Radio Contortions: International Festival of Radio Art and Theory


Curated by Julia Loktev, Christof Migone and Bryan Zuraw.

Hosted by CKUT-FM, July 8-14, 1991, Montréal.

The festival included live to air performances, recorded works, a panel discussion and several workshop/lectures.

Live to air performances: Benoît Fauteux, Le mensonge de l’art; Système Minuit, Durée; Guy Stuckens / Eric Borgers / Chloé Martin / Laurence Brougiez, Magritte ou les oranges nocturnes; Julia Loktev and Nancy Steadman, Eating in Tongues; and Christof Migone, Intimacy.

Recorded works: Bruce Gottlieb, 10% Solution; Mohamed Lotfi, Chatouille; and Helen Thorington and Suzan-Lori Parks, Locomotive. In addition, 14 “artcarts,” recorded works of three minutes or less, were commissioned and aired during the festival. Contributors: ACRIQ, Zev Asher, dadababies, The Green Thumb Audio Visual Collective, Geneviève Heistek, Dan Lander, Rafael Lozano, Margo Beauregard, Tim McLaughlin, Christof Migone, Claude Schryer, Neil Strauss, Sarah Toy, and Gregory Whitehead.

Panelists: Frances Dyson, Douglas Kahn, Dan Lander, Julia Loktev (moderator), Wayne Morris, Helen Thorington, and Gregory Whitehead. Video documentation below.

Four workshops were held over two days: Writing with Sound by Douglas Kahn; How to Pronounce Prosthesis and Other Language Lessons by Gregory Whitehead; Mixing Cuts and Cutting Mixes: Sound Theory to Radio Art by Frances Dyson; and The Physique of the Soul by Dan Lander. Video documentation below.

Presented by the McGill Comparative Literature and Graduate Communications Programs, CKUT 90.3 FM, and the National Campus and Community Radio Conference.

Thanks to Brian Massumi.


Limber up those limbs, as if your bones became cartilage again, youthful elasticity. Most of us don’t stretch as far anymore, fingertips to toes, just barely – helps to cheat with those bended knees. The contortionist twists, twirls and twitters his material be it body, language, or instrument. The radio contortionist has for instrument the very tip of its tongue to the deepest reaches of your ear. The saliva that wets your ear is the medium that is too often used to make a mass of you.

The radio artist is the haphazard rescuer, a rescue attempt passes you by the instant you can say boo! Alas, we are sorry to say that here at Radio Contortions we encourage drowning. The air is deep and the sharks are friendly.

The radio artist who possesses a strong inverted breast-stroke kick or inverted scissors kick may choose to use the head carry while towing the passive listener. The leg action, however must be speeded up to maintain proper support and propulsion. The hold should be firm but the radio artist should avoid any tendency to exert pressure against the listener’s throat.

Radio art has no coordinates to give you, the buoys are lying. Jean-Luc Godard stated that film was truth 24 times a second —Radio is, thereby, truth every second. Whether that is slower or faster than film is not the point. Radio does not capture truth, it gives it away. So, we are grounding you on a fleeting impression.

The artists featured articulate and masticate radio via multiple stomachs, gurgling if need be. The various digestions will prick up your ears. Your radiophonic listening will invert to become listening radiophonically.