Radio Kootwijk – The Netherlands, 2023. 

Klankvorm commissioned the soundwalk for their Sensing Signals event, a project that focuses on experiencing the invisible world of signals arounds us.
Set to take place in and around the monumental Radio Kootwijk building, artists were invited to create artworks inspired by the former radio telegraphic transmission station.

During my research on Radio Kootwijk, I learned that the architect Julius Maria Luthmann was fascinated by Egyptian mythology. As a sign of this fascination, the main building (building A) has been designed as a Sphinx, the Egyptian guardian and protector of mysterious architecture.
The architect also adorned the building with two main symbols: the mask above the entrance, symbolising the face of the Sphinx; and, the eagle at the back of the building, symbolising the wings of the Sphinx.
Those two sculptures are the most evident references made by the architect to the Egyptian mythology, but to my great surprise, not the only references.

While developing the storytelling for the soundwalk, I came across numbers of similitude between the electric particle travelling on long radio waves, and the journey of the God Sun Ra.

In Egyptian mythology, the God Sun Ra travels each night to the Underworld in order to fight the chaos of the dark, and bring light and order back to the world. The electric particle, like Ra, is an emissary of light that travels into the dark underwater to face the challenges and chaos of natural forces; and, whose mission is to bring encoded information to the other side of the world via radio signals.

“When Julius Maria Luthmann was asked to design Radio Kootwijk, the great architect did not leave any details unthought. Far from it.

The architect was aware of the importance of constructing the radio transmitter, both practically and symbolically. His ambition was not simply to leave a legacy as the revolutionary architect who built the first concrete Brutalist monument. His personal ambition was to conceive a grand architectural vision that would give life to his fascination for Egyptian mythology.  And so, he meticulously constructed building A as the heart of the transmitting system, and, as the protector of the operation.”

Extract of the soundwalk – Track 1. 

Designed to be experienced through headphones, the soundwalk is divided into three tracks of approximately 20 minutes each.
The visitors can switch between the three channels on the headphones in order to listen to the different tracks.

Track 1 (channel 1) takes the form of an audio-tour that reveals the amazing connection between the architectural design of Radio Kootwijk and the Egyptian mythology. Drawing parallels between the journey of the Sun God Ra and electromagnetic particles, the audio tour exposes the depth of vision of the architect Julius Maria Luttmann and the symbolic dimension of Radio Kootwijk.

Track 2 (channel 2) is the metaphorical soundscape of Ra’s journey to the underworld: sound of electromagnetic waves and signals traveling through the darkness of the night.

Track 3 (channel 3) is the metaphorical soundscape of Ra’s return and the awakening of sunrise at Radio Kootwijk.