Relationships in Radio: MCA Installation

Back in March, Jon Cates and Jeff Kolar took over a space in Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Using radio as their medium, they explore what it means both as a physical object and a cultural symbol, questioning our experience of broadcasting and online music streaming. We were excited to hear they planned to use the Touch Board in their performance, so sent a couple for them to try out. We caught up with Jon and Jeff after the performance to hear how it went and get a deeper understanding of their working process and interests.

Photo Credit: Danielle Campbell

So, can you tell us about where and how the project started out?

We received the invitation from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and began to experiment with how we could collaborate on this installation and performance. We have collaborated previously and decided to activate the museum in a new way.

How did you come across the Touch Board and why did you decide to use it in your project?

We have both worked with Arduino before and follow developments with these technologies. The Touch Board offers a very simple way to integrate hardware and software with objects. Our MCA performance was deeply focused on bridging analog and digital transmission technologies, so the Touch Board was a perfect tool to develop and implement these conceptual ideas further.

Why radio as a medium?

Radio is about human relationships. Those relationships are both visible and invisible and they take place within the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio is material, within the airwaves, and simultaneously immaterial, floating above and flowing through you. Radio travels through bodies, architectures, urban and rural spaces. It can quickly mobilise a large amount of people in a short amount of time. Radio is also inherently unstable. These are the reasons we chose to work with such a complex and interesting medium.