To :
- re-cover - ecology of data-flow environment and electromagnetic spectrum
- re-approach - net.radio
- re-combine - wired and wireless, old and new, global and insular technologies
- re-connect - audio communication networks


Acoustic.Space.Re-search.Lab aims to re-approach collaborative audio communication tools, to broaden the meaning of "net.radio" - beyond the confusion of streaming media standards and its' technical limitations, and to set up new context for research on "data-ecology" and co-experiments in the field of networked media, radio and satellite technologies.


Acoustic.Space.Re-search.Lab is long-term co-operation between several international artists' groups and individuals from the Xchange network: RIXC/E-LAB (Riga/LV), Derek Holzer (Amsterdam/NL/USA), RadioQualia? (London/UK/Adelaide/AU), Projekt Atol (Ljubljana/SI) and L'audible (Sydney/AU).

The pilot project - Acoustic Space Lab symposium took place from August 4 - 12, 2001 in the forests of western Latvia in Irbene at the site of Soviet-era d=32 meter dish antenna. Formerly used to spy on satellite transmissions between Europe and North-America by the KGB, the antenna was abandoned and nearly destroyed when the Russian Army departed in 1994. The dish was successfully repaired by VIRAC (Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Center) radio astronomers.
Over the days of the symposium international team of 30 sound artists, net and community radio activists and radio amateurs in co-operation with VIRAC scientists were exploring the possibilities of antenna. The participants made recordings of the sounds and data from planets' observations, communication satellites and surrounding environment.

It was a great chance for artists to access and work with this big antenna. But most important was that this "old and heavy" technology - big dish - because of its' secret past, specific location in so far remote place, and its' never unexploited potential for civilian use, succeeded to facilitate new context for collaborative exploring, experimenting and data processing.

Context :

In our daily life, we are literally awash in a shifting tide of signals, frequencies and codes. Our eyes and ears can receive some small part of these, and pass them along to our brains for interpretation. But what of the rest--those signals, which reach us, and even pass through our very bodies, on a level which the flesh is not sensitive enough to detect unaided?

The development of communications technology, and its expansion into the realm of electromagnetic transmission through the atmosphere has been closely linked to explorations of our natural environment from the beginning. The first telegraph operators reported hearing "strange, otherworldly" noises coming through the wires. The forefathers of today's SETI movement enthusiastically embraced these sounds as messages from another planet, and it took another half-century to determine that lightning strikes and solar winds were singing these ionospheric songs, and not extraterrestrial beings.

To this day, scientists, radio amateurs and artists all seek to find patterns and meanings in the electromagnetic disturbances that surround us. Their tools may be quite modern, such as a Soviet-era dish antenna in a Baltic forest, or they may have changed little from the first heady days of radio innovation, taking the shape of simple, home-built kits or household long-wave receivers connected to wires strung between trees and rooftops.

One thing is certain - the topography of the realm they explore has changed dramatically. Almost the entirety of the radio range of the electromagnetic spectrum has been "reserved" for some purpose or another, whether it be for mobile phone, satellite, and other digital wireless applications, or for radio and tv.

With such a rising "noise floor", the by-far-weaker natural radio signals become lost in man-made bleeps, bytes, pulses, packets and streams.

Daring radio acoustonauts of the new era now face a challenging decision; to find a clear channel through the communications-age clutter to investigate the ancient world of nature and the stars, or to plunge into the raw data rippling through the air in front of them, and find a new world therein.

Content and development :

Next stage of Acoustic.Space.Re-search.Lab is devoted to developing of research and experimental audio communication projects that promotes tactical use and prospective interventions. Re-search.Lab will continue organising of workshops, which provide access to publicly not accessible technologies, i.e. to former (and existing) top secret military objects (e.g. VIRAC radio telescope). It also will co-operate with scientists, radio amateurs and radio astronomers in researching "data-ecology" and other relevant issues related to urbanism, atmosphere and wireless technologies. The Lab will also co-develop other related projects, e.g., which are using new satellite networks and GPS, in order to claim for public interaction and two-way communication in emerging "cell-space".

