Making Contact - Amatørradio i kunsten

Den kanadiske kunstneren og radioamatøren LA/VE2SXN Erin Sexton bruker radio i sine kunstinstallasjoner.

Erin er masterstudent i Bergen og i forbindelse med en ustilling på Galleri Bokboden vil hun være aktiv på 40 og 80 meter fra fredag 17. februar fra 1800-2000 UTC samt lørdag 18. februar og søndag 19. februar fra 1100-1500 UTC. Hun oppdaterer sin side på med bilder og frekvensene de bruker.

Teksten nedenfor er hentet fra hennes artikkel i Amatørradio nr. 1-2017.

I am a Canadian radio amateur and artist currently in Bergen for my Master's studies. The Bergen Kringkaster (LA1ASK) and Bergensgruppen (LA1B) radio clubs have been very helpful and welcoming.

My grandfather was an amateur radio operator, so I grew up listening to his scanners and shortwave radios, dreaming about space, and experiencing the physicality of communications before the Internet took over. His explanation of radio wave propagation inspired me, signals bouncing around the globe, reflecting off the ionosphere and travelling much further by night.

I took a course with the Montreal Amateur Radio Club and received my license in 2015. The process was challenging, but my previous experience building simple audio electronics helped in understanding the theory. I have been working with oscillators, amplifiers, contact mics, and feedback systems in my art for some time, using sound to explore the resonance of different materials. Learning about radio transmission has opened up new possibilities for my art practice that I am now investigating.

Radio noise fascinates me, as it contains the entire history of our universe. Buried under our own Earthly signals, in the static, are the radio emissions of distant, ancient stars. Many are already dead, but our radio telescopes look back in time to see their ghosts, along with the early universe before the stars formed, the cosmic microwave background.

Our own signals are complex and interesting. I can spend hours just listening and tuning through the different bands, getting lost in the interference, exploring the way each mode modulates signals, frequencies shifting up and down. When our transmissions slip through the ionosphere, they radiate outwards at the speed of light, inscribing our own history into space-time.

In my artwork, I try to bring the expansive and poetic dimensions of radio into contact with everyday materials. Beginning with the ropes, tarpaulin, and knots needed for improvised outdoor radio stations, I trace different forms through space, install antennas, and make sculptures.

For Hyperdimensional Variations I, I made a three-dimensional rope hypercube with an antenna folded within. Live radio noise was received by the structure, activating the forth dimensional element of time. Foam panels covered the floor and other surfaces for the viewers to sit on, and knots were scattered around the gallery.

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When I think about the scale of the cosmos, I cannot help but reflect on our smallness within it, and the limited resources available on our planet. In this time of global warming, economic instability, and socio-political crisis, I feel that amateur radio is extremely important. If power grids fail or cellphone networks become overloaded, we are able to set up low power communications networks and assist with emergency communications.

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Never Say Die is the title of a survival manual and also the work I did for the first year Master's exhibition. I practiced my knot tying skills, set up a tarpaulin shelter, installed my 40m dipole with a small receiver, and made a series of fragile sculptures. Crystals are essential to radio technology, as is the sea for radio wave propagation. Boiling down local seawater, I experimented with the crystallization of salt on string, deflated balloons, and other materials.

From this February 17 - 19, I will have an exhibition at Galleri Bokboden in the centre of Bergen. Titled 'Contact', I will continue to explore the relationship between radio noise and materials, installing my station, tarpaulin / rope structures, and crystallized sculptures in the space. I would also like to practice my operating skills, have conversations over the airwaves, and share the experience of radio transmission with other artists and the public. If you would like to make a QSO or join the discussion, please listen for us on the 40m and 80m bands on Friday 17 from 18 - 20 UTC and Saturday 18 / Sunday 19 from 11 - 15 UTC. I will also update my qrz. com page with images and the frequencies we are using. 

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