30 Dec 2016

radio feature: "In Prototype Days: sounds and stories from the Sound Preservation Association of Tasmania"

In Prototype Days is an experimental documentary radio feature that details scenes in the everyday life of not-for profit small museum The Sound Preservation Association of Tasmania (S.P.A.T.), located in the quiet suburb of Bellerive, in Hobart, Tasmania. The museum is dedicated to the preservation and display of historic sound technologies, and is a rich repository of devices and narratives which emphasise often localised and minor histories. The feature is told through the voices of the custodians of these technologies, some of whom have been working in radio and sound recording in the state for over 50 years. 

This feature was commissioned by Radio National's Soundproof program. It can be listened to here.

"If the history of technology is a repository of memory, then it's not a seamless recall. According to Lindsay McCarthy, president of the Sound Preservation Association of Tasmania (who himself first went on the radio waves in 1950), between the 1890s and the 1930s there wasn't anything recorded in Tasmania. Much of what was recorded only survives in the archives of S.P.A.T., a small museum and archive devoted to the history of recorded sound, located in an old post office in a quiet suburb on the eastern shore of Hobart's Derwent River. A love letter to amateur culture, In Prototype Days portrays scenes from the everyday life of S.P.A.T. Taking the lid off the museum's 'beautiful room', stacked floor-to-ceiling with hundreds of meticulously catalogued machines from the history of recorded and transmitted sound, alongside tens of thousands of recorded items from local and national audio history, presents a daunting, even overwhelming task.But as we walk into the room, memory gets specific. Within the walls of S.P.A.T., we hear the wonder of the simplest sound recording devices, like the Australian-invented card talk cardboard record player, made of folded cardboard and played with a steady hand holding a pencil at 78rpm, the sounds of once popular household playback devices like gramophones and phonographs, and tales from the pre-history of radio, when it was a rite of passage to make a crystal set by hand, with whatever was lying around the house."

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