Helsinki and Berlin :: Colin Black

April 2005, Helsinki, Finland + Berlin, Germany

As my travel focused mainly on the medium of radio, I would like to start by sharing some thoughts and quotes exploring radio.

The first broadcast medium; a “complex conglomerate of sound and information” (; an awareness of sound that goes beyond the strict scope of music; radio receivers as instruments; broadcasters as involuntary and unaware co-producers (or musicians); terrestrial, internet and satellite.

My first port of call was the National Broadcasting Company of Finland, YLE Radio. After winning an international award called a Prix Italia for ABC Radio, my Executive Producer said that this “would open doors'”, so I went knocking, and at the door in Finland I found Mr. Heikki Valsta, Mr. Harri Huhtamäki and Ms Pirjo Rintakoski.

Mr. Harri Huhtamäki has been producing a program called Radioateljee since 1979 which he said came from a desire to make radio that wasn’t a music program, wasn’t a documentary but presented ideas, impressions, suggestions and audio experimentation. Radioateljee programmes ask questions like, “what is this reality that thrives on sound alone?” He gave me some of his programs on CD including a program entitled ‘Jokaisella Äänellä On Varjonsa”(“Each Sound Has Its Own Shadow”) where “the listener exists only after listening” and makes links between Japanese and Finnish cultures of listening. Radioateljee is broadcast on YLE Radio 1, Fridays at 23:00. – 24:00, and Sundays at 13:0.0 – 14:00.

Through this meeting I was able to start a working relationship with YLE Radio where YLE Radio have been generous enough to assist me with part of my next major work that I am currently working on.

Also to my surprise (and possibly the personal contact helped), they informed me during the meeting that they wanted to program one of my major radiophonic/musical works “The Ears Outside My Listening Room” for broadcast in their fall this year. This was unexpected as it is a very Australian work in English and subtitles kind of don’t work with radio yet!

For the rest of the time in Helsinki I attended the Particle/Wave symposium, workshops that explored hybrid radio practices, participated in the ÄÄNIradio experimental radio project broadcast and attended PixelACHE 2005 festival. In a late rescheduling notice I received, Particle/Wave and ÄÄNlradio became part of the PixelACHE 2005 festival and not a separate event on Just before the PixelACHE 2005 as originally planned. As a result I was forced to choose between the two and chose to focus my time on Particle/Wave and attended PixelACHE 2005 when I could.

I would like to share some of the ideas, highlights and events.

Oliver Thuns presented Streaps which is a software mixer for live audio streams compatible with Flash applet. It is based on a server that receives incoming audio streams and a streaming client for sending live audio from any location where there is an internet connection. The mixer has a list of the incoming audio streams that are provided by the server. The user can choose between or combine these audio streams, each with its own volume and “panorama”. As the Streaps mixer is connected to the net, there is always the possibility for others to intervene, to send an audio stream or tamper with the “knobs”, bearing in mind that there is about a 7 second delay in the audio stream being sent.

The Streaps server is built with Pd and pdcgg – for the audio mixing engine, a server written in Python for the Flash applet on the website and the Java streaming server Jrpar. The streams are encoded in the Ogg/Vorbis format, which is an open source and license free audio codec. There is also a streaming client for windows, that you can download from the Streaps website, but you are not limited to use the Streaps client. There are several other open source Ogg/Vorbis streaming clients for Window, Linux, OSX and other Unices.”  https://streaps/org/

August Black presented what he called Userradio.  Userradio “mixes the new technologies of personal communication with old broadcast radio technology. It is a set of tools for collaborative networked audio production, where an unlimited number of individuals can mix multiple channels of audio simultaneously and together from anywhere on-line using a standard flash-capable browser. The audio output of the application is broadcast on terrestrial FM radio and the users are ideally within the broadcast diameter”. He said it was “taking the production out of the studio” and onto “the kitchen table”. With the Userradio you can upload audio in many different file formats, or a stream from the Internet into an online mixer. The only drawback, at this stage is that there are latency issues with live talk radio. More info can be found at /userradio

Lee Azzarello presented Auppix, a free operating system for “microradio” and “tactical sound” that is bootable from CD and is used for making streaming internet radio.

“Auppix is a fork of Knoppix. Knoppixis a generic “office productivity” desktop system, where as Auppix uses the same core but has applications not related to audio work removed and others that are added. There is also some special programming from the August Sound Coalition people:’

I asked Lee just how is Auppix different from Dynabolic, and DiMuDi? Lee’s reply was “Dynabolic uses a completely different core than Knoppix and consequently, Auppix. I haven’t had as much success with the hard ware detection in Dynabolic and just stopped trying to use it since Knoppix was better In my opinion.”

He said that he wasn’t a big fan of DiMuDi, “I don’t use it actively. My personal favorite Linux distribution is Debian, which DiMuDi inherits most of its work from. DiMuDi is fundamentally different than all three CD distributions in that it’s meant to be installed on a hard disk. Knoppix, Auppix and Dynabolic run directly from the CD-ROM.”

From the Auppix site you can find a link to download a hands-on guide “to assist anyone to set up a live streaming radio station under linux”. The guide is written by Radioqualia and licenced as a Creative Commons Attributive Non-Commercial Share Alike document. You can find this document at

Four Ophones installation on Suomenlinna Island by Erik Sandelin and Magnus Tortensson. Basically there were four telephone receivers each wired directly into its own big speaker, which were all in turn wired to a computer. The computer processed the sounds that were recorded by the telephone receivers, delaying and looping them, until another recorded sound was introduced.

