Miles Scharff (2021)

FRK.MOD by Miles Scharff :: Supported by FRFF (#2022-030) from STUDIO for Creative Inquiry on Vimeo.

FRK.MOD was a public installation that explored the sounds of localized radio transmission. Six radio transmitters were mounted on telephone poles in Millvale, PA, a borough of Pittsburgh. Each transmitter was paired with an MP3 player which contained an originally composed piece of audio and transmitted this audio on the same frequency. The listener was meant to wear a pair of radio receiver headphones, receiving on the same frequency as the transmitters, and walk down the street. As the listener moves between the transmitters, the signals will compete to be received. The result of this interference is a compelling and disorienting sonic experience.

The composed audio was inspired by the science of radio and the propagation of waves in the natural world. Frequency modulation synthesis as well as a technique to step through one waveform using the amplitude of another was used to represent the relationship between the carrier frequency and the modulator frequency, the basis of radio. The audio also used radio samples captured by placing contact microphones on the beams of a bridge. These sounds mimic the qualities of the interference between the transmitters, creating elements of continuity for the listener.

(Road Map for the project)

This project was made possible by Frank-Ratchye Further Fund Grant #2022-030.