KATE DONOVAN                  ︎


Kate Donovan is an artist and researcher working with radio, listening and the more-than-human. She means radio as an elemental, collective, and artistic medium.  



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collaborative projects:

︎︎︎ Radio Otherwise
︎︎︎ SENSING Research Group
︎︎︎ Shortwave Collective
︎︎︎ Datscha Radio
︎︎︎ Colaboradio

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TUNING TO THE BIRD BODY
Premiere: 11.5.2021



Radio piece / 29m47s / 2021
In the 1930s, over the course of two natural history expeditions to Tibet, Sikkim, and adjoining provinces in China, the German SS officer and zoologist Ernst Schäfer and the American naturalist Brooke Dolan II killed roughly 3,000 birds before transporting them back to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, where they remain today.

This work uses radio as a way to embed the poems of Jan Verberkmoes, which explore the imagined subjectivities of these birds, both as creatures and as artifacts used for human edification; written in a hybridized, fragmented language composed of English with threads of German breaking through, the poems seek to linguistically map the transformation of the birds bodies from living beings into scientific specimens.

Here, radio refers to its own mottled history and reflects the power dynamics involved in colonial acts of claiming, of taking. The bird body and the radio body interweave to reveal a complex relationship of movement through space and time.

Many of the radio sounds come from the online short wave receiver at the university of Twente. There are also recordings of electromagnetic signals via Martin Howse and Shintaro Myazaki's Detektor. And recordings of water and sand using a self-made hydrophone.

This piece was commissioned by Soundart Radio’s Tomorrow’s Transmissions series, thanks to the Culture Recovery Fund.

Subsequently broadcast on Radiophrenia, Glasgow 2021.