I came across an interview in Monocle with Alanna Heiss about her internet radio station, Art International Radio, which is run out of the Clocktower Gallery in Lower Manhattan. AIR takes a flexible approach to art and radio, producing radio shows, interviews, music, audio art, radio drama and everything that falls in between (and outside) as long as, in Heiss’ words, it “has a relationship with radio.” They also have physical art exhibitions in the Clocktower.
A few things jumped out at me when I read this interview:
What a big exploration of art and sound. And at the same time, a focused one. AIR has got the two cornerstones of art and sound, and within that anything goes. It’s got the breadth with a wide variety of audio, but it’s also got the depth, with historic audio archives from the Museum of Modern Art, the Poetry Society of America and The Clocktower Oral History Project.
How (and why) do you archive an ephemeral medium like audio? According to Alanna, an important aspect of AIR is archiving and keeping a collection of past audio. Not like an art collection that necessarily gets more valuable in a tangible sense, but the value comes as each new voice is added to the archive so that it becomes a sort of cultural resource. AIR is very much a product of its place, of its founder, Alanna Heiss, and her history. The audio archive brings that history to life.
The relationship between art and commerce requires negotiation. It’s a topic which has come up in the office several times recently; facilitating a responsible, interesting relationship between art and commerce, which—in the real world—are rarely separate from each other to begin with. And I’m not really interested in trying to define art, as it’s often a circular debate, but I think that what Alanna Heiss does really well with AIR is have ideas and express them with variety, creating a long form piece of communication with the life of the radio station, and having longer conversations with more people in live way via the internet.
Art, commerce or whatever, that’s just interesting communication.
Check out part of Monocle’s interview with Alanna Heiss here.
And check out the AIR website, where you can find much more than I’ve been able to describe here.