Radio, Techno, Fossil
At 0.2 Hz scientists in the Finnish arctic listen for Very Low Frequencies that index industrial, military and cosmic activity. At 2.4 GHz activists prototype Wi-Fi kits for use in European refugee camps and by sea rescue vessels. At 30 GHz the radio relays of financial traders amass at the French port of Calais. This is a politics of frequencies. A parallel wireless world, on which our contemporary moment is contingent. (Dyer 2018)
Eline Benjaminsen and Sophie Dyer have taught themselves to read the infrastructural traces of the the electromagnetic commons and un-commons.
Their work documents the physical landscapes of immaterial markets, collectives or assemblages of scientific knowledge; the skill of the traders, source codes, algorithms, economists and hardware, the traces of witnessing events of transperception: “a poetic disjuncture of immanent distances and large powers”, radio fossils, shimmering electromagnetic stories of zero time, rain fade, earth bulge and backscatter (Dyer 2017).
The dedicated exploration of Benjaminsen and Dyer is a move towards a mediation of frequencies, reminiscent of early explorers. It echoes the work Roger Payne and Douglas Web, whose research on fin whales theorised that there could be enormous distances, thousands of kilometres, between different herds, and that the acoustical properties of the ocean, allowed the fin whales to signify to each other that “there is a fin whale here” (Payne and Webb 1971). As Douglas Kahn points out in Earth Sound, Earth Signal “the whale sound could be understood in at least two ways : there is a fin whale (maybe more) here or somewhere in an existential sense, or there is fin whale or more here at a distance you can surmise in the sound you hear”. Perhaps in the case of Benjaminsen and Dyer’s work one could say ‘there is a radio fossil here’.
Radio, Techno, Fossil tells the story of a radio-image as it traverses the bounds of the Earth’s surfaces, atmospheres and techno-geographies. The publication tunes into our highly textured and complex radio environment by subjecting itself to the unpredictability, seasonality, solar circles of the ionosphere and the current location of the reader. The publication embeds itself by using real time ionospheric measurements to determine how much publication and how much environment arrives.
Eline Benjaminsen (NO) is a video artist and photographer who’s work explores the visuality of socio-economic processes. By focusing on the strictly physical – that which can be photographed, her work offers a social realist approach in dealing with the relation between the material and the immaterial. Her projects have appeared in a variety of platforms including Nederlandse Fotomuseum (Rotterdam), Stroom Den Haag, Heden Gallery, the Dutch Financial Daily (FD), Krakow Photo-month and Migrant Journal. She graduated from The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in July 2017 with the project Where the money is made, on the infrastructures of algorithmic trading. The project earned her the Steenbergen Stipendium and the second price in the Zilveren Camera category “Prijs voor Storytelling”.
Sophie Dyer (GB) is a designer-researcher. She is a freelancer (medieval mercenary), a regular contributor to Airwars and co-producer of the experimental documentary unit, 流泥泥. She studied Visual Communication at The Glasgow School of Art, before completing an MA with a focus on the spatial and aesthetic conditions of conflict, at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths. Her work there investigated the material and social manifestations of the radio spectrum – as an inherently political space which activists, scientists and diplomats must negotiate, so as to avert “chaos in the ether”.