Media-Archaeological Studies of the Radio Studio Considered as a Laboratory

Prof. Dr. Ute Holl
Department of Media Studies, University of Basel

Tobias Gerber (PhD Project): Engineering Sound – Labore des Radiophonen in den 1920er und 30er Jahren (SP A2)

Tatiana Eichenberger (PhD Project): Experimental Sound Laboratories of the Radio. Electronic Studios at Broadcasting Corporations in Europe after World War II (SP A3)

The prehistory of radiophonics is a hybrid one. The superstructure of radio studios in their universal and standardized versions can obstruct the view on their actual genealogy in systems of tinkered, material, contingent and imperfect alignments of devices. What is normally conceived of as a radio studio stems from the tradition of many disciplines, different formations of knowledge, notation and recordings as well as concepts of auditory perception, which were developed in inventive and often inconsistently constructed laboratory cultures. Subproject A will pursue the genealogy of instruments and configurations of apparati used during experiments and tests of auditory perception, as well as practices developed in the course of experimenting. This genealogy extends from psychophysical laboratories of the 19th century to early radio studios before the WW II, to studios after 1945, based on tape and developing stereo and dummy-head recordings in the 1960s, eventually exploring devices and practises of digital radio studios today. In this history radiophonic art and composition is shaped. The aim of the subproject is to discover the media archaeology of interfaces between radio technology and human senses as well as strategies of relating to sonic environments. The goal of the project is to infer “as we may hear” in future media constellations.