Reception & Range

The slideshow accompanying Tetsuo’s presentation at the Tate was titled The Phenomenology Of Radio. He didn’t really develop that theme in his talk, but his website goes a little further, and touches on the phenomenology of reception, as experienced through very low power community FM. Reception, he points out, is active. To get a signal, you may have to go outdoors, or at least place your receiver somewhere unusual. You are not a passive consumer, you are involved in the process. This thought extends to wireless: you must actively seek out an open node, and locate yourself in relation to both it and your particular needs, in the moment. This reflects, of course, the currently few locations where reception is even possible, let alone appropriate to a given need. Community networking can exploit this phenomenology. The most simple location-sensitivity is defined through range: certain content can be kept local — accessible only if you are in range of the wifi segment on which it is hosted. Keeping content local to subnets may be the easiest way for communities to create location-specific experiences — exploiting the raw characteristics of radio reception to force the active presence of an audience.