Shortwave Collective is an international, feminist artist group established in May 2020, interested in creative uses of radio. We meet regularly to discuss feminist approaches to amateur radio and the radio spectrum as artistic material, sharing resources, considering DIY approaches and inclusive structures.
In 2021, we began to construct 'Open Wave-Receivers' - our feminist re-interpretation of foxhole radio designs. Our re-naming of this device has multiple connotations and shows how we want to think and engage with these simple circuits differently. It is a design that doesn’t have a tuner so multiple frequencies can be received at once. It is adaptable and forgiving: parts can be switched out for alternatives, pieces can be sculptural, and it can be literally built into a location. Our research and experiments are to be shared, to be further experimented by and with others, to be in-process: we often make Open Wave-Receivers with others and test them out giddily, listening together as a social practice.
During workshops participants are engaged as co-researchers and experimenters, constructing these very simple radios with a basic set of materials: copper wire, metal clips, speaker wire, tent pegs, and chosen or found objects. Shortwave Collective members support participants to test their radios and demonstrate our listening practices - a convivial collective experience of searching for signals.
Our first workshop took place in September 2021 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. 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) and Melodic Distraction (March 2023).
We have since held workshop at Soundcamp (April 2022), Crosby Library, Liverpool (September 2022), Wysing Arts Centre (September 2022), Piksel Festival, Norway (November 2022), with Bradford Sound Women (March 2023), at London College of Communication (March 2023) and Open Hardware, New York (April 2023). 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:
We are Libraries, Waterloo, Liverpool, workshop photos: