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Cosmic Radio

Shock Forest Group

The multi-disciplinary team Shock Forest Group will conduct an in-depth investigation into the history, present and future of radio. In the context of Philips, the city of Eindhoven and beyond, the group investigates radio as a means of collective listening; as cosmic sound; as an instrument of rebellion; as invisible waves. The first phase of their research will be presented as a physical installation at STRP Festival.

Cosmic Radio
The word cosmic comes from the ancient Greek verb κοσμέω which means to order, or to arrange. It was especially used to speak about marshalling armies in place. This verb was then used by philosopher-poet musician Pythagoras to describe the order seen in the stars. Through their time researching the history of radio in the Netherlands, the group’s preconceived notions of the cosmic have been brought “down to earth” to a different understanding which has driven them closer to the original definition of this word rather than its Pythagorean version.

It is known that our urban environments create so much light that it blinds us from seeing the stars in our galaxy. Similarly, we create so much electromagnetic noise, that it is difficult to listen, in an urban environment, beyond the noises we humans create. The antennas in the room have the potential for listening to events happening in the ionosphere and in the magnetic field lines of the earth but the sheer amount of electrical grid current and other urban noise makes it unlikely. From radio telescopes covered in moss near Exloo, to military exercises soundtracking our visits to Radio Kootwijk, to telescopes built on a former Nazi transit camp in Westerbork, their time researching radio has shown them another kind of order, a terrestrial one, whose constant pulse is undeniable in any definition about what is really out there.

Listen to a live sonic map of very low frequency electromagnetic waves passing through the room. Very low frequency waves can travel around the world and pass through solid objects including concrete buildings. Each copper structure in the space is an antenna, capturing different sounds depending on the size, shape, and direction of its area. Shock Forest Group first started experimenting with a small antenna in the backyard of their temporary home in Eindhoven. Since April 1, they have been in residence searching for traces of social, colonial, and natural histories in the development of radio. In this first phase of their research, they have more questions than answers. “Our bodies help us listen to these questions. Where are the sounds in this room coming from? How will they change day to day? How do non-human beings feel the noise our electrical grids create? How does the sound affect us even when we can’t hear it?”

The group will continue to layer antennas in the space throughout the STRP Festival to reveal new sounds that may both situate us in Eindhoven and shift their perspectives to global phenomena that emit frequencies they might hear in the room.

Film (31’34’’)
“This is an in-progress visual archive of our collective research process at sites of radio infrastructure throughout the Netherlands. When we set out to learn about cosmic radio, we started with the Phillips company’s early production of radios and its shortwave radio broadcasting station called PHOHI for Dutch citizens living in occupied Indonesia. The first
radio broadcasts from the Netherlands to the so-called Dutch East Indies were sent via long wave from Radio Kootwijk, the first site we visited on April 4.

When we arrived, we heard guns firing from a military base nearby. When Philips sent the first PHOHI broadcasts from the Philips Laboratories in Eindhoven, Philips’ shortwave transmitters became a national pride. In 2004, Huizen’s city council voted to commemorate the Huizen Transmitters with a scaled down replica of the original structures, now located in the centerof a roundabout.

Like a call and response, humans send and receive, hoping to be heard or found. The LOFAR Telescope Core, the second site we explored that day, looks like an unassuming array of panels and antenna dispersed in a field near Exloo, but underground fiber optic cables connect it to 51 other sites across Europe. The telescope operates at the lowest observable frequencies from Earth. There is no fence around the telescope core and birds pass through to graze while moss grows on the antennae.

Our fourth site, the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, is an array of 14 telescopes designed for large scale surveys of the northern sky, located at the site of the former Westerbork Nazi detention camp, which later became a refugee camp operated by the Dutch government. Humans have always yearned to create new forms of intelligence, but when we use our bodies to understand our surroundings, we may find terrestrial intelligence that lives around us.”

Cosmic Radio is presented by Unusual Suspects in collaboration with Powered by TINC in association with STRP Festival, Van Abbemuseum, TAC, NULZES and Van Abbehuis.

Visit the online environment of this project at www.cosmicradio.nl


  • 13 Apr
    12:00 – 20:00
  • 14 Apr
    12:00 – 20:00
  • 15 Apr
    12:00 – 20:00
  • 16 Apr
    12:00 – 20:00

How to get there?

Professor doctor Dorgelolaan, Fellenoord, Centrum 2
5611 BA Eindhoven