On the occasion of Becoming Futures, a festival co-curated by ALMARE, Giulia Gregnanin and Radio Papesse at Timespan (Scottish Highlands, UK), we are delighted to host, just for a couple of weeks, Radiophonic Futurities, a playlist curated by Mark Vernon.

Drawing from the Radiophrenia archives, on April 19th, 2024 Mark Vernon presents a listening session mixing together excerpts from a wide variety of radio works that imagine possible futures through science fictions, technological predictions and revisioning utopian ideals. The mix includes radio plays written by AIs, vintage dystopian radiophonics, experiments with psychedelics and technology, domestic sci-fi, post-humanism and bio-acoustic phenomena. What will the future sound like? 

Radiophrenia is an artist run radio art collective and FM station based in Glasgow. 

Featuring  Alien productionsJosé Alejandro RiveraFrancis HeeryCatalina Barroso-Luque and Feronia Wennborg, Malcolm Clarke, Astrid BjorklundMagali Daniaux & Cédric PigotOmsk Social ClubNicky Stott and Nat Grant with Luc Yong, The Xstatic Tics, Robert BarryVernon & BurnsToni Dimitrov and Julia E Dyck

Becoming Futures is kindly supported by the Italian Institute of Culture Edinburgh, and the continuous support of the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Culture as part of the Italian Council (2022), the programme for the international promotion of Italian contemporary art.

A radio opera by Alien productions 

The genre of utopia is difficult. Utopias are not taken very seriously. They are considered anemic and boring, and in retrospect are most likely to be a curiosity. No one would think of setting up his life according to a literary utopia and, for example, demand the fulfillment of a solar state. It seems as if the future has lost everything worth striving for. It has become a place of vague fears. By now it is clear to everyone that the future cannot be an engineered achievement. That it is not " do-able ". That in the end no design will prevail. 

As soon as experts (in August 2016) introduced the Anthropocene (ancient Greek: "the humanly [made] new") as a designation for the current age of the Earth, there are already growing signs that our anthropocentric view of the world has begun to totter. On the one hand, human influence seems to have unbalanced natural processes to such an extent that their dynamics are becoming irreversible. On the other hand, scientific research and technological development are increasing evidence and indications that question a unique position of humans (for example, as the "crown of creation"), but on the contrary see them surrounded by many other - natural and artificial - intelligences. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and Deep Learning have become factors of our lives. They are there, whether welcome or not, acting, learning, evolving. They operate subcutaneously. We see a striking discrepancy between the direction in which people and societies are evolving, the world is changing, and the stubborn adherence to traditional, outdated models of life. What we need are better utopias. To improve them, we want to use the very technology that, depending on how you look at it, augments or threatens human intelligence: artificial intelligence. Whether we like it or not, we will (have to) communicate with it. 

For the radio opera, we trained artificial intelligences. Each of these agents formed on historical utopian texts across the centuries; in this learning process this material was thus continuously recombined, rewritten and improved. In the context of the "performance", human and artificial voices then discuss and interact, both interpreting the machine-generated texts. A musical-philosophical dispute about worlds of possibilities. 

The radio opera consists of four acts, set in the historical periods that provided the breeding ground for essential utopian thoughts and concepts: the Renaissance, Romanticism, revolutionary Russian Futurism, and the digital age. The historical materials used to train the AIs are: [Act 1] Thomas More, Utopia (1516, Engl.: 1551), [Act 2] Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818), [Act 3] Velimir Khlebnikov, The Trumpet of the Martians (with Maria Siniakova, Bozhidar, Grigory Petnikov, Nikolai Aseev, 1916) and The Radio of the Future (1921), [Act 4. Act] Donna Haraway, A Cyborg Manifesto (1985), Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, Spasm: Virtual Reality, Android Music and Electric Flesh (1993), and Natasha Vita-More, Transhumanist Manifesto (1983). 

But not only the libretto, but also the music was composed with the help of neural networks, and the musical parameters correspond to the styles of the respective eras. And so Performing Utopia is indeed a performance, as described in linguistics: Utterances that, by the fact of being uttered, change states in the social world. Here as cooperation between human and artificial intelligences. In the sense of a posthumanistic ecology, namely the realization that only intelligent networks remain capable of survival - regardless of whether humans are involved in them or not. 


