12 Jan 2011

presentation at The Radio Conference: a Trans-National Forum, January 11-14

on the 12th January I presented a co-written paper with Dr Zita Joyce of the University of Canterbury department of Media & Communication at the Radio Conference, a biannual meeting of radio scholars, teachers and broadcasters hosted in 2011 at the Auckland University of Technology.

Within a rich three days of talks and panels on a variety of topics concerning radio, our paper compared Artist Run Spaces and Student Radio Stations as generative cultural formations, speculating on their respective roles in grass-roots and independent sound culture within New Zealand. The abstract is as follows:


'Student' radio stations and artist run art spaces in New Zealand occupy significant cultural positions across the country. Each of the main cities has one originally student-identified radio station dating back to the 1970s and other more recent small scale stations, as well as one or more funded originally artist-run spaces complemented by a range of usually temporary spaces. 'Student' and 'artist-run', then, stand for two broad cultural formations that are recognised as sites of 'alternative' creative practice in music and art. They provide localised spaces for the presentation of creative practice and the cultivation of interconnected scenes. They both enable, even require, an active involvement in the production of culture so that participants often engage in multi faceted forms of involvement across the overlapping roles of audience, producer, and critic. These roles may be carried across both cultural formations. However when it comes to the uncertain boundaries between sound 'art' and music, there can be an uneasy relationship between work that is 'too arty' (to be music), and 'not really art' (because it is too much like music). In this wary nexus, student radio has seemed to retreat from the 'arty', so that artist run spaces tend to be more open to creative sound exploration in the content of exhibitions and hosted performances. However these sites are perhaps less open and accessible than radio with less opportunity for accidental discovery and the challenging of understandings of 'music'. This paper focuses on sound practices that operate at the boundaries of music and art, comparing the roles of artist run art spaces and student radio stations in supporting experimental music in New Zealand, and the way in which the experimental music scene navigates between these sites.