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Weather Radio

  • M&A Courtyard 1619 Silver Lake Blvd Los Angeles, CA, 90026 United States (map)

MAY 8 – 22, 2005 / 88.5 FM

As the Weather Garden draws attention to atmosphere, the Weather Radio installation detects and broadcasts it. This project is a response to the challenges of representing physical space with sound. If the elemental planes are the subjects, then ether is the medium.

Currents of air that pass through the garden register in the metallic mesh that surrounds and covers the Weather Garden. Three mounted sensors, referencing height, width, and length detect the currents. As the mesh changes shape, its volume is dynamic – never static. Signals from the sensors then broadcast via FM transmitter back into the atmosphere as an impression of this volume. A series of small radio receivers provide sound to visitors to the garden while drivers on Silver Lake Blvd. can tune their car radios to listen on approach and departure.

The result is a complex but instantaneous and invisible series of detections, translations, transmissions, and receptions. The sensors themselves operate by transmitting radio waves to detect changes in magnetic fields. These changes translate into modulating sound waves and feed through circuitry to a transmitter and antenna that radiate a cloud of energy into the atmosphere in search of reception. Ephemeral in nature, this energy quickly dissipates into the ether unless captured by a properly tuned receiver and converts to a form that we can hear. The muted visuals of architecture were given a soundtrack when layered with this audible impression of the Weather Garden.

The broadcast operated 24 hours a day from noon on May 8th though May 22nd. Visitors to the Weather Garden heard the audio from noon-8pm via installed radios. Drivers and passerbys could tune-in to 88.5 FM frequency at any time.

Steve Rowell has produced numerous radio-based installations since the construction of the Mountain Radio project (with Mason Cooley) in the summer of 2001. He is currently programming KDRS, a remote radio installation at the Desert Research Station operated by the Center for Land Use Interpretation near the town of Hinkley, CA in the Mojave desert.

Earlier Event: May 7
Later Event: June 4
Maximilian's Schell