A unique audio installation that uses the water of the Thames estuary to receive sound. Created for the Estuary Festival 2016 and made in collaboration with digital innovator, Tony Churnside.
Radio waves are usually picked up using a metal aerial and then converted to an electric signal which is played through speakers. Thames Water Radio uses a jet of Thames water to carry the signal instead. It plays a twenty-minute piece called ‘What the River Told Me’, which is broadcast over a traditional FM signal and then received by the saltwater radio.
The antenna is installed on the deck of LV21, a bright red lightship moored at Gravesend. Visitors are invited to take a seat on the artwork and listen to the piece as they watch the seagulls and tankers pass by.
Every day, people all along the estuary come to commune with the Thames. A retired man who once dreamed of going to sea eavesdrops on the radios of ships floating down the river. An older lady describes the excitement of running across the beach for a swim. A widower stops to talk to his dead wife. The river hears it all – a liquid receiver running through the landscape for millennia.