The project is a performance, aimed at creating an audiovisual experience, which commences from the broad theme of community radio identity. The performance’s aural aspect consists of electric guitar experimentations and electronics, while the audience is simultaneously exposed to a live video‐art composition.
Regarding the sound, an electroacoustic hue created by Yiannis Christidis’ guitar improvisations is added to fragments of radio recordings by Cut‐Radio’s producers, the community radio station of Cyprus University of Technology. These recordings consist of either unprocessed excerpts from radio shows, or already-edited sound collages, which are based on the radio station’s past broadcasts. Both radio sound categories create a first layer, to which the percussive sounds, deriving from the guitar’s electronics, combined with the sounds of iron and glass objects on the strings, are added, creating a particular – sometimes disturbing – soundscape.
The video stream is a live‐evolving collage that uses images, and is controlled by Markos Souropetsis. The images are pre-shot by Communication and Internet Studies Department students who are enrolled in the course “Radio Production‐Digital Radio”. These images are the students’ personal and visual reply to the question: “What is the moving image of community radio?”. During the winter class of 2017, nine students were instructed to film their responses to a series of lectures and workshops regarding the definition of community, and how the community could relate to radio. Their spontaneous visual responses depict their points of view regarding community radio. The morphing (cloning, randomization, speed & color modification etc.) of those videos forms the visual outcome for the performance, which intends to create an immersive experience. A live combination of image and sound, constantly exploring the transgressive nature of community media ensues: The stable cinematographic shot, with the students’ points of view, gets digitally manipulated along with sound originating from the community media context.
The overall goal of the artists is to question and demonstrate the fluidity of the term ‘community radio’, regarding both its definitions and its representations in the minds of contemporary students. The performance wishes to push audio-visual experimentation towards/using a context of community media.
-Performance on 10.12.2017 during the R! Festival
Interview with Yiannis Christidis
By Olga Yegorova, on 15/11/17
Olga: You have been selected to take part in R! with a particular work, but what characterizes your art more in general?
Yiannis: When it comes to a specific form of art: Music and sound art that mixes noisy with traditional material in combination with humorous material is what I do. When it comes to my academic work, I am into sound studies and the social anthropology of sound. It is about how people listen to their environment and how they go through this sound environment. So it’s an anthropological/ musical approach that I focus on, both academically and artistically.
Olga: R! covers a variety of themes and concepts, where all projects relate to notions such as participation, democracy, community media and/or power, always in very diverse ways. From your point of view, which of these concepts play a role in your project?
Yiannis: It is mostly about community media. My affiliation running the community radio of the [Cyprus] university [of Technology] leads to a relationship with community media by default. The greatest challenge for me is thereby to cultivate the term solidarity in the students’ minds, hearts, and souls. It is about making them feel and practice community media, not only understand what this means. In a wider sense, solidarity/voluntarism are the values which we always try to make students reflect on, as an additional, non-formal educative tool, so that, when they leave the university, they have this experience of community. However, the notion of community can be really challenging to understand, to accept, and especially to sense and practice.
Olga: Why do you think that solidarity or voluntarism are important in a wider societal context?
Yiannis: To me, they are values that are at the top of the human values that one needs to live in order to die happily. They are also tools to raise voices and make people stronger. Being alone, one can never be strong enough, no matter how passionate he/she is. But more can happen if people with common interests, common concerns or common joys unite. This may sound utopian but this is a true value. To me, it is very high in its priority as a “life-skill”.
Olga: And do these values also translate into wider concepts of democracy for you?
Yiannis: Of course, they are means to being heard. Democracy, by default, has space for everyone to be heard. So it is more than necessary to form communities or to call out for groups of people. It is an essential element for the functioning of democracy.
Olga: Where does participation come into play in our project?
Yiannis: Elements of participation can be tracked in the following steps: The first discussion about community media and radio with the students, their small research on what community media is, the public talks about community media, … Another level is the one in which the responding images are combined with the sound that I will use in my performance with Markos, together with other sounds that have been broadcasted by the previously mentioned community radio station. It is a participatory project on many levels. From the practical aspects to more intellectual ones. At the last stage, the performance also tries to trigger discussions, which also demonstrate participatory elements. There, it is about making the subject “community media” more juicy.
Olga: In your performance, you take existent media pieces from the previously mentioned steps and thereby also change their meaning, in a way. What does this transformation stand for?
Yiannis: There is already an interventional value behind the media that is transformed. It is the first response of students to the questions “What does community radio mean for you?”. It is the first response, after some talks we had, about how to describe the notion of community media. But on a second level, this transformation intends to demonstrate the flow of community media, the ways it changes and the evolution which can be also personal to each producer. It concerns the continuous transformation that the medium may demonstrate. So, the performance has this evolving set-up between video and sound. On a basic level, it translates from an innocent media concept to a noisy complex concept. “Evolution” is the keyword.
Olga: Your project seems to highlight the importance of the senses, through listening and seeing, as communication forms. How does the sensory experience work in your project and why is it important to your work?
Yiannis: I think the way to describe this project starts off with the word comfort. It’s how people feel comfortable with what they are exposed to. The evolution of the media pieces may end up in something that cannot be tolerated for a long time acoustically. Noise is something unwanted by definition. But noise is also something that can be precious and requires some discomfort to discover its value and its magic; there are elements that may seem and sound complex and noisy, but in the end, they may demonstrate really detailed concepts. And the same applies to community media. The project can be seen as an effort for making a metaphor that describes the evolution of community media.
Olga: How does your project contribute to understanding what community media art can contribute to society?
Yiannis: Even listening to the word ‘art’ makes many people feel uncomfortable. But the point is to stress that community media art can be something that is taken out of the everyday. It can connect art to something that is felt and take it out of its elitist and snobby image that it might have.
Olga: More generally speaking, to what degree do you think that community media art is even possible? And what are its possibilities, and its limits?
Yiannis: It is not about the limitations of community media art. I would say it is about the limitations of the concept of art. I mean, even what we are doing now can be a form of art. It depends on the context and how it takes place. One might say that our performance takes place on a rather non-artsy road. But if someone wants to consider something as art, it is art, without having to delve into philosophical questions about what art is.
If we talk about community media, we talk about a form of art, whether it is video, sound, cinema or other media expressions. If community media is, for example, used to pronounce an opinion on a law change, this is can be seen as art. For me, there are no obvious restrictions on community media art. Except for, if there is a neo-nazi community media project. This cannot be art but to me, this can only be shit.
Olga: Does that mean that as long as the themes of community media do not reach the borders of democratic values, anything can exist and emerge as an artistic expression through community media?
Yiannis: Yes. But even if an art work has democratic values, it could be considered as art. If we use audio files of the radio propaganda of Goebbels along with background sound from the most anarchist forms of community media. Is that art? Maybe we don’t have to answer this question, but we have to think about it. And maybe, there are more important questions to ask oneself than whether a neo-nazi community media projects can be understood as art or not. I think this should not happen in the first place.
Work at Respublika!
Performance on 10 December 2017 during the R! Festival, video by Olga Yegorova and Nico Carpentier