Radio Terramoto

2013  //  Participation

A collaboration with Maile Costa Colbert and Rui Colbert Costa.




“Radio Terramoto” is a radio transmission soundwalk research and art project based on the idea of listening to sound from a past historical event, in this case the Great Lisbon Earthquake on All Saints Day, 1755. This is an audience immersive event in which a procession made up of the creators and audience follow a path from the Convento do Carmo down to the river in Lisbon, Portugal.
The sound design is based on research on the earthquake, using documents of both first-hand experiences and the first seismic and “earthquake” proof architecture that came after what may be the largest earthquake recorded in history, which destroyed a quarter of the city, from 10,000 to 100,000 lived, and beget consequential tsunamis and fires. The creators walk with the audience bearing a transmitter, the audience carry radios and cell phones tuned into the specific frequency of the transmission.


The “RadioTerramoto” soundwalk included hand-held sculptural octahetra created using a geometric framing system designed by Jake Dotson, assembled as a singular form approximating a Pombaline cage, the first modern earthquake resistant architecture. The radio transmitter, and other key electrical devices were suspended in these 1 foot3 (30 cm3) octahetra made of brightly colored sticks of wood held together with friction and tension. The large cage broke apart into the individual octahetra to aid in the transportation of equipment and in providing a visual wayfinding aide for the participants.


The sound weaves between the present and the past, and it is from this experience that we are interested in researching. The project and research looks into the question, what can listening to the past reveal about the now, both in artistic practice and scientific research?


Project made possible by funding from the Center for Cultural InnovationOSSO, and the Lisbon Architecture Triennale.