Jason Kahn 
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Works for Radio
"In the Air"

Technique: short wave radios

Bhuta Gallery
Crafts Museum
Delhi, India

November 12–30, 2010

Fifty radios were distributed in five rows spanned across the Bhuta Gallery of the Crafts Museum in Delhi. The radios were hung with transparent plastic fishing line three meters from the floor of the gallery.

Each of the radios was tuned to an area of static. By slowly moving through the exhibition space the visitor experienced rich variations in phasing occurring between the radios as well as a heightened perception of the acoustical qualities of the exhibition space, enhanced through reflections cast by the body of static waves.

Beyond the acoustic experience of the the installation, the body of radios created a physical metaphor for the transmission waves, not just in the form of the actual radios themselves but in the mass of sound which takes on the exhibition space as a bodily entity.

When originally asked by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia to show this piece at the Crafts Museum, I was told that the temple statues from Karnataka could be removed. When I arrived at the museum I was told that the statues had to remain in place (as they were quite old and in some cases too fragile to move). I was faced with the dilemma of sharing the installation space with an existing exhibition. Interestingly enough, though, I found that upon entering the Bhuta Gallery most people at first looked towards the ceiling in the direction of where the sound was coming from. And that afterward they closed their eyes while standing in the space.

Although I usually prefer to show pieces such as this in an empty space I was relieved to find that the two exhibitions could co-exist without the one impinging on the other. The director of the museum actually told me that the sound of the radios reminded her of rain, which was appropriate for the statues as Karnataka experiences a heavy monsoon season every year.