Expanded Listening can mean the exploration of the limits of human sensory perception, and it can mean paying attention to silence and silencing, to untold or forgotten stories, perspectives and knowledges that fall out of dominant modes of historicising. And yet it can also mean expanding perspectives by considering listening from a more-than-human position. In this way, more-than-human bodies and matter are recognised as receptive and responsive.
Expanding Radio defines radio not simply as a form of broadcast and communications technology, but as an elemental and geological media that functions across species and scales. This includes large and small non-anthropogenic signals, such as the natural radio caused by lightning strikes, solar winds, the auroras and meteors, and also smaller transmissions like natural radioactivity, or the frequencies made by bees’ vibration pollination tactics, and even photosynthesis, which occurs when molecular antennae in plants respond to the sun’s radiation. I include magnetoreception and biomagnetism within this expanded framework – many migratory species use biogenic magnetite crystals as a navigational technique by sensing the Earth’s geomagnetic sphere. These are just some examples for thinking through the materiality and scale of more-than-human transmission and reception.
More-than-human Radio Ecologies is a project that brings these two concepts together whilst simultaneously situating itself within three fields: academically within critical discourses of the anthropocene, aiming to move constructively beyond it; politically within the act of listening, as a tool for ecological awareness, resistance, sustainability and care; and artistically, culturally and sensorially within practices of radio (art), which generate sites for trans‐scalar awareness, and physical‐auditory‐aesthetic experience. This project recognises the value of different modes of knowledge production and therefore combines academic and artistic practices, whilst explicitly using radio (art) as a research method.
Kate Donovan is a practicing radio artist, facilitator and researcher based in Berlin. Her artistic practice deals with radio in an elemental sense, in terms of frequency, transmission and interconnectedness (but also disruption and interference). Her editorial and organisational work in free and community radio fosters inclusion and experimentation.
She studied Fine Art: Time Based Media (BA hons) at the Hull School of Art, UK, and Anglophone Modernities in Literature and Culture (MA) at the University of Potsdam, with a thesis titled “Expanding Radio. Ecological thinking and trans-scalar encounters in contemporary radio art practice’.
Recent and current projects include: Datscha Radio 17, a garden radio art festival on the future of the garden in the Anthropocene; ‘The Bespoke Headpiece’, a speculative telling of radio history which was developed during a transmission arts residency at Wave Farm in 2018; and the ongoing radio show ‘elements’, which broadcasts monthly via CoLaboRadio, on FM in Berlin and Potsdam, and online.