Public Art Munich - PAM 2018 – Lawrence Abu Hamda - Aural Contract Audio Archive - Forensic listening in the former studios of Radio Free Europe

Public Art Munich - PAM 2018 / Game Changers

Lawrence Abu Hamdan is passionate about the politics of listening, the use of voice, the ideology of free speech, and the construction of truth, as well as the concept of acoustic leaks. His ongoing archive, Aural Contract, gathers short audible tracks from the first radio broadcasts of a trial in 1925, through sound evidence and voice identification technology, to the UK’s controversial use of voice analysis to determine the origins of asylum seekers’ accents.

In Munich, Abu Hamdan stages an acoustic intervention about the politics of voice and sound leakage in the studios of the former Radio Free Europe, today the library of the University of Munich’s media studies department. Radio Free Europe was an anti-communist, CIA-led news broadcast with daily programming in Eastern European languages such as Romanian, Hungarian, and Polish. It was broadcast from the English Garden to the Eastern Bloc between 1949 and 1995 under the famous slogan: ‘The Iron Curtain Is Not Soundproof,’ and it played a crucial role during the Cold War and, subsequently, the fall of the wall.

The visitor is invited to follow the analogue transmission cables, which leak archive transmissions from between the books. The project embraces the transformation of this site from a place where the voice was once bold and far reaching, to its current incarnation as a space of contemplation and study of media ideology; it plays out the contradiction between its secretive local operations not widely known to Munichers and its huge listenership. Finally, it asks: What are the contemporary politics of leakage and the production of free speech in the past, present, and future?