Heterophonics was a lecture-performance and sound installation for two FM radios and short-distance radio emitters presented at the Departures, Deviations and Elsewheres Artistic Research Symposium, at the European Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania, in March 2019.
Heterophonics – radio as an intersection of displacement and site-specificity
As a young child, even before having my own room in my parent’s home, I was struck by how the experience of listening to radio was radically defined by in-between-ness, and activated by an intense and slightly disorienting curiosity towards otherness, all while powerfully intersecting displacement and site-specificity. Moreover, a battery-operated FM/AM pocket radio with a wire antenna (the kind I had), if paired with headphones, can provide a magical blanket of privacy in relation to one’s immediate surroundings, while providing access to farther worlds of sonic imagination.
Of course, at the time these were not the words I had available to formulate my experience. What I was was fascinated by how voices and music from the beyond could come and reach my ears, as I lay under the (no-longer metaphorical) blankets in early nightfall, just before drifting into sleep. And without wires! The world was much less wireless back then.
Most fascinating for me, was the foreign radio coming from beyond the borders. Even beyond the exoticism of unfamiliar vocal geographies, the very act of tuning manually – meaning, traversing the static noise between station frequencies – provides access to a transitive soundscape of glitched/cacophonic heterotopia, stimulated by a phenomenology of expectation.
Heterophonics is a lecture-performance on the multiple and often incongruous overlapping of imaginary geographies that listening to radio provides. It also deals with how the located body – the listener, wherever she is to be found – is a fully active participant in this heterotopian space, and some notes on the phenomenology and politics of inhabiting it. In sum, this lecture explores traditional radio as a portable heterotopian grid/access point, as well as its nuanced variations in our present age of constant (dis)connectivity.