Tag Archive: radio


My long essay on the future of acoustic storytelling has finally been translated into English. You can read and download the full text on my website. Here is the tl;dr version:

Radio plays, features, radio art, reportages and literary readings are acoustic storytelling. Acoustic storytelling is the art of radio. With its production of acoustic narratives, radio generates cultural assets whose lasting value is expressed in the currency of attention. In a changing media landscape, linear broadcasting models become the enemy of attentive listening. The only place listeners can choose when to listen is online. The internet is not a supplementary medium to accompany radio programming. It is becoming the medium and the technical infrastructure through which radio is received. Media convergence has rendered the concept of broadcasting obsolete. In response to changing listening habits, acoustic narratives must be made available via the internet: on demand and forever. This requires a central online portal for acoustic storytelling. Radio becomes a platform for creating contexts where listeners can put together their own programme. Content producers must be properly remunerated. The networked radio play is a form of acoustic storytelling that has yet to be invented, but which might be a timely response to the changing media world.

IMG_0518The text discusses the German radio landscape, where the federal structure of public-service broadcasting is in contrast to the anglo-american system. But nonetheless, my deliberations might pose some general questions about the challenges radio plays are confronted with in the digital age. The translation was accomplished by Nicholas Grindell. The text was also the basis for some sort of manifesto I developed together with Heiko Martens and presented at Berlin’s Akademie der Künste in March of this year. The “digital manifesto” can be listened to at this site, but only in German.

Das vernetzte Hörspiel

0307_RadioZukunft_FernkopieAnlässlich des Festivals “Radio Zukunft. Tage der Audiokunst” in der Berliner Akademie der Künste vom 7. bis 10. März 2013 habe ich mir ein paar Gedanken gemacht. Mit dem Festivalleiter Oliver Sturm und dem Autoren Heiko Martens gab es in diesem Winter lange Gespräche über die Zukunft des Hörspiels in der digitalen Welt. Heiko hatte schon im November letzten Jahres seine Ideen in dem Text “Medientransformation – Ein Impuls” sehr wortgewandt zum Ausdruck gebracht. Unter dem Titel “Das vernetzte Hörspiel” (PDF) habe ich seine Gedanken weitergesponnen und bin auf “10 Thesen zur Zukunft des akustischen Erzählens” gekommen. Darin stelle ich die grundsätzliche Frage, was wir Radiomacher da eigentlich tun, wenn wir Hörspiele, Features oder akustische Kunst produzieren. Ich bin der Meinung, dass wir akustische Erzähler sind. Wenn wir uns so begreifen, müssen wir uns fragen, unter welchen medialen Bedingungen wir unsere Zuhörer erreichen. Da diese Bedingungen sich gerade radikal verändern, sollten wir akustische Erzähler auf diesen Wandel kreativ reagieren. Ohne Wurzeln im Netz zu schlagen werden akustische Erzählungen keine Zukunft haben. Wie dieses vernetzte Hörspiel aussehen wird, beeinflussen wir heute durch unsere künstlerischen Entscheidungen.

Heiko Martens und ich präsentieren einige unserer Ideen am Freitag, den 8. März, um 14:55 Uhr in der Akademie der Künste unter dem Titel “Digitales Manifest”. Ob wir wirklich ein brauchbares Manifest zustande bringen, kann ich allerdings noch nicht versprechen… Am Samstag dann um 14:00 Uhr stelle ich gemeinsam mit Ingo Kottkamp, Redakteur beim Deutschlandradio Kultur, mein Feature “Pasted! Wir sind die Zukunft der Musik” vor. Für mich ist das Feature ein Beispiel für transmediales Erzählen, welches eine der möglichen Strategien sein kann, mit der sich Hörspiele und Features im vernetzten medialen Raum des Internets integrieren lassen. Wichtig ist mir auch, dass die Inhalte des Features über ein interaktives Interface in sozialen Netzwerken teilbar sind und verlinkt werden können. Dafür habe ich mit Sebastian Hilger von 7talents einen Webplayer entwickelt, der das Feature navigierbar macht und mit vielen zusätzliche Texten und Hintergrundinformationen unterfüttert. Der Webplayer funktioniert übrigens auch sehr gut auf Tablets, da er in HTML5 programmiert wurde. Online gehen wir mit der Seite www.pasted-radio.de ein paar Tage nach dem Festival in der Akademie, aber das Interface wird schon bei der Präsentation am Samstag zu sehen sein. Sobald die Seite freigeschaltet ist, werde ich hier noch einmal darauf hinweisen.

