Take It to the Air: Radio as Public Art


Radio Ballet Leipzig (2003), part one

Radio Ballet Leipzig (2003), part two

First staged in the main railroad station in Hamburg in 2002, the Leipzig version of Radio Ballet was performed the following year. Subtitled “Übung in nichtbestimmungsgemäßem Verweilen,” or “Exercise in Lingering Not According to the Rules,” the piece gathered people in the Leipzig station for a group radio listening experience. Using handheld radios, people listened to LIGNA’s critique of the normative ordering of public space and performed, en masse, choreography that challenged the regulation of behavior in these environments. Video documentation provided by LIGNA.

Radio Ballet I Am[not]sterdam: 10 Exercises to get the City out of your Body (2006)

This version of Radio Ballet was developed for Amsterdam’s Leidsestraat and sponsored by the cultural center De Balie. The radio broadcast playfully prompts participants to note the social, architectural and sensual qualities of their surroundings while reflecting on the commercialization and branding of the city and its public spaces. Video documentation and English translation provided by De Balie Amsterdam.

Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

The Public Broadcast Cart (2003)

Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga’s Public Broadcast Cart is a mobile soapbox for amplified public speechmaking, radio transmission, and streaming Internet audio. Designed to visually echo the carts used by flower merchants, the project moves through urban environments, inviting passers-by to become listeners and listeners to become speakers in a many-to-many broadcast model. This video explains the relatively simple technology behind the project and documents the cart in action in New York City and Linz. Video provided by Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga.

Jon Brumit

Bringing Down the Neighborhood (aka Bad Neighbors, 2006)


Pioneers (2007)


These pieces represent two iterations of Brumit’s “Talking Homes” project, which repurposed transmitters designed for realtors to market houses. Rather than present a consumer fantasy of private space, however, Brumit’s transmitters made public other aspects of people’s private lives.

In Bringing Down the Neighborhood, Brumit invited people to tell true stories of enduring—or being—a bad neighbor. These quirky, sometimes artless, and often funny stories were then broadcast on-site. Guided by an approximate map, the audience fanned out through the city to listen to the broadcasts, locate the transmitters, and vote for their favorite bad neighbor stories. In this track, the narrator recounts a neighborly horror story with a self-implicating ending. Audio provided by Jon Brumit.

Pioneers took a more serious approach. Brumit did informal interviews with ordinary Detroit residents whose activities somehow intersect with the cultural, economic, and environmental reclamation of their city. During the 2007 Shrinking Cities exhibition, this audio was broadcast on a loop from their homes and businesses. This clip features urban farmer John Gruchala. Audio provided by Jon Brumit.