Export Radio 24hr RCA Work-in-Progress Show
erratic notes on a twitching animal, made during and after
This month we are inviting a new ‘voice’ in Export’s journal. Hattie Morrison (MA Critical Writing), is reviewing our 24h livestream event for RCA’s Work-in-Progress Show 2021.
We’ve never had the chance to meet in person with Hattie. Yet. She is part of these ‘Zoom personas’ that we encounter on a weekly basis. Based in Wales, she started her RCA journey this year, under the least encouraging odds to develop friendships and collaboration remotely. However, this situation didn’t prevent her from becoming one of the most dedicated and engaged students in her cohort. Leading the Critical Writing society ‘SCRAWL’, she has focused on gathering discourses and narratives from fellow classmates in CW and college-wide. On our end, we feel like Hattie has become a core member of Export. Activating the platform with SCRAWL events and workshops, initiating bright and hilarious conversations in our chatbox, supporting us all along the way with her kind words and video calls.
So it was only fair to invite her to bring her voice to this reflection process we are conducting in our journal.
A warm welcome to Hattie!
30th of January & 7th March
It’s four in the morning and the sounds are still simmering, slower now. I see some stranger I know through pixels, head bopping, drinking a lager in a kitchen somewhere. I’ve been listening to the Export Radio 24hour WIP Show twitch stream– an online showcase of performances, roundtable discussions and audio exhibitions by RCA students and artists from elsewhere– since five this afternoon, and the oily part of the night is starting to separate; the end of the stream approaching.
As the music drifts around me, I think in delirium, about the name of this platform; twitch –and I laugh. I laugh because this showcase has turned a huge group of artists –all geographically separate but joined by a collective interest in exchange – into some kind of animal. An animal that’s been moving forward for hours, sharing, running, jumping excitedly between mediums and ideas, and now, at this late part of the night, the animal is slower, dozing, near sleep after a long day of activity but still alive and watching, twitching. Twitch. It seems fitting. There’s an aliveness to it all.
This animal – we – are being shepherded by Carmo, Dougal and Louise – Experimental Communication Masters students from the Royal College of Art who set up and run the station with support from The Varley Award. They’ve been passing the baton between one another as the stream pushes forward, chatting and reflecting between every live conversation, music set and performance. In doing so, they have been a crucial thread trying this expansive range of ideas and exhibitions together. They make this whole thing feel considered and curated but not too controlled. It’s still sparkling, running, fluid. A stream that’s aptly free flowing. A scattering. Peppered.
I recall the highlights in hindsight from the 24hour Show in a way similar to the show itself – scattered: I remember the Art School Radio Round Table; two hours of buzzing enthusiasm that could only be likened to the cutting of a birthday cake, where people with intricate differences in opinion and radio experience just wanted to share. I remember Oomoo’s DJ set, with twisting, seething music leaking through the speakers of our collective computers – the stragglers, all separate but together in that oily part of the night. I remember the sound of footsteps and roads as we followed Getting Lost with a Map, waking us up from the dizzy listening of hours before, with paper rustling and duvet rustling. I remember hearing my own voice read something about sizzling meat, then Amber Wheeler read about tequila, then Sophie Paul about footnotes – all of us from the Writing Masters at the RCA, reading our words that would otherwise have gone unheard.
This, simply put, is what the 24hr Export Radio WIP Show did; it celebrated and showcased the nature of exchange that continues to happen within and between institutions like the RCA this year, at a time of divide and distance. Exchanges online and in pixel.
Since the event – I remember 4am with a tired clarity. We, the stragglers, were left. Most of us were strangers but we shared a general camaraderie after spending all day listening to one another speak, share ideas, talk and joke in the chat on Export Radio’s erratic site – at times difficult to navigate but appropriately fidgety. I remember wondering what this event would have been like if it were experienced in person. I remember imagining what those of us still listening at 4am would look like in an apartment somewhere, or a gallery, as the party crawled on. As we, the animal, trudged on. We would probably have been on a prolapsing sofa, listening to an algorithm cough up some ambient techno in another room, beer cans sprawled about us, with faces melting into the white painted gallery walls as we talked slowly about all of the things we’d heard that day –
but this event wasn’t in a gallery space, and that’s why it worked. The Export Radio 24hour WiP Show worked because it was online. It wasn’t pinned to one space, which allowed people to come and listen from their kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms or bus routes while they had other things to do. I ate my dinner listening to RCA White Noise. I did my laundry listening to Fash On Radio. I wiped away breadcrumbs and soaked a baking dish listening to Tarot Reading & The Major Arcana. By hosting this exchange online, the walls were deleted. Things felt wider, more open.
It’s exciting to see what online student radio can do at the time of post-campus art schools.
It’s exciting to see this new kind of animal.