Charles Stankievech

OVERxOUT: A 5×5 Transmission


The OVERxOUT radio van transmitting at Pierce Barn, March 22, 2012. FBI listening Post was upstairs, in the attic directly behind the three small windows. Note Secret Service patrol car driving past.


A mobile listening station travelled to historically significant sites of the intelligence community across the District (and extended zones). The public was invited to listen to the stream of real-time radio signals captured in the ether above D.C., mixed by the artist using a customized equipment array.

Stankievech’s OVER x OUT project was active and mobile during the opening days of the 5×5 Project, March 20-25. The radio equipment array is now packed away and ready to be redeployed. It is stored, appropriately, in the same barn attic that the FBI used to eavesdrop on the Hungarian and Cxech Embassies across Tilden St. in Rock Creek Park in the 1970s and 80s.

In radio jargon, “5×5” describes the quality of communications, specifically the signal-to-noise-ratio.  It is equivalent to the expression “loud and clear”—5/5 for signal loudness x 5/5 for signal clarity.
As the first mass media ever developed, radio has played dramatic roles in our history. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “an informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will.” Radio can help facilitate an informed public through the dissemination of current events, expression of the arts and creation of a space for public conversation.
Washington DC as the center of politics in the United States is no stranger to radio and international conversation.  Since 1955 the government-sponsored Voice of America began broadcasting, among many programs, the classic Jazz Hour radio show. This program provided an important cultural beachhead of American values for listeners within the closed societies of the Soviet Bloc. 
Less known is that the Peirce Barn in Rock Creek Park was an art gallery during the Cold War.  Today an interpretive center for the National Park Service, the Peirce Barn is also in a neighborhood of embassies and the headquarters for global communications corporations.  While during the Cold War an Iron Curtain muted international conversations, today the international community’s desire for communication is a vital part of the dynamic location of Washington DC.  
With this exhibit, the artist intends to raise awareness of the history of the Cold War, and celebrate an international and open conversation on a broad range of issues based on informed listening. The shortwave transceiver on the desk in this room is constantly scanning frequencies broadcasted from transmitters all around the world. 


Follow the project and read about all of the transmission locations in the Washington D.C. area, including global headquarters of The National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Reconnaissance Office, as well as historic sites such as the D.C. Marconi Monument, AG Bell’s Volta Laboratory and Bureau, and the curiously named Deparment of  Terrestrial Magnetism.

Sample of shortwave signals intercepted and re-transmitted: 

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March 20-24, 2012 , 5:00

Complete List of Sites on Map.

Wednesday: DC Historic Electromagnetic

Marconi Monument
Volta / Alexander Graham Bell Lab 
Dept. of Terrestrial Magnetism
Voice of America
6:30 MARINA CantinaSuspension of Disbelief party curated by Steve Rowell.

Thursday: DC Intelligence

Pierce Mill – Art Barn
NIMA: National Intelligence Mapping Agency
Former CIA OSS bldg
FBI HQ: Hoover Building

Friday: Maryland, Crypto-Electro

National Cryptologic Museum
National Electronics Museum

Saturday: Virginia, The Companies

Freemason Scottish Rite of the District of Columbia
Central Intelligency Agency (CIA)

Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
National Reconaissance Office
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Fairfax

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