Music and Text: alien productions [ Martin Breindl | Norbert Math | Andrea Sodomka]
Mezzo-soprano + speaker: Lore Lixenberg
Baritone + speaker: Johann Leutgeb
Speaker: Rosie Waites
Sound Engineer: Elmar Peinelt

Supported by a composition scholarship of the City of Vienna. Supported by the Department of Art & Culture of the Province of Lower Austria. 


By José Alejandro Rivera

Blue Ecology for Future Memory playfully imagines a sci-fi exchange between an anonymous user who sings in their sleep; an “empathy-trained” AI, the Isostasy Voice CompanionTM; and the Dinoflagellate Overmind, a bioluminescent, phytoplankton super-consciousness. The user’s hypersensitive experience of ultra-terrestrial contact in Puerto Rico becomes a whirling portal enabling the telepathic Pyrodinium Bahamense to enter, infecting Amber the TeleTher-pathistTM with the neurotoxin, Saxitoxin. In the expanded state of interspecies communication, the user receives messages through ancient, secret-containing eco-cultural technologies. The leaked session recording captures psycho-sonic knowledge transfer disruptions that are due to various system glitches occurring throughout the dynamic exchange, which is all of a sudden cut short.


Text, sound, and voice (user and Pyrodinium Bahamense) by José Alejandro Rivera (Proxemia).
Additional AI voices featuring Amber, #667777 (“Isostasy Voice CompanionTM”) and Cora, #653214 (“Isostasy System Default”) from speechgen.io.

by Francis Heery

Cascade is a delicate abstract soundscape, incorporating synthesized textures that evoke the sci-fi weirdness of bio-acoustic phenomena. Cascade was created using patches built in Max/MSP to generate quasi-random processes using impulses, delays, filters and drones. These were used as raw material for hours of improvisations, which also included live instruments. The recordings were then edited to create a finished work with echoes of H.P. Lovecraft, David Lynch, David Attenborough...


By Catalina Barroso-Luque and Feronia Wennborg

R-22 is an audio narrative collaboratively produced by flatmates Catalina Barroso-Luque and Feronia Wennborg for Wysing Broadcasts. The story follows Refrigerant Gas 22 as they make their way through the distinct environments in a fridge cooling system. R-22 is one and many, embodying both dark and jovial aspects of individual and collective existence. This domestic sci-fi tale was produced in quarantine using home recordings and samples of everything but the kitchen sink.

A BBC Radio adaptation of the Ray Bradbury short story for Narrator, Vocoder and Synthesizer by Malcolm Clarke.

The year is 2026. A lone house stands somewhere in a city ravaged and devastated by nuclear war, The house, fully automated, is deserted. .. its former occupants, a family, victims of the holocaust. Nonetheless, the house still stands ... and continues its daily routine...

Commentator ... Garrard Green
Voices ... Eva Haddon, Jeffrey Segal
Realized and produced at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop by Malcolm Clarke.
Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 11 May 1977.

by Astrid Bjorklund

In 2019, a new natural satellite was discovered orbiting our moon. Things have not been the same since.

One day you are here. And then suddenly you’re not here. You’re not anywhere. In An Oneirophonic Account of a Venture to the Second Moon a disembodied voice recollects its memories of a failed expedition to the satellite orbiting Earth’s moon: the second moon. This piece – part science fiction radio drama, part fragmented soundscape – weaves a sonic tapestry that attempts to explain what it’s like to be consumed by the unknown – something that words alone can’t describe – creating a narrative set outside time and reality.

Written, recorded and edited by Astrid Björklund.
Several voices in this work have been synthesised using ElevenLabs.
All things in this piece are fictional, except for the things that are not.