Für alle, die keine Zeit haben, meinen langen Text zu lesen – hier die Tl;dr-Kurzfassung:

Hörspiele, Features, Radiokunst, Reportagen und Lesungen sind akustisches Storytelling. Das akustische Erzählen ist die Kunst des Radios. Das Radio schafft mit der Produktion akustischer Erzählungen kulturelle Güter von bleibendem Wert, deren Währung die Aufmerksamkeit ist. Lineare Sendeschemata werden unter den Bedingungen des Medienwandels zum Feind des Zuhörens. Zeitsouveränes Zuhören kann nur online stattfinden. Das Internet ist kein programmbegleitendes Medium. Es wird zum Medium und der technischen Infrastruktur, über die Radio empfangen wird. Die Medienkonvergenz rechtfertigt daher den Rundfunkbegriff nicht mehr. Um dem sich verändernden Rezeptionsverhalten zu folgen, müssen akustische Erzählungen über das Internet verfügbar gemacht werden: on-demand, und für immer. Dafür ist ein zentrales Internet-Portal für akustische Erzählungen erforderlich. Radio wird zur Plattform, auf der Kontexte hergestellt werden und die Hörer ihr Programm selbst zusammenstellen können. Die Programmurheber müssen für ihre Inhalte angemessen vergütet werden. Das vernetzte Hörspiel ist eine Art des akustischen Erzählens, die erst noch erfunden werden muss, aber eine zeitgemäße Antwort auf den Medienwandel darstellen könnte.

Lese den ganzen Text hier!

2011-04-22 22.18.47

Baby break is over – time to revive my blog. What you can expect: some German blog posts in the near future. But no worries: I will still post the occasional english ramblings here and share field recordings. The thing is: writing in English is exhausting and time-comsuming, and it is hard to reach a level of reflection I’m happy with outside of my own linguistic homeland. And after I spend most of last years time following the debate in Germany revolving around copyright and transformative works for a feature I finished some months ago, I feel urged to put my 2 cents in German language in from time to time. So from now on, this will be a bi-lingual blog, as are my tweets and Facebook updates. If you follow silent listening through a feed reader: you can always visit this site directly and check the menus above to filter English and German content – personal news, field recordings, reflections and acoustic flotsam are as always English entries, “deutsch” stands for all the German stuff I will post and “lately / neulich” is a chronological news feed with all posts.

What has happened over the last year? Watching my little boy growing. Writing music for two radio plays. But mainly I was reading and thinking about the German copyright debate. Because the subject is so complex and it is very hard to cover all aspects of the debate without loosing substance, I focussed on one particular field of interest, namely musical mashups and remixes. Thinking about those so called transformative works, one easily arrives at questions about the origin of ideas, authorship and whether there are still any new ideas in the music world at all. Other tricky questions are touched as well: what does the digital revolution do to media, what is the role of extremely monopolistic global players like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, how is the cultural landscape shaped and changed through digitization? All this musing and reflecting led to the radio feature “Pasted! Wir sind die Zukunft der Musik” which was premiered in October 2012 on German public service broadcaster Deutschlandradio Kultur. But the work on this subject didn’t end there: I’m preparing an interactive web player for the radio feature with a lot of additional content. The website will be launched in March on a congress about the future of radio. Also upcoming are some unorthodox thoughts on the future of the “Hörspiel” (the German radio play) in the new online media landscape. Maybe it will progress into some sort of manifesto, we will see. All this will be in German and you will be learning about it here first. Also on the horizon: a new release on the netlabel Galaverna. Some of my older pieces will be digitally available through some familiar channels. And other things… Stay tuned. English and German.

In last weeks Guardian, Tom MacCarthy promotes his upcoming novel “C” with a fascinating reflection on writing, technology and melancholia. By quoting literary critic Laurence Rickels, he elucidates the idea that each technological device thought of as a prosthesis in Freudian terms embodies an absence or loss: “every point of contact between a body and its media extension marks the site of some secret burial”. McCarthy traces this notion back to Alexander Bell who lost a brother in his adolescence: “As a result of this, he made a pact with his remaining brother: if a second one of them should die, the survivor would try to invent a device capable of receiving transmissions from beyond the grave – if such transmissions turned out to exist. Then the second brother did die; and Alexander, of course, invented the telephone.” That the dead can be detectable in airwaves via wireless devices is still widespread today, as can be observed in the 3 CD-set “Okkulte Stimmen – Mediale Musik” with recordings of “unseen intelligences” 1905-2007. McCarthy takes James Joyce’s novel “Finnegans Wake” as a literary example of “a long radio-séance, with the hero tuning into voices of the dead via a radio set at his bedside, or, perhaps, inside his head.” As Joyce scholar Jane Lewty suggests, the “hero” might even be the radio set itself. McCarthy concludes, that the literary work can be comprehended “as a set of transmissions, filtered through subjects whom technology and the live word have ruptured, broken open, made receptive. I know which side I’m on: the more books I write, the more convinced I become that what we encounter in a novel is not selves, but networks; that what we hear in poems is (to use the language of communications technology) not signal but noise. The German poet Rilke had a word for it: Geräusch, the crackle of the universe, angels dancing in the static.”

Tom McCarthy is not only a writer but also an artist who occasionally sets up art projects connected to his ‘semi-fictitious organisation’ called the International Necronautical Society. In this video he talks about a broadcasting project for a Swedish art gallery:

More information about him can be achieved over his webpage “surplus matter“. Also worth reading is Zadie Smith’s comparison of the two novels “Netherland” by Joseph O’Neill and Tom McCarthy’s “Remainder” which is a stunning meditation on reality in a postmodern life that is a good read along with the much-hyped “inception” movie about dreamstates becoming reality.

