Inside a BBC radio studio. And this morning, some listeners to Radio 4 might have wondered what was amiss. (CC-BY) James Cridland.

Inside a BBC radio studio. And this morning, some listeners to Radio 4 might have wondered what was amiss. (CC-BY) James Cridland.

Before any explanation, perhaps you should listen. This is what some British listeners will hear as they tune into what they think will just be everyday national radio programming. Suffice to say, something will sound a bit off:

Artist Christian Marclay is the person responsible for the work, the first of five such commissions in sound art for the widely-heard UK broadcaster BBC Radio 4. (He joins Ruth Ewan, Mark Wallinger, Susan Hiller, and Peter Strickland. More information on Radio 4′s blog.)

This is the sort of commission that invites bold experimentation: working with London-based art platform Artangel, a GBP 1 million fund brings about new work under the name “Open,” and in this case simply gives artists three minutes of airtime. It’s a “blank canvas” – do with sound what you’d want.

And I think it’s worth noting that even in the Internet age, radio endures – and can be a place where artists may still toy with expectations, surprise, delight, or confound. The individual techniques of sound collage have gone unchanged for decades, but context and content are everything; with those techniques, you can still find something to say.

Thanks to Jim Warrier for sending this in; if you were a UK listener who had this pop out at you this morning, let us know.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicnolasthompson Nick Thompson

    The first synth I ever heard was on Radio 4 in about 1968 on a piece about Wendy Carlos playing Bach. My mum (I was about 5 at the time, called me in and said “listen to this, it’s not a real instrument”. Wonder if she knew what she started then :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/dancehallofthedead Jim Warrier

    Was very strange hearing this on Radio 4 this morning. I was thrown for a moment thinking there was a glitch in the system

  • BicycleThief II

    Yes. I thought it was a hack actually as the piece was quite subversive and thought promoting. Had to google radio 4 glitch to find out what happened and now I know. Good on the BBC anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1586025257 Stan Taylor

    This would have been wonderful; to hear this without knowing what was going on. “All you can do is suddenly listen.” Major props to the B-B-B-BC.

  • Dan

    Yea, really enjoyed listening to this on the radio, unexpected and exciting – really unique and innovative artistic piece, just what the BBC should be putting out for it’s listeners