Radio Chimney

“Radio Chimney” project consists of re-functioning the historical out of using industrial vapour chimneys of Barcelona as sound receptors which listen to the city. Entering into the chimneys and recording the sounds of the chimneys in different elevations to find different frequencies and phases is the starting point of the project. For increasing the creative value of public spaces, like a daily life rupture agent, the project produces several encounter chances between humans and creative sound “act”.

Radio Chimney from Ekin Bozkurt on Vimeo.

In the case of Radio Chimney, we are facing with the fact that, a landmark urban object which had a function until 1960s remains its existence nowadays as just a visual monument. But what is the meaning of a monument? Protection of the historical chimneys as heritage values is important but can’t be other ways of protection other than declare the chimney as an untouchable,impenetrable “monument”? An other way such as giving a new function to the chimney? In the Radio Chimney fieldwork, taking attention to the relationship between the historical significance and funcionality has been an important objective. Throughout the project, one chimney has been hacked by a new functionality: as a sound experiments labratory.

As the labratory team, we could just enter in one chimney because the industrial heritage protection makes the issue very delicate. All the historical masonry chimneys doors in public spaces are locked and it is not possible to enter in them without passing a bureaucratic process. By chance, an art center’s chimney which is actually a private place was unlocked and the experiments took place there. In the beginning of the field investigation the purpose was making experiments in several chimneys but in the end, just one chimney was available without needing any burocratic process. There occured a problematic of publicness in the process and this problematic can be solved in various ways.

Inside of chimneys can be re-evaluate as public places through the sound experiments and events. To re-function them as accesible, useable places and make calls for art events in and around the chimneys can increase the creative value of them as public spaces. Also this can be a successfull historical protection strategy.

In the sound labratory part, by recording sounds in different levels, the effect of the conical and long form of the chimney to the sounds has been investigated. In one aspect, that was an acoustic research about a long, vertical, narrow space. It has been a good research to understand the chimney effect on sound. In the other aspect, the experiment of listening the environmental sounds and traffic inside of the chimney was poetic. Being inside, to feel all the dust, the air circulation; thinking that the smoke used to pass in this very place in the past and that inside was very hot; think about the industrial past of the neighborhood through all these feelings, sounds and the knowledge about the past function is a poetic experience. And being able to experience creates a crash, a “rupture” in daily life’s pragmatist circle of “work-go home-reproduce your labour-work”. Experiencing it through sound art doubles the rupture because sound art is also another a “thing” which ruptures music and plastic arts. As a future project; creating participative listening events around the chimneys with headphones or loudspeakers; Installing microphones in different levels of chimney and let people listen the sound of air in the chimney is a possibility: Organizing a “Micro Sound Art Festival of Masonry Chimneys”.

In the radio streaming part of the investigation with the help of Hangar, we tried to make a streaming from the chimney. We let the equipments inside of the chimney and went home. Because of the wireless connections was low, the streaming was able to made for 2 hours. But in the continuation of the investigation, one of the aims is to make a permanent radio streaming from a chimney. The other aim is installing the streaming equipments in for example 4 chimneys. Giving the sounds of 3 of them to one of the chimney and thus, creating a live concert by those streamings. While amplifying the sounds which is captured in different levels; the interesting fact is that the installation of the speakers for each chimney will be vertical. Because in a chimney the different levels can be listened vertically. Not as left and right; but as up and down. Radio streaming is an interesting movement to interrogate these questions: How can be listened the chimney sounds from a different place and a different time? (recording and composition) How can they be listened from a different place and in real time? (radio streaming) Without seing a chimney, without the visual quality of a chimney, can we experience a chimney by listening its sound in real time? Than the thing that we listen can be named as “sound object”?

“Radio Chimney” is indigenious to Barcelona as I carry it particulary in Poblenou which was Saint Marti before. Which has its own memories regarding Industrial Revolution, which has a unique process of its own. But at the same time the transformation of the industrial structures and the masonry chimneys is a global phenomenon at the time. The global cities have been passed more or less the same processes, have the same consequences and even have constructed the masonry chimneys by the same materials which is masonry.Furthermore, since the world is full of historical chimneys with different resonance qualities, there is a potential of creating a global sound map and even, a global radio streaming map which would have datas from different chimneys all around the world. This is an open sourced investigation: Anyone who wishes to investigate the chimney sounds may go and record sounds. Add the locations and sounds of the chimneys on an interactive digital map.