Kata Kovács and Tom O’Doherty

LES-1, Oreganoweg, August 2020

August 26, 2020
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From August 11. to 13., 2020, Datscha Radio in Berlin broadcast three days of radio experiments, interviews, discussions, sound art presentations, space noises, and more, all as part of their annual radio art festival.

The festival, Listening to the Universe — Radiophonien des Alls, included contributions from a wide range of artists. We were very happy to be among those who were asked to make an artistic contribution to the event.

Datscha Radio’s description gives a poetic introduction to the theme and frame of the festival:

Every year in August, the Northern Hemisphere’s night sky is graced by meteor showers — the Perseids. Datscha Radio is using this astronomical spectacle as the departure point for a 48-hour festival of radio art, from moonset at 2:04 pm on August 11, until 2 pm on August 13, 2020.

Listening to the Universe — Radiophonien des Alls is dedicated to themes and music inspired by the phenomenon of the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Every year, around August 12, as the Earth draws close to the comet’s orbit, fragments of the comet fall into the Earth’s atmosphere at high speeds and light up in the form of shooting stars.

With a broad spectrum of topics — from cosmogonical myths to the signals of meteor detectors, from starlight-inspired violin improvisations to experimental horoscopes — Datscha Radio hopes to trace the path of these ‘falling stars’ to their manifestations in space and matter as the fictions and artistic responses that are bound up with them.

Our contribution was to receive the live signal from the LES-1 satellite (as it passed overhead on August 12., from 2:50pm to 3:26pm), and broadcast the sound derived from the signal, live on the radio. Datscha Radio is based in a small datscha in Oreganoweg, Pankow, and so we gave the live-intercepting of the signal the title LES-1, Oreganoweg, August 2020.

The signal from the LES-1 satellite also formed the core of our larger work Signal Tide.

Listen to the archive of the resulting broadcast:

Here below are some photos of the day.

Dascharadio: carrying the antenna to set up for the satellite pass (photo: Helen Thein)
Carrying the antenna to set up for the satellite pass (photo: Helen Thein)
JD Zazie and Gabi Schaffner setting up the day’s garden broadcasting
Setting up to receive the signal
More setup
Roadside monitoring station
The thin slanted line on the left is the LES-1 signal. And on the right, an accidental mirror-selfie.
Pointing the antenna by hand — while trying to avoiding sunburn