Spectres of Shortwave

Film projection
July 4, 2018 at 7pm
Facebook event

Spectres of Shortwave / Ombres des ondes courtes

35mm film transferred to digital, 5.1 surround sound
1 hour 53 minutes, 2016
Originale version : English/french

Subtitles : French/english


Spectres of Shortwave / Ombres des ondes courtes is a body of work about radio waves, relationships, landscape, and loss. Long before the internet, there was shortwave radio, and for 70 years, a mysterious web of radio towers dominated the Tantramar marshes of New Brunswick. Meanwhile, local residents heard radio broadcasts in foreign languages, emanate unexpectedly from their fridges and toasters. This body of work explores tales of technology, personal relationships, military strategy, and strange sounds from household appliances.

The Radio Canada International shortwave site was built during World War 2, to broadcast to Europe and Africa. Located in Sackville, NB, it was perfectly positioned to transmit across the Atlantic Ocean, and covered most of the globe with its transmissions. It continued to broadcast around the world during the Cold War, not only for Canada, but also relaying transmissions for Radio Free Europe. Only 20-30% of the world has access to the internet, and many authoritarian regimes censor the internet in their countries. Shortwave radio is affordable and accessible to everyone, no matter what their geographic or financial situation. Shortwave is an objective source of news and information for people in many countries, because it cannot be blocked or censored. Canada was one of the last democratic voices on shortwave radio, and in 2012, RCI stopped broadcasting, and the site was dismantled in 2014. I was the only person present to document the dismantling of this international communications site, and I have incorporated that documentation into a series of image and audio based works.

This series began with an experimental documentary film focused on the flat marshland landscape accompanied by stories told by local residents and the technicians who worked at the site. This landscape film contains no images of humans, and it is structured over four seasons and ends with the demolition in winter. Images were filmed on 35mm and many of the sounds were recorded by placing handmade contact microphones on the towers themselves. The soundtrack of the film also functions as a radio art piece and has been transmitted as an international shortwave simulcast whenever the film has screened in theatres.








Amanda Dawn Christie is an interdisciplinary artist working in film, video, performance, photography, audio, transmission art, and electronics.  Hailing originally from New Brunswick, she has lived and worked in Halifax, Vancouver, Amsterdam, Sackville, Moncton, and now Montréal.  

Since 1997, she has been actively involved with artist run centres, in both volunteer and staff positions: serving on various boards, working as both a technician and later as a director, teaching workshops, publishing articles, and serving on juries across Canada. She has exhibited and performed in art galleries across Canada, and her films have screened internationally from Cannes to Korea to San Fransisco and beyond. Concepts and themes explored in her work focus primarily on the relationship between the human body and analogue technology in a digital age. 

Her most recently completed works include an experimental landscape film about shortwave radio towers, called Spectres of Shortwave / Ombres des ondes courtes, (which is accompanied by various radio simulcasts, photo series, and sculptural installations), as well as a large scale performance called Requiem for Radio: Full Quiet Flutter (which involves an interactive scale model of the RCI site played by 3 musicians, a 5 channel international shortwave simulcast, and constructed instrument interfaces played in 13 movements).   

She recently moved to Montréal where she now continues her art practice while working as an assistant professor of Intermedia (Video, performance, and electronics) in the department of studio arts at Concordia University.