Will Self broadcasts an imaginary archive of modernist radio and discusses the influence of modernism today.
In a secret laboratory underneath the BBC archive there is a small room containing a special machine. It’s a BBC prototype “RP-1 Ethermatic remitter”. An experimental machine designed to retrieve (“remit”) past radio signals back out of the air. Although partially successful during field trials in 1922 it was never made fully operational … until now.
Will Self has been given access to the machine to investigate the relationship between early radio technology and modern culture. Taking his cue from the Wasteland and Ulysses – both published as the RP-1 was developed – he will be drawing from the air an assemblage of modernist art and ideas using the very technologies that enabled them. In doing so he hopes to create something that isn’t simply about modernism and its after effects but is itself a modernist work.
Around these, Will has conducted a series of conversations at the South Bank Centre and Brunel University with leading cultural thinkers such as John Gray, John Carey and John Mullan about the value and use of Modernist ideas now.