Silence Radio 2.0

After a one-year-break,  Silence Radio returns with an edition of sound art in various forms ranging from documentary, fiction, electroacoustic composition, field-recording to soundscape. I contributed a track called “A Pot Calling The Kettle Black”. In the piece a strange woman (singer Almut Kühne) makes funny noises in the kitchen while she is dealing with frying eggs, drinking some mineral water, making a cup of tea and cleaning the dishes. Ambivalent kitchen sounds are mirrored in sounds from other origins and it seems as if she slips away while she is doing the kitchen work. Many of those sounds are somehow related to water and fire, therefore the title which is an old english saying about someone being hypocritical. Wikipedia provides the following definition: “The pot is sooty (being placed on a fire), while the kettle is clean and shiny (being placed on coals only), and hence when the pot accuses the kettle of being black, it is the pot’s own sooty reflection that it sees: the pot accuses the kettle of a fault that only the pot has, rather than one that they share.” I thought along these lines when working on the piece. Other sound “pastilles” were submitted by artists like Francisco López, eRikm & Eric La Casa and Alessandro Bosetti among others. Here is the complete track list:

A POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK ___ Andreas Bick
Whoever likes to play with sounds likes to play with words.

UNTITLED #242 ___ Francisco López
No title, no comment, no meaning, not only one.

LE FILTRE DE RÉALITÉ ___ eRikm & Eric La Casa
The two sonic Erics meet Jacques Brodier and his ionic instrument.

MIDI MINUIT ___ Pali Meursault
Investigation by night into a sci-fi-like contemporary soundscape.

DEAD MAN ___ Alessandro Bosetti
After all the samurai of love is a very casual person though he’s got to live his life as a dead man.

TRUE BROMANCE ___ Bérangère Maximin
Tribute to boys’ pure love by a resounding girl.

LAURENT MAÏS ___ Sebastian Dicenaire
Laurent Maïs has got a revelation of love in front of his flat screen.

BARMAZ OU BALI ___ Kaye Mortley
A rough cut daydreaming snapshot mixing Switzerland with Indonesia.

AIR CONDITIONER No.8 ___ Nick Sowers
Domestification attempt of domestic white noises.

STROMBOLI, UN VOLCAN SUR LA MER ___ Irvic D’Olivier
The power of volcanic myth is universal.

The German Akademie der Darstellenden Künste voted the WDR-production “Das Haus (House of Leaves)” the best radio play of December 2009. The jury wrote: “The three directors and composers developed an acoustic aesthetic for everything that is tempting and threatening. As long as the ear can reach it is whimpering and rumbling in an endless loop of horror. A radio play for the remote control? Yes, but not only. The experimental play reflects in one and the other way existential challenges. The listener becomes an adventurer searching for lost pieces of a central theme.”

The German adaption of the postmodern novel “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski was broadcasted in three different versions on three channels of German public radio WDR at the same time. The audience was able to switch between the narrative layers of the novel and could follow the entwined corridors and pathways to secret rooms of the house in a way that reflected the complex structure of the book.

Today German public radio WDR broadcasts three versions or layers of Mark Z. Danielewski’s postmodern novel “House of Leaves” simultaneously on three channels. A unique radio experiment that reflects the entwined structure of the book. The story is build around a mysterious “Navidson report”, grainy film footage that documents the exploration of hidden rooms in a house that obviously is bigger than it looks like…

I wrote the music and produced the sound design for the version on 1LIVE, directed by Martin Zylka, which actually covers the exploration of the rooms and corridors of the house. All three radio plays can be listened to online or even recorded with the WDR radio recorder. Instructions and additional information here (in German of course…).

Phonographic Pottery

The first podcast I heard from radiolab, a programme at New York based public radio station WNYC, was called staying alive. When it comes to the point where a scientist claims that he can play back voices from thousand years ago captured in the grooves of ancient pottery with a stylus like an old grammophone-type recording, I had to burst out laughing. This story about “paleoacoustics” is of course a hoax that looks back on a decade-long history of appearances in different pseudo-scientific papers and science-fiction novels (more about this “urban myth” on this webpage). The podcast closes with a visit at a CPR class where they deal with the problem to hit the right lifesaving rhythm. I keep the ending for myself to not spoil the episode.

The thing with all the radiolab podcasts is that they find an inspiring tone of curiousity and humour to deal with the big questions of life, death, the human experience and everything that blurs the boudaries between science and philosophy. This can turn out extremely funny like this podcast about sperm (why so many sperm?) or can get serious and reflective like in these 11 meditations on how, when and even if we die (after life). All is congenially accompanied by a superb sound design that illuminates the ideas and thoughts followed. The after life episode even inspired filmmaker Will Hoffman to produce this beautiful and uplifting video:

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