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Siebe Bluijs

This chapter examines the radio play’s use of collage, one of the most prominent techniques of the (neo-)avant-garde. It distinguishes collage as an artistic principle from the ‘technical’ procedure of montage – an editing technique that lies at the heart of the medium – arguing that the ‘collage radio play’ actively goes against the streamlining principle that is characteristic of the prototypical radio play. Taking the radio play’s multimodality as a starting point, this chapter explores the productive interaction between ‘textual’ and ‘audiophonic’ collage. After a theoretical discussion of collage as a transmedial concept, the chapter presents a close reading of three radio plays from Flanders and the Netherlands. Collage plays a distinctive role in these pieces: an experimental radiophonic collage piece, a radio play adaptation of a literary collage work, and a more or less conventional narrative radio play that incorporates various ‘found’ fragments. The chapter shows that the specific constraints and affordances of the radio play add new dimensions to the collage technique. Additionally, it shows that the concept is productive for radio works that fall outside the scope of the avant-garde as well.

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