This is a short report from the April 2000 event, Live-stock: a 3-day audio-laboratory and public webcast event from Stockton-on-Tees, a small market town in north east UK. For 72 hours, Live-stock transmitted from the local arts centre roof on hyperlocal FM radio with a 3-4 mile radius, and simultaneously online as net.radio (via a temporary ISDN line and the Backspace server). This broadcast experimented with an unusual collision of audiences.
Live-stock was also an intriguing challenge of introducing the concepts of artist-run net.radio to a less teched-up region of the UK (with no cybercafe, two deeply commercial radio stations, a lot of unemployment, etc). It eventually involved audio contribution from close to 100 local people with little previous Internet experience.
People got the concept quite fast. The FM radio and live stream ran nonstop from 9am Friday to 9am Monday. Much of the content was produced onsite over the webcast weekend -- mixing in commissioned sound works and writers' contributions, voiceovers from artist presentations and technical workshops, electro-musical performances, and the miked-up noise of the morning cleaning ladies. Stockton found new levels of excitement as guests arrived from beyond the town limits and participants stayed up for substantial parts of the 72 hours.
The programming aesthetic invited a fairly huge range of audio possibilities. Some 14-year-olds from the housing estate recorded an audio map of Stockton, asking directions from the parish church to the video shop to the Chippie. Sneha Solanki's heartbeat booth broadcast internal body sounds by stethoscope from a networked cupboard. The Live-stock social interface included Tea Dancing lessons, where Stockton's old ladies' club cut up the dance floor in shiny silver shoes, with instructions from local ex-dance champ Gary Richardson; while remote participants attempted to do the Sweetheart Waltz and Live-stock Cha Cha Cha in the chat room. Live-stock was an interesting format for uploading localspace -- street and bird noise, cleaning lady chatter, happy technician banter, studio acoustics, bingo-callers etc, as village export to the net.
Over the weekend, contributors showed up from as far away as London, with 3D projected exploding turntables (Project Dark), a gender-alteration voice booth (Susanne Treister), and tales of dancing in
a skirt made from 20 microphones (Hayley Newman). Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie visited nearby sites made famous as TV locations and recorded their findings.
Contributions came also from international and network star guests, including E-lab representatives remixing Ozone sessions from the Live-stock studio. There was reciprocal input from the net, with incoming streams from remote contributors Pararadio (Hungary), Radioqualia (Amsterdam) and dj sessions from the Tryon Arts Center in North Carolina. Chapter Arts provided live Welsh rap, and
irational.org sent in a live stream over large timezone/cultural diferentials from CalArts in sunny California. Stockton got radio it had never heard before.
A proposal for a related event in Newcastle UK is being discussed for the autumn of 2001. Artists' documentation and a RealAudio archive of the entire 72 hour live mix can be found online at http://www.live-stock.org.