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Hörweite - Earshot

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A live radio and web broadcast by gal, Bernhard Loibner, and Tom Sherman

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Part of the Kunstradio project RE-PLAY UPDATE which is inspired by the exhibition "RE-PLAY - the beginnings of international media-art in Austria" where radio artists were asked to realise a new series of projects relating to concepts and attitudes of the 70s.

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Hörweite/Earshot by gal/Bernhard Loibner/Tom Sherman refers to Herwig Kempingers conceptual piece "In Hörweite/Within Earshot" from the end of the 70s. It is a live-radio- and internet-project, which demonstrates, in the here and now of the networked mediascape of 2000, how the technologically mediated being within hearing has changed into an inevitable coming under the reach of surveillance technologies. The live-"actors" of "Hörweite/Earshot" are located at different geographical and medial locations. They find themselves simutaneously in the role of the observer and the - at least potentially - observed. The listeners/users are part of the cast of this live-set up. In a chat they are able to analyse and comment the piece and their part in it.
Concept......Kunstradio online documentation

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Herwig Kempinger_Earshot : "Earshot as spatial phenomenon used to define the specific distance within which an acoustic signal could be perceived and identified . Increasing institutionalization of our senses changed this specifically "spatial-acoustic " phenomenon into a " real-abstract " one. Perceiving media like radio, tape, film, TV etc. the sender is within earshot of the recipient but this is not the case vice versa (an exception is the telephone which is bi-directional). The one-way communication is determined, the switching gets institutionalized. Earshot does only exist as a meta-phaenomen and thus is exemplary for communication rituals. By the way: the english word "sound" also means "intact, unimpaired, error-free". The process closes with the speed of sound."

This text, together with a short sentence recorded on a tapecassette forms a project by Austrian artist Herwig Kempinger from the 1970's. It is the starting point for the piece developed more than 20 years later in a collaboration by gal, Bernhard Loibner and Tom Sherman. Again, Hoerweite/Earshot describes a media situation.

"we try to remix this concept, reflect the text and how this transformation of the "spatial-acoustic" phenomenon into a "real-abstract" works here and now: the explosion of the telecom sector and the world wide web enables us to (allegedly) communicate without any limitation. Through webcams and live streams we can perceive pictures and sounds from virtually any geographical location bypassing an institutionalized mediator. We can get in "touch" with each other, regardless of time or location. Still, as individuals we experience the physical separation from our communication partner to a worse degree than ever.

In a world which promises borderless communication everybody is a sender and receiver but also becomes a well observed user. It is inevitable that we leave footprints everywhere in logfiles and databases. At the same time we ourselves, experience the desire to eavesdrop e.g. on one of the countless web sites with private or public web cams. Privacy issues are the hot topic in the current media scenario. As soon as we surf the web our perception extends infinitely (in theory), at the same time we are always within earshot of a potential observer.

The starting point for the live piece are two public web cams and the voice of an observer. He is at home, in his cocoon, on his own. A protagonist of the myth of global communication, he is "connected", within our earshot, and still remains lonely in front of his PC. He communicates with us via telephone, on the screen he watches the scenery in his hometown, in our studio, listens to our audio stream (as any web user can do).

For us he is a place-holder, one of the countless web users, one out of millions of telephone calls being relayed simultaneously by the same satellite. His voice is a stream in the global noise of communication. We filter it out, make it public, loose it in interferences with other sounds, it disappears and reappears within our earshot.

During the piece sources/streams from different real and virtual locations get united. The observer's voice along with other sounds, texts, streams will be received in the studio via telephone and the net, processed in real time and projected back into media/virtual space (radio/network). The recipient's earshot gets extended infinitely. The studio is the hub and catalyst in this process, information is gathered, processed and fed back into the radio network and the web."

Bernhard Loibner
 
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