- Pilot project : Acoustic.Space.Lab - international symposium on sound art, radio and satellite technologies took place in VIRAC Radiotelescope, Irbene/Latvia, August 2001.
http://ozone.re-lab.net/sessions/12aug01aslab.ram(closing presentations)[realmedia]

- Feedback : The remote contribution by Kunstradio

- Post-production : Space Lab Open Source Sampling project (ongoing/online - coordin. by Derek Holzer)

- Radiophere (CD by Claustrum/Latvia)

- Horizon Scan (video by Locomotive/Latvia)

- Signal-Sever! (performance by Projekt Atol/Slovenia & crew, featuring Zina K./Australia and Clausthome/Latvia, "Art+Communication" festival, September 2001 in Riga)

- Radioqualia audio-reports:
http://www.radioqualia.net/kunst.ram[realmedia] http://www.radioqualia.net/documentation/spacelab/

- Mr. Snow/L'audible : Firmament
A 3D Java application to visualize the radio frequency scans collected by the Irbene dish antenna

- Research : Acoustic.Space.Lab II (summer 2002)
a workshop for preparing materials on "Irbene radiotelescope - from Russian top secret object to sound artists' symposium" (for World-Information.org project)

- Book "Acoustic Space Reader" + CD-ROM
an edition on theory, experiments and art practice of using audio communication tools, in context of electromagnetic spectrum - from non- to audible frequencies, i.e. radio waves to streaming media, from electricity and lights to acoustic and gravity, as well as with satellite and GPS technologies.

- Follow-up projects/action plan at VIRAC Radio telescope (2002-2004) : setting up of permanent satellite based internet connection in VIRAC Radiotelescope (to be able to have the LINK to the dish from remote places - in order to use it for events, performances and exhibitions)

Establishing the streaming facility (to stream events and discussions, and share the research results with other radio astronomical communities) and to utilise the streaming facility to set up LIVE STREAM from astronomical observations (an attempt to make audible the sounds of planets and nearby stars) development of SOFTWARE that controls the movement of the dish via internet (for online users and remote observation)

Related art projects

Acoustic.Space.Re-search.Lab also intends to establish connections, to collaborate and develop projects in urban and public spaces, electric-acoustic environments, as well as in emerging cell-space:

a performance on light and noize spectrum - live video mix by F5 and Clausthome/Latvia (sound)

GPSter - Geograffiti
is "an urban memory and digital ambience machine for the geosphere", co-project by Marc Tuters and Karlis Kalnins (Canada). GPSter interface allows you to leave your data in real space; leave text, images, audio, video, and websites, for anyone to find, at any coordinates in the geosphere.

OZONE : an immersive electromagnetic environment
a collaborative environmental installation created by video artist Bas van Koolwijk/The Netherlands and sound artist Derek Holzer/NL-USA. The installation involves the use of 3 video monitors, 3 Long Wave radios, and a 4 channel audio system to create storm-cloud of electromagnetics in the exhibition space.

RIXC Media Space : <insulation>
Media Space is long-term site specific collaborative platform, which explores experimental use of acoustics, light and power in architecture of both - urban spaces and virtual environments. It is based on RIXC ongoing project "Media Space" - RIXC future physical location in Riga, which during its' renovation process (2002-2004) will be used as a creative (plat)form for collaborative experiments and art production. All it's building phases will be cross-linked and related to various interdisciplinary and experimental projects.

Phase "insulation" involves various local and international such as Luke Jerram (Bristol/UK), Martins Ratniks (F5/Latvia) and others, who will explore the acoustic and perceptual properties of the space and urban surrounding, and will contribute in developing site specific and time based series of installation prototypes and performances.

Communication & publications :

XCHANGE mailinglist


Initiators & coordinators :

Acoustic.Space.Re-search.Lab team is partnership of:
RIXC/E-LAB, Riga/Latvia
Projekt ATOL, Ljubljana/Slovenia
L'Audible, Sydney/Australia
RadioQualia?, Adelaide/Australia & London/UK
Derek Holzer, Amsterdam/The Netherlands

Contact :

media artists Rasa Smite <rasa at re-lab.net> and Raitis Smits <raitis at re-lab.net> RIXC/E-LAB/Riga, Latvia, and sound artist Derek Holzer <derek at x-i.nu> Amsterdam, The Netherlands.