During the first semester of 2015/2016 Riccardo Giacconi will teach the Sound Objects course in the Art Research Programme of the Lectorate Art Theory & Practice. The course is based on Giacconi’s research on radio-theatre and radio-documentary as well as on the organization (since 2012) of the HELICOTREMA Recorded Audio Festival. This festival is focussed on collective listening sessions and space-time settings dedicated to narrative and time-based audio formats.

Students from various disciplines are invited to join this course, to experiment with audio recording/mixing techniques and to listen collectively to sound-based narrative pieces such as radio-documentaries, radio-dramas and audio-walks.


Riccardo Giacconi

For whom?

For 2nd and 3rd year students of KABK, KC and LU


4 whole day sessions, September – December 2015

Radio-play and radio-documentary have had a significant impact on mass audiences in the time when television had not yet reached many countries, from the 1920s to the 1950s. For several decades radio was the most accessible medium to communities around the world, and radio plays was a very popular form of entertainment. In the 1950s, when television began to take hold of culture, fewer and fewer people listened to radio broadcasts of this type, until they were almost extinct.

In the field of contemporary visual and performing art, the last decade has witnessed a gradual comeback of audio plays, audio dramas, audio documentaries and various kinds of time-based formats based on acoustic components only. Fiona Tan, Janet Cardiff, Marinella Senatore, Meris Angioletti, Marcelline Delbecq, Susan Phillipsz, Rossella Biscotti, Oswaldo Macià and Florian Hecker are just a few names of artists who have recently been exploring this kind of medium. Several contemporary art exhibitions focussing on sound took place in the last years, among which the 2011 Venice Biennale and the 2012 Documenta in Kassel, where numerous sound works were presented.

New audio formats share characteristics with classical radio plays, such as:

  • 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 involves, often, both spoken language and musical or sound elements;
  • the piece presents a (be it fictional or documentary) timeline.

For 2nd and 3rd year BA students of the Royal Academy of Art, Royal Conservatoire and Leiden University.

Full attendance is obligatory in order to receive study points towards the Individual Study Trajectory (2 EC).

Between 10 to 12 students can participate in the programme.
The course will be in English.

Wednesdays from 9 – 16.30 h
16 September 2015, 28 October 2015, 18 November 2015, 9 December 2015

Apply before 4 September 2015 by sending a brief motivation to:

The course consists of two parts. In the theoretical section, a brief history of experimental radio formats is studied, specifically focusing on radio documentaries. A series of listening sessions are organised in different contexts.

Some specific pieces, such as The solitude trilogy, a series of radio documentaries by the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould on populations in northern Canada, are taken as key references. Gould, one of the most famous pianists of his time, decided to start experimenting with radio documentaries in 1967.

A series of audio works by contemporary authors will be presented, such as Oswaldo Macià, Janet Cardiff, Florian Hecker, Hildegard Westerkamp and Pauline Oliveros. A direct dialogue is organized with authors Dario D’Aronco, Francesca Grilli and David Bernstein.

The second part of the course includes a practical section. Students are invited to develop their sound compositions on a series of specific topics, through the utilization of archival sound material or documentary recordings. Working in groups or individually, they manufacture narrative lines purely experimenting with sound, trying to approach the format of radio documentary.

The resulting works are presented and discussed in a collective listening situation, whose details are conceived collectively during the course. The final presentation is open to the public. On the occasion, a web radio or a downloadable podcast is produced.

The course is taught by Riccardo Giacconi.

RICCARDO GIACCONI (1985, Italy) started his doctoral study at PhDArts, Leiden University in 2014. He has studied fine arts at the IUAV University of Venezia, at UWE in Bristol and at New York University. His work was exhibited in various institutions, such as tranzitdisplay (Prague), MAXXI (Rome), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin) and in the “Résonance” section of the Lyon Biennale. He was artist-in-residence in Viafarini (Milan), lugar a dudas (Cali, Colombia), MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome and La Box (Bourges). He presented his films at several festivals, including the Rome Film Festival, the Torino Film Festival and the FID Marseille International Film Festival.

In 2007 he co-founded the collective Blauer Hase, with which he curates the periodical publication ‘Paesaggio’ and the ‘Helicotrema’ festival of collective listening.

David Bernstein, Francesca Grilli and Dario D’Aronco will teach a guest lecture.

DAVID BERNSTEIN (1988, USA) is an artist based in Amsterdam. He combines performance, sculpture, and writing to tell stories through objects. He has presented his work internationally at Walden Affairs, The Hague (2014); Nomas Foundation, Rome (2013); Performa 13, NY (2013); CAC, Vilnius (2013); Frutta, Rome (2013); De Appel, Amsterdam (2013); and SculptureCenter, NY (2012).

FRANCESCA GRILLI (1978, Italy) lives and works in Brussels.She was a resident artist at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam (2006 – 2008). In 2009 she was invited by Stedelijk Museum Bureau, SMBA to be part of Red AiR residency. Since 2008 she is a member of Fies Factory One.

DARIO D’ARONCO (1980, Italy) lives and works in Rome and Rotterdam. His work starts from an idea of three-dimensionality. He creates situations in which the viewer becomes implicated in, and part of, the work.

  • Rudolf Arnheim, An Art of Sound, 1936
  • Caleb Kelly (editor), Sound (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art), 2011
  • Brandon LaBelle, Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art, 2006
  • Dan Lander and Micah Lexier (editors), Sound By Artists, 1990
  • Pauline Oliveros, Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice, 2005
  • R. Murray Schafer, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, 1993
  • Susan Sontag, The Aesthetics of Silence. Styles of Radical Will, 1966
  • HELICOTREMA – Recorded sound festival, curated by Blauer Hase since 2012:

The course ‘Sound objects’ is part of the Art Research Programme of the Lectorate Art Theory & Practice.