I would like to share an idea in development and something I have been working on related to micro-FM radio transmitters, which may have potential application for autonomous radio broadcasts during Aerocene flights: pirate radio interventions in the Aerocene.
There is a long history in radiophonic arts of experimenting with micro-FM transmissions. Researchers and artists like Tetsuo Kogawa argued that global media communication networks are today so smooth, vast and complex, that critical interference in the radio spectrum should happen in micro, tactile, community oriented and DIY modes. Kogawa writes: ““micro” in micro radio doesn’t necessarily mean low power or small scale. It connotes something qualitatively different - micro means diverse, multiple, and polymorphous.” Kogawa among others developed a series of micro-FM radio transmitters that can transmit in the FM part of the radio spectrum, but advocated for the use of these transmitters in multiple media interventions that departed from and disrupted standardized commercial broadcasting.
See Tetsuo Kogawa’s site for more info: http://anarchy.translocal.jp/
We could include in our historical lineage the low-power pirate radio scene in Italy (in which Felix Guattari participated) or Napoleon Williams’ Black Liberation Radio in Illinois, or (although it was internet based) the B92 radio station in Belgrade in the late 1990s. Today we are seeing a resurgence of interest in micro-fm transmission, with new books being written about low-power community radio, and workshops on DIY transmission media springing up in lots of places.
As part of some ongoing experiments in the politics of the radio spectrum, I worked with my local radio club (The Radio Society of Harrow in London) to construct one of the simplest versions of Tetsuo Kogawa’s micro-fm transmitter designs (pictured here). It is versatile, extremely light, and battery powered. You can add a microphone or an audio input cable. With this tiny radio, one can ‘interfere’ or broadcast-into the fm spectrum, for anyone with an fm radio to hear.
In past discussions about how Aerocene engages with the radio spectrum, we asked how to make these radio relationships palpable and visible for participants who are not licensed radio amateurs. There was also a question about how Aerocene engages with the politics of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is relatively clear to many of us what Aerocene is proposing in relation to energy use, and regimes of carbon-based fuel. But what is Aerocene’s code of ethics or manifesto for the radio spectrum, on which it also depends?
A micro-fm transmitter like this one can be easily attached to an Aerocene payload as it exists now. While an Aerocene sculpture is flying on a tether, the micro-radio can be broadcasting on the fm spectrum, and participants on the ground can listen-in live to the micro broadcast coming from the flying sculpture. Perhaps this is one way to engage participants and non radio-amateurs in questions about radio politics. Perhaps it is one way to create more of a tangible sensory connection between a floating Aerocene sculpture and those on the ground. Perhaps we could have Aerocene pirate radio parties. From before Aerocene was called Aerocene, we always had dance parties inside and around aero-solar sculptures
There is too much to include in one post, so I am leaving out a lot of context and ideas, both conceptual and technical. If anyone is interested in collaborating further on this do let me know!