In his first piece using radio as a medium, artist, composer and researcher Edwin van der Heide created an immersive environment by making radio waves audible through custom-developed transmitters and handheld receivers. Radiospace opened up an almost-tangible sonic zone in the city, which audiences could navigate while mixing signals and incorporating change by modulating distortion, interference and loudness. Interacting with each of the 15 transmitters in the installation, participants explored a freshly unveiled layer of the city—a new sonic spatial reality.
Edwin van der Heide later teamed up with Jan-Peter Sonntag to experiment with “natural radio”: naturally occurring radio emissions produced by lightning, the interaction between the magnetosphere and the sun, and natural disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field.
In Rund-Funk-Emfangs-Saal—a title based on the poetic German term for broadcast—Van der Heide and Sonntag turned the concept of the radio hall on its head. Instead of transmitting a live concert, they took the signals from the electromagnetic space of the concert hall and used them as source material for a performance. In Radioforest, the two artists set up a live natural radio observatory among the tropical plants of a huge greenhouse in the Botanical Garden in Riga, receiving ultra low frequencies that audiences could tune, filter, layer and spatialize.
In this podcast, we talk with Edwin van der Heide about using radio as a way into the public, outside world, and about radio as a highly regulated space that sometimes resists experimentation. We discuss his early interest in short and medium wave radio and how it came to be expressed in these immersive, awe-inspiring installations, and we speculate about the production of meaning inherent in each of them.
01 Edwin van der Heide & Jan-Peter Sonntag, “Rund-Funk-Empfangs-Saal”, 2013
02 Edwin van der Heide, “Radioscape”, 2000-2007
03 Edwin van der Heide & Jan-Peter Sonntag, “Radioforest”, 2013