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Jandl and Mayröcker’s radio play Spaltungen
Inge Arteel

This chapter considers the vocal figurations in the radio play Spaltungen (1969) by the Austrian authors Ernst Jandl and Friederike Mayröcker. The chapter investigates how the manifestations of these voices connect with the theatrical phenomenon of the chorus within the medium of radio and the genre of the experimental radio play. After a brief overview of the history of the chorus, especially in the German context of the first half of the twentieth century, and a commentary on the Neues Hörspiel of the 1960s, the chapter analyses Spaltungen as a site of conflict between singular and collective vocal entities. The reading shows that the multilayered vocal structure relies both on the literary principles of concrete poetry and on experimental acoustic techniques of processing sounds and utterances. With this dynamic structure the radio play destabilises the performance format of the cultic mystery play with its hierarchical relation between the messianic male leader and the cheering mass of followers. The chapter concludes that the disembodied quality of the radio play can be read as an extreme reduction of the corporeal phenomenology of avant-garde mass spectacles and their fascist successors that tried to evoke corporeal presence even on the radio.

in Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde
Experimental radio plays in the postwar period

Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde offers the first in-depth study of the radio play’s significance for the neo-avant-garde. In the postwar period, radio began to function as a site of artistic experimentation for the literary neo-avant-garde, especially in the form of the radio play. In the wake of the historical avant-garde, the neo-avant-garde had a strong interest in aural media, in the seemingly autonomous power of sound and voice. Therefore, it is not surprising that postwar avant-garde artists and literary writers in particular all across Europe, the US and the UK started to experiment with the radio play. Neo-avant-garde artists actively engaged with newly created studios and platforms in the postwar period. The contributions to this book examine how the radiophonic neo-avant-garde stages political questions and acknowledges its own ideological structure, while taking into account the public nature of radio. Alongside these cultural and political contexts, the book also reflects on intermedial and material issues to analyse how they have impacted artistic production in different parts of the world. Specific attention is paid to how artists explored the creative affordances of radio and the semiotics of auditory storytelling through electroacoustic manipulation, stereophonic positioning, montage and mixing, while also probing the ways in which they experimented in related genres and media such as music, sound poetry and theatre, questioning the boundaries between them. Because of its exclusive focus on the audiophonic realm, the book offers a valuable new perspective on the continuing debate surrounding the neo-avant-garde and its relationship with the historical avant-garde.

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The acoustic neo-avant-gardes between literature and radio
Inge Arteel, Lars Bernaerts, Siebe Bluijs, and Pim Verhulst

The introductory chapter explains what is at stake in the exploration of postwar radiophonic experimentation and discusses some recent perspectives, such as those of sound studies and theories of the avant-garde. In particular, the chapter relates the radiophonic adventures of literary authors and other artists to the tradition of the avant-garde and the debates surrounding it. A lot of postwar creative radio art, for example pieces by Antonin Artaud or Georges Perec, continued the aims and strategies of the historical avant-garde. At the same time, they confronted and dealt with the intrinsic limitations of radio as a mass medium. This leads us to reconsider the question, raised by Peter Bürger, whether the neo-avant-garde is a failed avant-garde. Referring to a rich variety of radio plays and offering an outline of the volume, the introductory chapter argues that the neo-avant-gardes across Europe and North America both continued and renewed the views and means of the historical avant-gardes.

in Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde