About Talking Drums Radio

Curator: Jeph LO & SUN Yi-Cheng
Technical and Project Consultant: Yannick Dauby
System Designer: 
Jeph Lo
Radio Studio Construction: 
TheCube Project SapceArt War Company

Invented in the early 20th century, radio broadcasting used to be the most readily and easily accessible source of information, music and drama for the multitudes. It was also a tool of perceptual experience that builds consensuses among different individuals and groups, just as what media theorist Marshall McLuhan claimed the power that radio retribalized mankind. Actually, he invoked the metaphor of “tribal drum” to represent radio and the sound it broadcasts. 

Talking Drums Radio, the title of this project, owes its inspiration to McLuhan’s idea of “Radio: the tribal drum,” and derives its connotation from a discovery by English naval officer and explorer William Allan during his voyage to the continent of Africa—the tribal members are able to communicate complex and even highly poetic messages (e.g. declaring the birth of a baby, and asking the tribal members to attend a funeral at dawn) with one another by means of simple drumbeats. 

Nowadays, people are much more familiar with radio broadcasting as a medium, and even its function of information transmission is almost completely replaced by the Internet—multifarious audio-visual services such as selected and online streaming have become more popular ways of communication. However, as a bitter legacy of the strict radio frequency regulation imposed in the martial law period, the works of art based on radio broadcasting have been few and far between in Taiwan to date. Can Taiwanese artists contemplate and discover a new possibility for artistic practice by employing radio broadcasting and sound as their creative media?

To carry out this experiment, TheCube invited sound artist Yannick Dauby to serve as technical and project consultant. In addition to giving workshops on sound recordings, a recording studio is designed and constructed in TheCube. The first phase of this project features more than 20 groups of participants, their recorded works are broadcasted in the form of online audio streaming from 27 April 2019. Apart from these broadcasts, artist Chi Po-Hao developed a composing system that can automatically compose sound according to different temporal and ambient parameters on a daily basis, and use these pieces of music to connect each radio broadcasts.