Valerie Tevere and Angel Nevarez

Empire MHz (2009)

Since the first broadcasts from its antenna tower in 1931, the Empire State Building has served as an architectural wonder of Modernity, a symbol of capitalism, and a very tall mast for radio and television broadcast. Within the realm of artistic practice, it was Andy Warhol, who in the mid-1960’s created, Empire, a black and white filmic meditation that framed the buildings facade as a continuous and unedited film reel. Thus, the monumental scale of the Empire State Building has both shaped symbolic meaning for artists and functional attributes for broadcast. The transmission signal strength (and its reach) is dependent upon the location of the antenna relative to the ground – the higher the antenna is placed, the greater its signal travels. Therefore, the vertical reach of the Empire State Building had historically made manifest new means of mass communication.

We were once given a private tour of the 103rd floor of the building, the closest point a body can be situated near the tower without becoming radiated by the radio frequencies (RF) emitted from the antenna above. Originating from this site, signals and electronic pulses resonate across urban space. The broadcast tower, and its relationship to communication across a massive bio-geographic area, sets into play a circuitry of information and mass culture.

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