‘If a radio broadcasts in the forest…’

…is something Sophea Lerner from {openradio} said in a recent production meeting. It just so happens that I trialed a hybrid outside-online ‘forest broadcast’ at the end of summer in a clearing behind Sophea’s apartment block; amongst woodpeckers, wind, moss, a light drizzle and chainsaws.

The broadcast took place on a regular ‘Forest Chatter’ meeting organised by Sepideh Ardalani at MASSIA. I took the opportunity to test a set-up that took a live microphone feed of environmental sounds, an audio stream from Jasmine Guffond’s Listening Back browser extension which sonifies cookie activity, and a feed from our Jitsi meeting, that was fed through WIDI Audio To MIDI convertor and mixed and processed in Ableton Live. The ‘music’ was broadcast into my forest surrounds and also looped back into our meeting. WIDI’s software takes in sounds, converts them on-the-fly into MIDI notation which is then played out through it’s range of soft-synth instruments. In trial mode, the plug-in would go silent intermittently, thus the performance brought a number of chance operations into play; forest sounds including broadcast audio, (surveillance) data sonification and audio from Jitsi.

Alice, who was in the meeting, imagined an orchestra hiding behind the trees, which I thought was a lovely visualisation. As something of a new experience for us all, I am interested to experiment more with how participants might listen and interact across multiple locations in such networked/situated events.