By Magali Daniaux & Cédric Pigot

With The diluted Hours, we are plunged in the heart/body of the artists’ seismic intentionality: the symbolical and aesthetic mutation of fantastical Sci-Fi becoming the demiurge of the wreckage of our time. A prophetic announcement of the cataclysm – far from being morbid, it radiates a spectrum of imaginary possibilities for our future struggles. But where there is a danger, what can save us also grows. The dissection of our ills becomes the mirror of a new body the audience will have to build like insolent architects.

by Omsk Social Club

Utopiates: The Freedom Cell is a real game play which features thematics of understanding acid as a primal technology. The work used the material substance of concentrated LSD to open up a collective performance of artificially induced virtual reality. The participants explored the collective mind made neurocosmic through social intelligence, technological extensions and radical holographic imagineering. The RGP was created by Omsk Social Club and the sonic recording cut up and sampled by Alexander Iezzi. The piece was commissioned by Cashmere Radio as part of Passages curated by Sarah Johanna Theurer.

By Nicky Stott and Nat Grant with Luc Yong

Terrania is a gothic-eco-drama podcast exploring gender-queer and disability in the face of climate catastrophe. This project draws on contemporary environmental realities to explore how (dis)abled, genderqueer bodies might be reimagined in dystopian and utopian futurity narratives. The podcast consists of a series of micro-episodes with a specifically composed music soundtrack. Listeners experience these otherwordly geographies through the perspective of dual protagonist viewpoints and a sonic environment that evokes hope in the face of impending doom. It locates (dis)abled, genderqueer bodies on the frontline of climate emergency. Terrania is produced on unceded Wurundjeri Country.

by The Xstatic Tics

The story is set in the year 2222. Dead Henk, a living corpse brought to life from a previous century (he died in 2121) is forced to be interviewed about his attempt to stabilize the world by introducing people to art. Was it due to his efforts that there are no more wars in 2222, that everyone has made peace? There are no more conflicts. Weapon manufacturers only make space ships. part of humanity is migrating to other solar systems although that is not really necessary; the earth is clean, pollution has been banned. The curiosity about dead Henk is great because with the disappearance of traumatic and conflict situations all forms of art are wiped out. Only the music has survived this genocide on the uncomfortable; after all, you must have something to listen to.

by Robert Barry

Sound artists, composers, improvising musicians, and primary school children are all asked the same question: What does the future sound like? Contributors include Odonola Ajibola, David Blandy, Jace Clayton, Johann Diedrick, Clare Douglas, Graham Dunning, Foxtrot Echo (aka Greg Taylor), Bela Emerson (& Miri), Sharon Gal, Julie Garton, Sylvia Hallett, Jukka Hautamäki, Steph Horak, Steve Lee, Neil Luck, Ian Mikyska, Hugo Morales Murguia, Stine Janvin Motland, Huong Ngo (with Yangchin Li, Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi, Luis Alvaro Sahagun Nuño), Ingrid Plum, Zoe Plumb, Alwynne Pritchard, Denean Rowe, Richard Sanderson, and Aino Tytti. 

by Vernon & Burns

A reimagining of a lost radio play from the 60’s by the Boots Amateur Drama Club, written by Boots Pharmaceutical Research Department worker and part time science fiction author, Peter Macey. In a short sighted commissioning decision the play was rejected by the BBC and was never aired. Production by Patrick Everest (of the Nottingham Co-operative Tape Recording Club) with significant interference and time distortions by Vernon & Burns.

by Toni Dimitrov

This radio art piece deals with the topic of utopia, giving critics on the degradation of the contemporary society in the context of a capitalistic system, and is giving a possible solution. It is an answer to the systematic pressure and a dream for a better world. It is inspiration for what we are aiming to, a better world, imagining a utopia in conditions of living in dystopia.

By Julia E Dyck

A sci-fi drama in five acts, Frequency Interference explores concepts of automation, posthumanism, and the relationship between identity and voice and looks into the unexplored potential of publicly accessible sonic infrastructures. Working with mentor Peter Meanwell, Julia E Dyck investigates the possibilities of implicating the listener in the active communal structuring and deconstructing of aural experiences. In her research-based work structured as a sonic sci-fi, Dyck addresses thematic inquiries that characterize and define the present moment: speculative identities, alternative kinships, and our connection to technology. 



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