Category Archives: Art

Smithsonian Open Access: Take a deep radio nostalgia dive!

“Radio owned by Herman and Minnie Roundtree” (Source: Smithsonian Open Access)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Balázs Kovács, who shares the following announcement:

[Check out the] Smithsonian Open Access, where you can download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking. With new platforms and tools, you have easier access to nearly 3 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections—with many more to come. This includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo.

As Balázs points out, there are hundreds of radio photos in the archive.

What a treasure trove! Since many of us are sheltering at home, it’s the perfect time to take a deep dive into the SOA archive!  Thank you for sharing!

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Tate Modern ISS installation doubles as ham radio antenna

Photo by @helenleigh

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Matthew, who shares the following tweet from Helen Leigh:

This sculpture at the Tate Modern blew my mind this week. It’s a wire sculpture inspired by the International Space Station that functions as an antenna for a ham radio.

Photo by @helenleigh

Twice a day it plays live audio and data transmissions from the ISS as it passes overhead.

Click here to view on Twitter.

Fascinating!  Goes to show that the Tate Modern is always chock-full of amazing discoveries. Thank you for sharing this, Matthew!

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500 TeraHertz border-crossing “light bridge”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who writes:

SWLing Post readers might be interested in hearing this BBC World Service radio documentary about a political tech art project that uses visible light beam voice comms across the Mexico<>U.S. border to bridge communities. There’s a website that explains how it all works. I guess ~500 TeraHertz is technically radio?

(Source: BBC World Service)

BBC World Service – In the Studio

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Border Tuner

Released On: 19 Nov 2019

Imagine huge searchlights which can be seen over a ten mile, 15 kilometer radius talking to one another across two countries. This is exactly what electronic media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is creating this November between Ciudad Juárez in Mexico and El Paso in Texas.

Called Border Tuner, the project will see enormous bridges of light connecting the US-Mexico border for the first time.

When lights from the stations (three on each side) are directed at each other and they manage to make a connection, a massive bridge of light is formed. This activates microphones and speakers allowing participants to communicate with one another across the border. The “light bridge” flickers like morse code as the participants listen and speak to one another. If they don’t like what they are hearing they can retune to a different light beam.

This is not the first time Rafael Lozano-Hemmer has used search lights in his art but he’s never done anything on this scale or with this complexity before. Born in Mexico City in 1967, he first produced a remote-controlled searchlight project in 1999 for the Zócalo Square in Mexico City. Since then he has created installations in dozens of cities around the world where the public controls the searchlights using the internet, mobile phones, megaphones or heart rate sensors.

Presented by Monica Ortiz Uribe
Produced by Emma Betteridge for the BBC World Service

Click here to listen via the BBC World Service.

Fascinating concept! Thank you for sharing, Ed!

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“Pour Reception”: An Arduino-based radio that uses glasses of water as an interface

Image source: Yanko Design

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Korchin, who shares a link to this article on Yanko Design:

We’re all used to turning a couple of knobs and pressing a few buttons to operate a radio, but have you ever played with glasses of water to change a radio channel? Probably not. Designers Tore Knudsen, Simone Okholm Hansen, and Victor Permild recently launched their art project ‘Pour Reception’. And it’s beyond anything you can imagine. Pour Reception consists of two internal speakers, an AUX input, a handy guide and two glasses that must be placed on the body of the radio. And no the glasses aren’t just to sip water from, though you could do that. The radio uses the two glasses filled with water as it’s interface!

[…]Pour water into the glasses, and the stereo starts! Transfer some water from one glass to another and you can change channels. Touch the glasses, and you can fine-tune the radio’s signal, eliminating distortion. Finally, pop a finger into the water to control the volume or to bring the radio to a halt!

This might seem like a scenario from an alternate universe, but the tech behind it is pretty common. Objects emit micro amounts of electricity, and touch tends to disrupt this and convert it into a signal. By using Tact library by NANDstudio (an open-source Arduino shield that turns any object into a touch and proximity sensor), the designers converted the radio platform, glasses, and water into different layers of a capacitive interface, allowing them to conduct minute amounts of electricity and transforming them into sensors. Utilizing a Wekinator (an interactive machine learning tool), various gestures such as touching the glass or dipping a finger into the water were mapped into commands for controlling the radio. The end result; a radio with glasses of water functioning as a “digital material interface”.[…]

Click here to see a photo gallery and read the full article at Yanko Design.

Oh now that’s a fun way to combine radio and art! Obviously, this isn’t an RF radio–it either grabs streaming content or (more likely) uses pre-recorded content on an internal storage device. Still, I think it’s a creative little project and an ideal way to play with Arduino Tact library.

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DX-Philately: Stamps of Radio Stations by Continents and Countries

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Lennart Weirell, who shares the following announcement:

DX-Philately: Stamps of Radio Stations by Continents and Countries

The 5th edition of one of the most complete listing of radio and DX related stamps is now available now used in 8 countries in 3 continents. The size of the file is about 1.1 MB and it lists about 400 radio stamps from 124 radio countries and list the stamps per continent and country with date and Michel No. and motive. You can also mark which stamp you have in your collection, unused or used and it is easy to modify with new editions. See also my posting 2016-11-29.

Those who are interested please contact me via e-mail at lennart@weirell.se.

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Maarconi Mathaai: A radio-centric teaser trailer

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Nithin George, who shares this teaser trailer of an upcoming Malaysian film called “Maarconi Mathaai“:

Click here to view on YouTube.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand the dialog in this trailer, but it certainly appears that Nithin is correct in saying that it’s a “film dedicated to all radio lovers.”

Thanks for sharing this, Nithin!

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“This Frequency” – A new EP from Madtone and Jazz’min

Many thanks to SWLing Post friend and contributor, Pete Madtone, who has just released his latest EP called, “This Frequency.”

This EP features vocalist Jazz’min and off-air audio samples of contest station P49Y from Aruba.

The EP, released this week, can be found on Madtone’s Bandcamp page:

https://madtone.bandcamp.com/

Jazz’min put up “This Frequency” the title track, up on her Soundcloud page:

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