbed ecosystems made in remote
locations of Australia. I hope to obtain recordings from community radio stations in some of
these areas where the field recordings were made. I will also be travelling some distance
from the city to obtain recordings of some of the very interesting AM radio interference that
occurs at night, when AM signals are often able to travel greater distances than normal.
This will lead into the next section of the piece, which deals with the issues arising from
interference between the various radio frequency bands. Text will be incorporated which
describes some of these issues, eg. interference from TV, mobile phones, CB radio, digital
networks, radar and the effect this has on radio astronomy, navigation, radio broadcasts -
and the general manner in which these types of radio services interfere with one another.
Here the political issues surrounding frequency allocation will be examined. Recordings from radio (talk shows, current affairs etc.) will be combined with the sounds of the
modern, over-crowded metropolis (in contrast to the earlier sounds of community radio
and natural environments). Political tensions, and a sense of chaotic exploitation of the finite
resource of the electromagnetic spectrum, will be expressed in this climactic section of the
The piece will conclude with text dealing with systems theory, networks of
communications, social networks etc. and how an understanding and respect for these
principles can lead to a fair and sustainable management of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Raw sounds used to construct the piece will include:
• Radio telescope recordings of pulsars.
• Field recordings made in far north Queensland.
• Recordings of various radio stations.
• Radio interference and short wave signals.
• Spoken text from various sources dealing with frequency allocation, natural systems etc.
• Pure sine waves at a variety of frequencies to be determined.
These raw sounds will then be processed via a variety of generative techniques, resulting in
a further series of audio files which will be mixed and arranged (also utilising generative
processes) to create the final piece.
Statments by Andrew Garton (Curator):
about Steve Law