Interview with Jeff Kolar from Radius
Lumpen Radio has been broadcasting monthly episodes of Radius since our initial launch last spring. This Friday November 20th sees WLPN 105.5 FM and Radius collaborating on a live broadcast episode of Radius from our studios in the Co-Prosperity Sphere, so if seemed like a great time to check in with Jeff Kolar the founder of Radius and figure out what we have been listening to these last few months and a little more about Radius.
When did Radius start?
Radius was founded in 2010 by Jeff Kolar, and in 2011 Meredith Kooi joined as editor. The project was initiated when Chicago-based artist and organizer Marc Fischer loaned us the Audio Relay Unit, a mobile Low Power FM radio project developed in 2002 by Temporary Services and Intermod Series.
Radius’ first broadcast was on January 25, 2011 at 8pm CST. The broadcast featured Episode 01: Michael Woody “Numbers Stations”, which comprises brief messages that state what you should and shouldn’t do if attacked by a bear, and was broadcast for the entire duration of the 2011 State of the Union Address. Since that initial broadcast, Radius has continued to host a new artist every month, and has executed more than 600 individual radio broadcasts by over 100 artists from 20 different countries.
What does Radius do?
Radius is an experimental radio broadcast platform that produces, exhibits, and distributes work by radio and transmission artists from around the world. We feature a new project each month with statements by artists who use radio as a primary element in their work. Over the years since Radius’ first broadcast in 2011, it has formed ongoing re-broadcast partnerships with radio stations around the world; curated radio programs; presented in art exhibitions; built a library; published books, held live concerts, installations, and film screenings, group workshops, and artists talks; and much more.
Radius provides artists with live and experimental formats in radio programming. Our goal is to support work that engages the tonal and public spaces of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Can you explain how you pick the work you feature on Radius?
Most of the work we feature is culled from open submissions which we accept on an ongoing basis. We are interested in hosting work that we feel wouldn’t be otherwise and/or work that critically engages radio and the electromagnetic spectrum materially and conceptually. We also commission specific artists for our biannual themed series (i.e. RANGE (2012) & GRIDS (2014)). For those works, we identity artists whose practice relates in some way to the theme and work with them to realize their project. These are often site-specific and/or occur in non-traditional locations. One of our goals is to re-imagine radio as a more mobile medium, so we often encourage artists to break out of studio and gallery contexts.
If I’m just getting into audio art/performance/production what are some pieces I should check out? Radius related or wider scope.
Radius’ Episode Discography is a great place to start. We’ve hosted a diverse range of Radio and Transmission Art encompassing aesthetic, conceptual, and material uses of the medium. We have ~44 hours of audio to listen to!
To name a few…
Artists: Negativland, Tetsuo Kogawa, Anna Friz, Merzbow, Throbbing Gristle, Antonin Artaud, Magz Hall
What is next for Radius?
Coming up soon is Radius Episode 68: N.N.N. Cook Tilde—Cast (Dowsing) which will be performed, broadcast, and recorded LIVE at Co-Prosperity Sphere in partnership with Lumpen Radio WLPN 105.5-FM on Friday November 20, 2015 at 8pm CST.
For 2016, we are planning a new series called GROUND, which will be a two-part, site-specific commissioned radio series that focuses on radio’s direct physical connection to the Earth.
Very exciting, Jeff I also wanted to ask you a few personal questions. When did you start producing/performing audio?
I started experimenting with audio as an artistic medium in 2005. I spent about five years searching around trying to figure out what exactly I was interested in. During this time, I was primarily using computers and software. Then in 2007, I met Anthony Ptak, a NYC-based experimental musician and instrument builder, who introduced me to the theremin. After that, I quickly powered down my computer and started making radio. Since moving back to Chicago in 2010, my work has focused building hand-made, analog electronic instruments for installation, performance, and distribution online / IRL.
Can you tell us about any memorable performances or DJ?
I’ve had the pleasure of touring around the world the past few years, all of which were unique experiences for different reasons. However the most memorable was probably performing at The Kitchen in Chelsea, New York City with choreographer Jennifer Monson because of the venue’s historical significance in my field. I also performed inside a cave at a nightclub in Ljubljana, Slovenia last winter. That was very special and weird.
What is your favorite piece of gear?
Anything analog! The dirtier, the better. I like to listen to the inner workings of electricity – micro to macro, brainwaves to outer space. I’m most interested in instruments designed and fabricated by other artists, which are often unique and made by hand with care. Recently, I’ve been been obsessed with organs and telephone answering machines.
Besides audio what is your secret food, beverage or other craving?
You are stuck on a desert island what five records would you want with you?
Dang! This changes day to day, but at the moment:
Four Tet – Rounds
Nirvana – Unplugged in New York
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Oval – 94diskont
Boom Bip & Doseone – Circle
Radius Patch on Lumpen Radio: http://www.lumpenradio.com/