Waves of Resistance – Tonnta Friotaíochta

Radiophonic work considering how radio helps us with forced isolation and how visible and invisible boundaries can be broken via radio waves as an act of resistance. Magz Hall: radiophonic poem, music and location recordings in the Atantic and the artists garden. Voices Mairead Ni Chroninin and Alexandra Jueno.

11th September 28th September 2020. Aerial Sparks Project curated by Louise Manifold for Galway 2020. On Inis Oirr Island & Online. In partnership with the Marine Institute Ireland, in association with the Commissioners of Irish Lights; Áras Éanna, Inis Oírr; and Ars Electronica 2020. Supported through the Arts Council of Ireland.

Hy-Brasil Calling (Radiophonic poem, text)

Shrouded in mind fog, hidden from sight on the Porcupine Bank. 

Those who have sought me have taken flight I am no phantom frequency 

Transmitting across Derrigimlagh’s Na Beanna Beola, Glace Bay, Hamburg, Canterbury and far far beyond 

A message to unite us from enforced solitude

Let the borders around us disappear, pain eased through global transmission

From kitchen table I hear you Margaretta 

No longer counting the dead, living in fear and dread 

My garden has grown, bean sprouts rocket high

My radio speeds me away from the darkness and our forced separation

Out on the ocean and from my annexed home

We are not alone a message of unity, 

Women artists at sea 

My Radio ally disarms with me with the ongoing Haw Haw of ceasless power misused 

Benjamin knew this 

Uncertainty rocks hard but new shoots push through 

Is this all we can do to bide our time? 

Waiting …

Birds sing on as nature carries on throwing us a line.

This work is about how radio can helps during times of isolation. I have been rethinking the human condition in terms of isolation at sea, and how visible and invisible boundaries can be broken via radio waves as an act of resistance and the legacy of radio art across boundaries.

We are all kitchen table broadcasters now, online streaming means we have broken free with live streams across the globe for those with technology, power and the internet, However analogue radio  is still a mighty force and affordable for many worldwide. My radiophonic poem draws on my own enforced isolation first through Brexit and then in lockdown. In the spirit of transnationalism it sends a broadcast from the phantom but once mapped

island of Hy Brasil off the Irish coast, relaying a message of peace, hope and unity across all borders.



The birth of Radio Alice in 1976 Italy and the availability of affordable transmitters and equipment, opened up the radio medium to artists and to a nascent Free Radio movement in Europe. This conjunction of expanded artistic practices and technologically-facilitated media activism evolved into an emergent terrain of radio arts activity and led to the establishment of the artist radio stations and artist radio actions which broke boundaries in myriad ways. Free Radio in Europe inspired the mini FM movement in Japan led by Tetsuo Kogawa in the 1980’s which in turn informed artist led station Radia (1992) at Banff Arts Center Canada. In 1988, Polish artist Wojciech Bruszewski and German artist Wolf Kahlen were granted an ongoing analogue radio license with which to transmit Bruszewski’s art radio project Radio Ruins of Art, intended as a ‘philosophical discourse on infinity’ (Bruszewski, 2007). His inspiration for the radio project came after living in Berlin for a year and then returning to Poland which was under martial law in 1981 and where he was unable to leave or travel.

Radio history seeps around Galway

The stunning bog side of Derrigimlagh was the site of Marconi’s first commercial trans-atlantic station, where I found the crystal which is to be found on a kitchen table at the Gallery with Margaretta’s D’Arcy’s most engaging book on Galway’s Pirate Women.

In the 1980’s Women Sceal Radio was a kitchen table pirate station run by activist and performance artist Margaretta D’arcy, she broke government censorship to broadcast women’s voices from across the Irish divide. A 1970’s a court ruling took away most of the risk for pirate broadcasters, as radio equipment was allowed for training. A  loop hole in Irish law until 1988 meant that during the 70’s over 200 plus pirate radio stations to broadcast across the country, as long as the Garda couldn’t find a crystal in the transmitter, they couldn’t close it down. The law was changed in 1988 and the loophole closed.

Yellow waterproof radios broadcast my radiophonic poem in Gaelic and English mixed with sounds from my voyage on the Celtic Explorer and from my garden during lock down and a rhythmic arrangement I made with my analogue wasp synth. The radios are arranged in the pattern of pattern of crystal lattice as natural crystal was key part of the first radio receivers as found at the Marconi site.

The vinyl diagram is of a Universal crystal receiving apparatus 1914 (crystal radio). The coils significant as they echo the spiral of life and death found in Celtic art across Ireland such as kerbstone 67 found at New Grange which also features two concentric circles, thus the diagram can be seen to forge a link to the prehistoric Celtic world, engaging with the universal motive of the coil as spiral on this early electronic circuit design. Crystal radios relayed sound with no external power.

Image: Radio receiver 1914, Verhandlungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Basel, 1914, page 155. Author: Hans Zickendraht

Celtic Explorer residency

I made an audio diary of my time at sea last year on the Celtic Explorer a passage from Galway to Hamburg as I traveled with the crew of the ship. Listening back a year later its interesting how this short sea containment was to be a dry run for many months of lockdown. Like the crew at sea music radio as ever helped me get through it, but like Benjamin before me with each news hour the spell was broken, as it was in his time when as an agent of propaganda used to conceal mistakes by those in power. Walter Benjamin wrote during the second world war about how his friend the radio had been occupied by politicians and propaganda and he felt how it had turned against him as he tried to flee. American born fascist William Joyce better known as the infamous Lord Haw Haw was raised in Galway before he left for Hamburg via the UK only to return there for his execution for treason although not a British citizen, a twist of fate or bargaining saw his English and fellow broadcasting wife Margaret Joyce, Lady Haw Haw walk free.

My audio diary will be streamed as part of Ars Electronica 9-11 Sept whilst the radiophonic broadcast will be heard on the island Gallery in Inis Orr.

Garden GALWAY by Aerial/Sparks at Ars Electronica 2020

My garden routines kept me sane in moments of despair this year in lockdown, I grew beans and other vegetables for the first time, the process soothing my mind during the endless and deeply depressing gravity of the pandemic as it unfolded. Whilst at sea I thought about radio gardens and nature a lot. There is a lot of folk lore about the dangers of women at sea and how having plants at sea will send you back to land. As the Captain of the Explorer said to me if sailors thought about shipwrecks they would never go to sea, I like many have found comfort in nature and its unbroken cycle. Sea swimming this year near my home in east Kent has been most reviving and life affirming, a perfect tandem for me between sea and land.









Waves of Resistance / Tonnta Friotaíochta,