More-than-human Radio Ecologies. Expanded Listening and Expanding Radio, beyond the anthropocene.
Expanded Listening can mean the exploration of the limits of human sensory perception, and it can mean paying attention to silence and silencing, to untold or forgotten stories, perspectives and knowledges that fall out of dominant modes of historicising. And yet it can also mean expanding perspectives by considering listening from a more-than-human position. In this way, more-than-human bodies and matter are recognised as receptive and responsive.
Expanding Radio defines radio not simply as a form of broadcast and communications technology, but as an elemental and geological media that functions across species and scales. This includes large and small non-anthropogenic signals, such as the natural radio caused by lightning strikes, solar winds, the auroras and meteors, and also smaller transmissions like natural radioactivity, or the frequencies made by bees’ vibration pollination tactics, and even photosynthesis, which occurs when molecular antennae in plants respond to the sun’s radiation. I include magnetoreception and biomagnetism within this expanded framework – many migratory species use biogenic magnetite crystals as a navigational technique by sensing the Earth’s geomagnetic sphere. These are just some examples for thinking through the materiality and scale of more-than-human transmission and reception.
More-than-human Radio Ecologies is a project that brings these two concepts together whilst simultaneously situating itself within three fields: academically within critical discourses of the anthropocene, aiming to move constructively beyond it; politically within the act of listening, as a tool for ecological awareness, resistance, sustainability and care; and artistically, culturally and sensorially within practices of radio (art), which generate sites for trans‐scalar awareness, and physical‐auditory‐aesthetic experience. This project recognises the value of different modes of knowledge production and therefore combines academic and artistic practices, whilst explicitly using radio (art) as a research method.
Kate Donovan is a radio-artist and -researcher based in Berlin. Her work deals with radio in an elemental sense, in terms of transmission and interconnectedness, but also disruption and interference. She is interested in the more-than-human aspect of radio, as well as radio’s site- and time-specificity, and re-thinking/-working dominant radio histories.
She is actively involved in numerous art- and community radio projects including Archipel Stations Community Radio, CoLaboRadio/Free Radios Berlin Brandenburg, the garden radio art project Datscha Radio Berlin and International Feminist Art Group Shortwave Collective. Together with Monaí de Paula Antunes, she formed the ongoing artistic research project ‘Radio Otherwise’.
She has made works for and with many leading radio art organisations, including Radio Papesse/Lucia Festival, Italy, Soundart Radio, UK, Reveil/Soundcamp, UK, Wave Farm, USA, Radio Revolten, Germany, Radio Lora, Switzerland, and Radio Patapoe, the Netherlands.
She studied Fine Art: Time Based Media (BA hons) at the Hull School of Art, UK, and Anglophone Modernities in Literature and Culture (MA) at the University of Potsdam, with a thesis titled “Expanding Radio. Ecological thinking and trans-scalar encounters in contemporary radio art practice”.
Her essay “Nightcall Radio. Radio–anthropocene entanglements” was published in Fusion journal in 2021.