Radio Island

a meditation on Japan



In Buddhist architecture, the pagoda symbolizes Nirvana, the state of enlightenment. In Radio Island this metaphor is expanded to include the entire built environment and the whole of ordinary consciousness. Mutating images of ancient and modern Japanese structures develop within a complex electronic score of radio signals and data transmission. Unusual editing techniques weave these images and sounds into a dense field of improvisation. The resulting texture becomes the raw material for totally new forms. Through a sea of noise, Radio Island charts a course from architecture to music; from the referential to the absolute.

Radio Island is also designed as an installation for a single monitor or as a pagoda of vertically stacked monitors, each displaying the same source (premiered at The Kitchen in 1998). An exhibit of video stills from Radio Island is also available for exhibition.


Direction, production and primary postproduction by Van McElwee on all works.