Take It to the Air: radio as public art

The radio spectrum, regulated in the US since 1927 for the “public interest, convenience, and necessity,” has long been viewed by artists as an unrealized, utopian public space. Today, many artists use FM radio, wireless, and the electromagnetic spectrum to make work usually described as electronic or new media art. However, there is often a public and politicized quality to this work: artistic (mis)use of the radio spectrum may activate a public around secret listening, detourne and rebroadcast the normal content of the airwaves, or “drown out” corporate broadcasts in a highly local area. This paper discusses several recent projects to argue that artwork in the “electomagnetic commons” complements field of public art in important ways

Kanouse, Sarah, “Take it to the air: radio as public art,” Art Journal 70(3): 86-99.

Download pdf: Take It to the Air

Cover image: Ligna, “Radio Ballet,” 2003