Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Black Brain Radio: Manic Online Preacher?

Lurking somewhere just before Radio One on the dial there's been this utterly bizarre "pirate" broadcast moaning away for the past few days. I picked it up in UCD and someone else I know managed to pick it up in location as far flung as Maynooth.

It consists solely of this bloke in a mild Dublin accent, possibly tinged with the drawl of an upbringing in the environs of the leafy southside talking in a monologue for hours on end. One moment it sounds like he's reading from Wikipedia and following the embedded links within it as he disembarks from one topic to another.

At other times it sounds like he's reading Amnesty International reports. So far he's been going on about Dante's Inferno, Mugabe shutting down opposition radio stations, Aristotle, the levels of radioactive contamination in the general population and the immune system. All day I found myself asking myself "what the hell is this?" Has some lone bloke picked up a radio transmitter off the net for cheap and set himself to work? Its the radioactive equivalent of a street ranter with no given specialty, and the oddest thing of all is you can hear Ray Darcy's show in the background...

There was some comfort in the whimsical thought that this was a lone nut, drowning his thirst with tea, his only company the inanity of Ray D'Arcy's perky morning advice on love, walled in inside his house, a box in the suburbs - lashing out against the infotainment machine and waiting for Babylon to come crashing down around him. Turns out it was just the latest public art series from IMMA and Garrett Phelan, a transmitted sound installation which some how tries to close the gap between the visual arts and audio in an investigation of how ideas spread in society. What toss - since when does the title of "art" justify such a tedious lack of cop on?

If IMMA and the Irish art establishment want to investigate the spreading of ideas in society, and have the capacity to give someone access to a transmitter powerful enough to hog a frequency all over county Dublin, the least they could do is turn it over to an open public access project.

What THEY say: "Black Brain Radio is an unconventional and innovative radio artwork created by Irish artist Garrett Phelan with Temple Bar Gallery and Studios and in partnership with the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA). The transmission will be broadcast around the clock over a thirty-day period from 19 January 2006 to listeners within the greater County Dublin area on a frequency of 89.9fm. In addition, Black Brain Radio will have the capacity to reach a wide international audience through its dedicated on-line presence."

What The COMMENTARIAT of Indymedia say: "Recognition? What does this mean precisely? Does it mean that he can exhibit meaningless scrawls on the windows of the Civic Offices while other people are prosecuted for painting political slogans on walls, and posters advertising public meetings are torn down? He can set up a "safe" pirate radio station, or do some obscure collaboration with the free state army that amounts to a tape of the same bit of morse code being repeated over and over again in a darkened gallery?"

And now for two tech (no) ical points: there has been an array of problems with blogger lately, which have been preventing me accessing this thing even from a reading point of view, never mind posting. Worst part is no radge seems ta hav nae answers. Meanwhile over on the good ship Old Rottenhat, the good captain Krossphader has delivered a Nietzschean parody of the demise of techno in Dublin after the closue of D1's weekly club.

Related: 1 and 2 (now if only our own techno fiend Cogsy would get his blogging ass in gear a little more often!)

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you know it sounds like you engaged with it and liked it before you knew it was "art" . Ask yourself why now when you know what it is do you hate it, it hasn't changed your perception of it has.
Actually - if you look at what I was saying my appreciation and engagement with the project came from the idea that there was a possiblity that the station was a one man operation, someone lost in the suburbs blaring away against the infotainment industry, waiting for the walls of Babylon to fall in on him. For someone interested in radical media, the event of some loner gaining access to a county wide transmitter and making use of it opens up the radical possibility of others doing the same. That idea becomes far, far less interesting when it becomes clear that what is happening is some bloke from the Dublin art world, with the full support of its institutions and wealth is engaged in some sort of on line/on air audio installation seeking to examine how ideas spread in society.

That is not very entertaining as an audio piece, neither is it in anyway enlightening as a project seeking to explore the transmission of ideas in society. Radio Alice, ( 1 ), ( 2 ) in Bologna '77 strikes me as an interesting experiement in the transmission of ideas, and the use of pirate radio as a tool of expression for the oppressed or even its role as an outlet where sub-cultural music scenes can organise and coelsce such as hardcore and jungle in early 1990's London ( 1 ) (see Energy Flash - Simon Reynolds)

Aside from the sheer waste of tax payers money - its lazy intellectualism and worse again lazy art...
Sounded like it twisted your nozzle, seriously. That's the thing your missing. It made it's point well. I don't think it was something you were supposed to like or agree with. That's what you have to look at and your abviously missing! I really thought this was a brilliant thing, I didn't LIKE it the the things that I didn't like made it great. I still remember it, I haven't heard or seen anything like it since or before. Of course its not original and I am sure he wouldn't claim it to be. But he pushed things that little bit further. He pushed you further. He used a system cleverly to represent himself. In ways that other artists would never do. It would be easy to do it on a pirate level. There is something more subversive and committed about it by the way he has managed to realise his ideas using the systems that are there. Why look back to the 70's, to educate yourself? zzzzzzzzz, are you trying to say it's been done before, I suspect you spent a short time on google trying to find out something to support your arguments. It hasn't, it's of it's time and pertinent to now. Your critisms bitch about it being a waste of tax payers money, but it's a crap arguement.It was inspirational that he used public funds and established a superb presence given and considering the amount of crap that's out there in the everyday world that tax payers pay for. If you think tax payers money is being spent badly check out where your TV licence money is going and who that is supporting, or why you can't get a bed in a hospital etc etc etc! Maybe that was his point duhhhh! And possibly one of the very many clever ones in the project that you missed. You sound like a very very conservative person so try and think beyond your small world of your blog page, yeah! Not so manic really more muppic!
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