Magda Roszkowska, Bogna Świątkowska

It is our duty to experiment, said Alexander Rodchenko, one of the leading creators of the Russian avant-garde almost 100 years ago. His words can be considered as the credo guiding the actions of scientists, artists and thinkers of the last century, an era of intense experimentation in all fields of life, as well as one that witnessed huge technological advances. However, do his words still remain relevant for us today?
By identifying the notion of experimentation with a sense of duty to oneself and others, Rodchenko introduced to art a view that had been familiar to scientific practice since at least the era of the enlightenment. His precursor, Francis Bacon, a philosopher who lived at the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, one of the creators of empiricism, claimed that the fundamental aim of science was to free man from the shackles of nature and necessity. The means to such end should be not theory but experiment, for only experimentation, through experience, enables one to actually recognise the world. To rephrase the words of Rodchenko, one can say: it is our duty to experiment, because that's what makes man free. Regardless of how much the era of enlightenment failed in its hopes, faith in experimentation as a tool for world change stimulated activity in 20th century science and art.
One of the broadest definitions of experiment was proposed by John Cage in his book Silence. Lectures and Writings: the word experiment does not refer to an activity subject to evaluation or something that listeners might acknowledge as a success or failure; an experiment is simply every action whose outcome remains unknown. However, science and art refer to the element of experimental unpredictability in different ways. For art, exploring new fields of experience, seeking original form and content, challenging the prevailing rules, everything that is unknown, different or new, becomes an aim in itself. Whereas in science, where logic, laws and procedures prevail, experiments are conducted in strictly controlled conditions and the moment of unpredictability is merely a necessary stage on the road to confirming or rejecting the proposed hypotheses. Art is therefore attached to the vision of the experiment understood as a single or collective experience of an unrepeatable event. For science, however, an experience gains an experimental value only when the procedure is repeated many times. Thus, from the outset, science endeavours to neutralise the unpredictable. Up to this day, technological progress remains its key ally in this pursuit. The fascination with innovative technical solutions has also affected artists who, in experimenting with new tools, have uncovered completely new ways of communing with the world. A problem arose when the new technologies become synonymous with experimentation in art, because the means replaced the end. Their mass use today, has trivialized, to a great extent, what used to call experimental practice. So in order to diagnose our current condition, it is worth reviewing the wealth of past experience, and extracting the essence of its creative force. We found it interesting to research such experimental practice, in which creative activity is combined with the orderliness borrowed from scientific research procedures, while remaining in close touch with the reality beyond the gallery or laboratory.
In this respect we owe a lot to Eugeniusz Rudnik, the engineer, sound producer and composer, an unusually colourful figure associated with the Polish Radio Experimental Studio from the very beginning.
The phenomenon of the Studio as a collective creative entity, is interesting from the point of view of the complex relations between the creator and performer during the creative process and between the notation/score and how it is experienced/performed. We focused on what is contradictory: precision, measurement, , accuracy and control over the tools combined with intuition, chance or the exploitation of what is not useful. We wondered how an experiment could be captured, passed on, registered, and then reproduced so that it could help shape the present and the future.
We present a selection texts dedicated to the Polish Radio Experimental Studio part of them are printed here for the first time, including a complete list of works recorded in the Studio. This is the first publication in book form, in which texts about the Experimental Studio have been gathered together we would like it to be a contribution to further, more in-depth research and a more comprehensive study of the subject.

A separate section of the book constitutes a lexicon of experimental practices involving the collective creativity of artists, philosophers, cultural researchers, art and music critics, film experts, sociologists and scientists. The lexicon is not a complete or exhaustive presentation of the subject of experimentation; on the contrary, it is a peculiar constellation of fragments, remote perspectives and contradictory phenomena. The alphabetical arrangement of terms is a parody of rational order; in reality, instead of taking the reader down well-beaten paths, we want to lead him astray to inspire him and awaken his critical potential.