In 2010 artist David Sanchez Burr launched a project based on the idea of a community broadcasting itself in real time, an art experience reliant on chance and audience participation. He provided the instruments and other sound devices, the audience interacted and the project evolved, moving from the foothills of Sequoia National Park to galleries and art spaces in Las Vegas and Tennessee.
Next month the itinerant radio station heads to (re)happening, a celebrated experimental art event in North Carolina at the site of the legendary and short-lived Black Mountain College, where in 1952 John Cage held what is considered to be the first Happening in the United States. As one of 80 participating artists from around the world, Sanchez Burr will attach speakers playing the live broadcast to helium balloons released into the forest—a perfect fit for (re)happening, built on chance and observer participation.
Then it returns to Las Vegas, where on April 18 and 19 the artist will be the Neon Museum’s first artist in residence, installing portable radios in the museum’s second Boneyard for a live visitor-created field of sound that will broadcast through the facility in a low-frequency FM transmission. This time, the instruments will be accompanied by visitors talking about the museum’s historic signs using provided text or their own memories.
The family-friendly residency, titled citizen speak, is a collaboration between the Neon Museum and the Barrick Museum (which will later exhibit the instruments and audio recordings). The museums plan to make the residency program an annual event featuring artists who are parents and whose children influence or participate in their work. For Sanchez Burr, whose son Calixto, plays all the sound devices in the studio, it’s another opportunity to bring the community into art making in which the social dynamic, however it plays out, is a main ingredient.