Phantasmic Radio

Phantasmic Radio

Book Pages: 144 Illustrations: Published: September 1995

Author: Allen S. Weiss

Cultural Studies, Theater and Performance

The alienation of the self, the annihilation of the body, the fracturing, dispersal, and reconstruction of the disembodied voice: the themes of modernism, even of modern consciousness, occur as a matter of course in the phantasmic realm of radio. In this original work of cultural criticism, Allen S. Weiss explores the meaning of radio to the modern imagination. Weaving together cultural and technological history, aesthetic analysis, and epistemological reflection, his investigation reveals how radiophony transforms expression and, in doing so, calls into question assumptions about language and being, body and voice.
Phantasmic Radio presents a new perspective on the avant-garde radio experiments of Antonin Artaud and John Cage, and brings to light fascinating, lesser-known work by, among others, Valère Novarina, Gregory Whitehead, and Christof Migone. Weiss shows how Artaud’s "body without organs" establishes the closure of the flesh after the death of God; how Cage’s "imaginary landscapes" proffer the indissociability of techne and psyche; how Novarina reinvents the body through the word in his "theater of the ears." Going beyond the art historical context of these experiments, Weiss describes how, with their emphasis on montage and networks of transmission, they marked out the coordinates of modernism and prefigured what we now recognize as the postmodern.


“Weiss has produced a welcome addition to the growing canon of material devoted to radio theory and provides an inspiring collection of thoughts for those of us excited by the unexplored and creative potential of radio to stimulate the aural imagination. If the purposes of radio art is to affect the way we listen then the book could affect the way we think about radio.” — Jim Beaman, Viewfinder

"Phantasmic Radio is a real pleasure to read, both for its elegant style and its originality." — Michael Hardt, Duke University

"Putting a stethoscope to the chest of mass-culture’s first darling medium, Alan Weiss draws radio art out of electomagnetic obscurity and onto the stage of current debates on subjectivity and technology, primitivism and vanguardism, psychology and textuality. Historically rich, astute, and argumentative, Phantasmic Radio charts the theoretical flutters in the land of lost bodies and drifting signals. It attends to the jarring and brilliant broadcast of ideas as they dance across our eardrums." — John Corbett, author of Extended Play


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Price: $23.95

Open Access