They called it “an invitation – and an unwritten score – for a composition that lasts as long as the exhibition does. You and other visitors take part as audience, musicians, and co-composers. No one knows what will happen or how it will sound. Be prepared for everything from subtle interference etudes, to collaborative chanting and big, bad rhythm orgies.”

On Suomenlinna Island all types of words and noises were introduced by the audience. While I was there, various sounds were proffered by the audience, from the simple “hello” to train whistles and phrases/speech melodies from Steve Reich’s “Different Trains”.

There was an idea that maybe a radio station could be set up in a similar way to that of Four Ophones, where the listeners phone in and leave messages which are then broadcast at the same time that they were recorded each day until a new message replaces it in that time slot. A kind of circadian community sounding board with a multi audio/informational perspective?

While on the subject of phones it seems that from what I heard at PixelACHE (don’t quote me), is that Nokia are planning what was called a “digital broadcast hand held”.

Motorola has also recently demonstrated a new technology that will allow people to listen to their favourite internet station on their mobile phones. Called iRadio you will need a phone with enough storage space via SD flash memory cards, a PC with iRadio software to load automatically pre-recorded and pre-selected internet radio streams.

Another highlight from this trip was that ABC Radio (Australia) selected my musical/radiophanic work “Soundprints: The Greek Imprints Series” (which was coproduced by Yanna Black) as part of a small collection of works from the ABC for inclusion in the ÄÄNlradio broadcast in Helsinki. I also presented some of my work at the Particle/Wave workshop.

There was so much happening at the PixelACHE 2005 festival, Particle/Wave and ÄÄNlradio that I could go on writing for days and days. For the full list of events and happenings see . If anyone has any questions that I might be able to help them with, please feel free to email me [email protected]

From the PixelACHE 2005 festival I attended a number of VJ Culture and Audiovisual Performances and Workshops.

Some of the performances I attended included;
“Perm 36 Robovision” by The Pointless Creations
“RESPAM – Inbox Performance” by Alex Dragulescu and Timothy Jaeger
“A Day On Earth – What Time Is It?” by VJ Mademoiselle, VJ Pillow, Christelle Franca and Patrick Watson.
“PixeITANGO demo” by Ben Bogart
“IIS:006” by RYBN / EOL
“Interactive and Participatory Cinema screening” plus more!

Next I travelled to Berlin where I was invited to give a workshop about my work “The Ears Outside My Listening Rnorn” at the Technische Universität Berlin. I was surprised by the strong reaction to the line in my work, where an Australian religious scholar says, “I love Jesus a much as I love Mohammad”. Apart from this incredulous reaction there were many questions and the conversations continued from the University to the bar afterwards. They gave me a number of CDs containing works from the Technische Universität Berlin, which I’ve found to be fascinating listening.

As my work had previously been broadcast on Deutschland Radio, while I was there I made contact with producers from Deutschland Radio and discussed the possibilities for future works and further broadcasts.

These meetings really got me thinking about how I approach my work and how artists generally have a higher status in European cultures. When you say you work in arts, in Europe, they don’t generally say “yeah, but what is your real job”, as I have found happens in Australia. The response is generally more like “you must have studied for a long time to become an artist” and the attitude is that an artist is a skilled and educated person with a perspective on life that is of interest to the non artist.

Through Deutschland Radio I was introduced to the Prix Ars Acustica award winning sound artist Andreas Bick. Once again we spoke for hours, discussing arts, how we both approach our work and sharing information.

While in Berlin I went to Bernhard Leitner’s “Tonkuppel/Tonstrahlen” installation in the Parochial church, Klosterstraße, Mitte. I thought this was a fascinating exploration of directional sound projections and sound resonation and resonance.

Lastly I meet with Andreas Hagelüken of RBB -Internationale Radiokunst, and after further stimulating conversation he ask me If he could play my work “The Ears Outside My Listening Room” In his “Radio Lounge” project in June 2005.

By the end of my trip I had met so many fascinating people, talked and thought about so many fascinating ideas, that I thought my brain was going to explode!

PixelACHE Festival Director Juha Huuskonen has described the Word  PixelACHE as “an overload of digital media, like having a bellyache”.

And on the plane hack to Australia I had a PixelACHE, SonicACHE, RadioACHE, AcousticartsACHE, CreativeACHE, ConversationalACHE, and GeneralartsACHE!

I thank ANAT deeply for all the aching I felt. All this aching to work as an Australian artist, all this aching to extend and shed my old skin and evolve into something more …

Thanks and Acknowledgements:
PixelACHE Festival Director Juha Huuskonen and PixelACHE participants and crew.
YLE Radio’s Mr. Heikki Valsta, Mr. Harri Huhtamäki and Ms Pirjo Rintakoski
Particle/Wave and ÄÄNlradio’s participants and organisers Sopia Lerner, Jodi Rose & Kate Sieper
Technische Universität Berlin workshop organisers and participants.
Deutschland Radio
Andreas Bick
RBB-Internationale Radiokunst’s Andreas Hagelüken
And all the stimulating conversations and philosophically debates with everyone that I met from all corners of the world during this trip.

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