Radio Art

Wolf Vostell, Umgraben, 1974, Photo: Andreas Buttmann

The cooperative research project of the Centre for Artist’s Publications, the University of Bremen, and the University of Cologne is dedicated to the systematic art- and media-historical research of radio art. The term “radio art” initially encompasses all radio broadcasts that artists have produced around and for radio. It also includes artistic works that are published via radio stations or Internet radio, and/or that are based on the broadcasting of acoustic or radiophonic signals. With special reference to the digital radio art holdings at the Centre for Artist’s Publications, the project, which is funded by the VW Foundation, investigates the question of which paradigms and parameters have led to the emergence and development of an art with electronic communication media internationally since the 1960s at the latest. In three subprojects, the influence of technologies on radio art, its institutional context and its power structures, as well as aspects of mediation are thus discussed.

The results of the three research fields are presented in three dissertations, a monograph, a conference with documentation and in two exhibitions, making optimal use of the synergy effects.

Further information on radio art can be found on the online research platform of the Centre for Artists’ Publications forschung-kuenstlerpublikationen.de.

What is Radio Art?

Orson Welles, War of the Worlds (Cover)

Radio art – these are works that artists have developed specifically for radio: Sound or noise compositions, radio plays, actions or concerts, sound performances, satellite sound sculptures, soundscapes, radio art installations, networked (media) projects up to electroacoustic music. Radio art moves in an artistic interdisciplinary field in the context of visual art, experimental literature and new music. This breadth is also reflected in the art movements in which the various works of radio art can be located: Conceptual Art, Conceptualism, Electroacoustic Art, Electronic Music, Digital Music, Fluxus, Land Art, Sound Poetry, Mail Art, Minimal Art, Musique Concrète, New Music, Performance, Pop Art, Telematic Art, Video Art, Visual and Concrete Poetry, etc.

The artists’ engagement with the medium of radio took place on an institutional level on the one hand and on an autonomous level on the other. The artists who produced radio art programs in their studios or at local radio stations since the 1960s understood radio as a space for information and communication and for the most part worked with the simplest means. On this basis, they improvised with everyday objects and often the simplest technology, but in such a way that conceptually, in the sense of an “economy of means” – also formulated by M. Glasmeier in the context of the Fluxus movement – works with a special artistic conciseness emerged. This is also based on the independence from the rules and norms of large institutions and the aesthetic ideas of editors and directors.