Street Radio, oral tradition digitally spread

street radio

The public installation project Street Radio has been recently launched by Armin Medosch at the central Southampton railway station, and it’ll last till November 2008. Medosch has realized a radio network drawing on Hivenetworks technology and Alexei Blinov consultancy (Raylabs artists who contributed to countless media artworks). The network has ten public nodes, broadcasting some stories selected from the Southamptons Oral History Archive and adapted to match the site’s characteristics, where the nodes has been implemented. Street Radio uses a set of technologies that have become usable out of the scientific research “sancta sanctorum” thanks to the free software movement’s virtuous dynamics. Now they lend themselves to various DIY approaches, as this one. Every installation node is made up of a small weather resistant box (weather in this harbor city is far from being a mild one); the inside hardware/software combination is made by Hivenetworks, enabling the loop playing of audio files through FM radio waves (89.0 MHz). The boxes are supplied with a small USB charger and they can spread the audio waves up to 30 meters away, being also able to register the presence of a Bluetooth enabled mobile. Remote connections are used only for machines’ maintenance, so the devices are definitively not access points. One of the most interesting aspects is the oral tradition involvement, so often endangered in a society obsessed by the future, the newest forms of communication and the technical innovation. The Street Radio project can then be interpreted as the nth disproof of the short-sighted forecast stating that oral tradition would have been wiped out by the computer society. Today we can notice an emergent new form of orality that should be defined as a “tertiary”, in the School of Toronto tradition, that taught us to consider the electronic-era orality as a secondary one.

Vito Campanelli