With information from the FCC I studied the distribution of weaker radio signals across the Champaign-Urbana, Illinois area. This creates several boundary lines over the landscape as the strength of the magnetic fields diminish across space. These borders are theoretical, based off of calculations from initial transmission strength, distance, and elevation. Radio waves have “line of sight” properties and are interrupted by any physical obstruction, which makes the real-world signal pattern much more intricate. While a certain street might mark the boundary between neighborhoods on paper, the perceived changes as you move from one to the next can be gradual and/or irregular. The same goes for radio waves. Their falloff can vary from a staccato binary on/off phenomenon, where total static exists a few feet away from a point with perfect reception. Other times there is a smooth transition from signal to noise over distance. These variances create dynamic and fluid border lines that shift as their surroundings do.

I mapped the specific, real-world boundaries according to the reception of my car radio for three of these frequencies and used that information to construct performances. Walking along the borders, I broadcast the sounds of my environment live. The transmission is picked up by any receiver tuned to that frequency within a 5- to 50-foot radius depending on conditions such as the strength of the original signal, sensitivity of the receiver, and my antenna height relative to the receiver. My signal, carrying the sounds of the immediate surroundings, can briefly overtake the regular programming on car radios, home stereos, etc. This interference causes static, feedback, or a clean delivery of local noise.

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