In September 2021, I ran a radio-building workshop together with artists Brigitte Hart and Lisa Hall, at Buinho Creative Hub in the rural town of Messejana, Portugal. Participants to the workshop heard a brief presentation on the physics of radio and our interest in artistic uses of the radio spectrum, and became co-investigators as we worked together to test materials and designs for radio builds.
This was the first public presentation in an ongoing research project by Shortwave Collective, of which we are a part, using feminist approaches to explore the radio spectrum. I was one of three members to take part in a week-long residency at Buinho, from which we collaborated with members internationally via daily online meetings, to share our learning and experiments and develop thinking around the project. Together, we constructed self-powered radios based on designs for crystal sets and foxhole radios, and tested them in various settings - noting their sensitivity to location, time of day and materials used. This research was detailed in a simple ‘how-to’ guide, which we distributed to participants to the workshop to test its efficacy.
By the end of the workshop, all six participants had working radios! Amongst those, participants experimented by:
Building the radio on cork bark, local to the area, and using this as a base-board - Anaïs Schendekehl
Introducing a rock at the centre of the coil, altering its usual air-core properties - Carlos Alcobia
Creating a wearable radio in the shape of a hat, for a more portable experience - Brigitte Hart
Our ‘how-to’ guide has since been published in MAKE magazine, and an audio version premiered at Radiophrenia (February 2022) with an extended version produced for Movement Radio (March 2022) later also broadcast on Colaboradio (April 2022).
We also held a radio-building workshop at Soundcamp (April 2022) and built 18 radios with children and adults. We intend to continue our experiments in radio-building through participatory workshops, and are open to invitations to deliver these in new contexts.
Buinho Creative Hub, Portugal, workshop photos:
Soundcamp, London, workshop photos: