Broadcasting bouquet is a sound 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.
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 the Freesound community and Carlo Giordani.