11 May 2009

environmental radio : radio d' Oiseaux

radio d'Oiseaux is a solar powered radio station for New Zealand native birds. Currently a fieldwork project, it will eventually manifest as series of radio cegeste site specific performances.

as an "environmental radio" and conceptual media project, radio d'Oiseaux looks at the links between transmission, locality and territory.

as a sound-site, the birdsong is a place of trauma and nostalgia in NZ, a situation helped along by its long association with public broadcasting. the public outcry a few years back at the intended removal of field recordings of native avian species, long a temporal marker for news reports on Radio New Zealand National, provided weighty evidence of its cultural place. The presence of bridsong as ‘soundmark’ can be percieved as displaying a memorialising or museological function. To replay already-extant sound has its own embedded politic - the loop itself is a ‘territorialised’ refrain in Deleuze’s terminology – here, Radio New Zealand's treatment of the sounds of birds is a paradigm reiterated in cultural terms by the replay of songs sent to radio stations by record companies. Instead, to deteritorialise this medium’s approach to art, we might learn from talking to the animals.


“the plan was to put microphones in remote locations uninhabited by humans and to broadcast whatever might be happening out there; the sounds of wind and rain, the cries of birds and animals – all the uneventful events of the natural soundscape transmitted without editing into the hearts of the cities. It seemed to us that since man has been pumping his affairs into the natural soundscape, a little natural wisdom might be a useful antidote”.

“An excess of environmental noise produces sloppy listeners. We no longer listen to the radio, we overhear it. It stays on, shielding us from the coarseness of modern life. Radio has become the birdsong of the twentieth century, decorating the environment with “pretty””

- R. Murray Schafer

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