Through the Soundproof Curtain. The Polish Radio Experimental Studio


The Polish Radio Experimental Studio (PRES) was founded in Warsaw in 1957. Its establishment had also symbolic value, as it became a major platform for freedom of expression within the Eastern Bloc. The studio became an exclusive space for creative autonomy. Along with the »Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music«, PRES was the only platform that enabled exchange, inviting guests from the United States, Western Europe and Scandinavian countries.

Thanks to state-of-the-art technology and two qualified, experienced engineers, the Studio could meet the needs of composers representing various backgrounds, encouraging research into tape music in particular. Nevertheless, the Studio was not devoted exclusively to producing independent electroacoustic pieces, but was also used to create musical »illustrations« for movies, radio and television. In fact, creating incidental music, as well as what today we would call sound designing for various media, was officially one of the Studio’s main tasks. That meant the electroacoustic experiments in Polish Radio’s headquarters in Warsaw deeply influenced not only the development of art music around Europe, but also changes in the popular culture and imagination throughout the Eastern Bloc.

Subsequently, the Studio was expected to develop into an interdisciplinary institute of new media. The members of the PRES continually attempted to spread and promote new forms of music, organizing lectures, producing series of radio broadcasts and publishing papers on the subject. It became a laboratory also for visual artists and designers such as Oskar and Zofia Hansen, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Kazimierz Urbański and Józef Robakowski.

The exhibition will present PRES as an institution oriented towards audio-visual experimentation, constantly looking forward. Being influenced by visual arts and happenings, artists and composers, the PRES managed to establish a new language that is open to the listener’s interpretation.