Imaginative Radio Plays

Imaginative Radio Plays

Imaginative Radio Plays is a 6:00 sound landscape / poem / radio art work, one of eighteen works by international artists jury selected from one hundred submissions, for Helicotrema Festival 2017, as part of the world renowned Venice Art Biennale.


Helicotrema Festival

Helicotrema Festival 2017
Juried broadcast, international
1 of 18 international artists selected from 100 submissions
Part of the Venice Art Biennale
Palazzo Grassi
Venice, Italy
20-24 November 2017
Event website
My work at event website

Helicotrema borrows the format of the film festival, replacing the film screening with a program of collective listening sessions throughout Italy. Each is inspired by early radio broadcasts. Each experiments with how the listening experience can be enriched and adapted to different contexts.


I created and submitted Imaginative Radio Plays in response to an international open call for Helicotrema Festival 2017 curated by Blauer Hase and Giulia Morucchio. Imaginative Radio Plays was one of eighteen works by international artists jury selected from one hundred submissions.


Object: Audio file
Format: mp3
Bit Rate: 356kbs
Duration: 6:00
Created: 2017
Creator: John F. Barber

Begun in 2012, Helicotrema presents each year a program of audio plays, audio dramas, audio documentaries and various kinds of timeline-based formats based only on an acoustic component.

Such formats share numerous features with classical radio plays. For example, the audience is expected to listen to the whole piece (differently from a gallery-specific sound installation). A precise common gathering for the audience is established (as it happens in film screenings), The piece often involves both spoken language and musical or sound elements. The piece presents a (be it fictional or documentary) timeline. Sound works selected for Helicotrema present a narrative evolution over time.

Helicotrema travels to different cities throughout Italy in collaboration with other festivals and institutions. In 2017, Helicotrema was held in Venice, as part of the Venice Art Biennale.

Blauer Hase is an art collective founded in Venice in 2007 by Mario Ciaramitaro, Riccardo Giacconi, and Giulia Marzin, Daniele Zoico with the aim of proposing experimental forms of cultural production and experience.

Artist Statement

At one time, we listened to radio broadcasts in our homes, separated from others also listening in other places, yet connected through our shared act of listening. A favorite was radio plays, where in exchange for entertainment, listeners were expected to listen to the entire work. Despite this expectation, listeners were free to tune the receiver, seeking other listening experiences.

Inspired by early radio broadcasts, experimental poetry, and field recording, Imaginative Radio Plays imagines a mashup of sound elements—spoken word, music, environmental and mechanical sounds—combined as strands in a 6:00 sound narrative. These sonic strands, brought to our hearing by each tuning of the radio dial, combine to build a meta-narrative about listening.

In keeping with Helicotrema 2017, this approach is purposeful, and designed for a collective listening experiences where an audience specifically engages with the work. Ideally, audiences will listen to the entire work, consider how it sparks their imaginations over the time of the work, and afterward, discuss what stories they heard.