Active in cassette culture during the 1980s, his early works include Disorder Speech (1985), Display Wounds (1986), Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1987), The Pleasure of Ruins (1988), Writing On Air (1988) and Reptiles and Wildfire (1989). In 1991, RRRecords released a 7” vinyl record titled Vicekopf.
Selections from his early voice works, which he called “castaways”, were released on CD in 1993 by the Dutch label Staalplaat, who then released a CD version of his seminal experimental radio documentary, Dead Letters, which had first been broadcast in 1985. Two additional radio plays, Shake, Rattle, Roll and Degenerates in Dreamland were released on CD by the V2 Institute for Unstable Media in 1995.
Other works produced these years were widely anthologized on audio or radio art CD magazines such as Tellus, Aerial and Revista de Arte Sonora.
Whitehead collaborated with Christof Migone on the 1995 radio play, The Thing About Bugs, for New American Radio. Other radioplays from the 1990s include Pressures of the Unspeakable (1992), Nothing But Fog (1996) and Bewitched, Bothered, Bewildered (1997), which he produced for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Since 2000, Whitehead has produced numerous plays and documentary essays for BBC Radio, including The Marilyn Room (2000), American Heavy (2001), The Loneliest Road (2003), On One Lost Hair (2004), No Background Music (2005), The Day King Hammer Fell From The Sky (2007) and Bring Me The Head of Philip K. Dick (2009). The Loneliest Road and No Background Music (featuring Sigourney Weaver) both won Sony Gold Academy Awards.
Dead Letters was included in the sound section, curated by Stephen Vitiello, of the Whitney Museum’s American Century show in 2000, and his Mister Whitehead Are You There? was included in the Whitney’s Bitstreams exhibition of digital art, in 2001. His video installation, Delivery System No. 1, was shown at Location One gallery (NYC) in 2001, and his multimedia installation, The Bone Trade, was exhibited at Mass MOCA in 2003.
Whitehead has also been a frequent speaker at various conferences and festivals, including Radio Without Boundaries, Third Coast, Megapolis, Boundless Sound, School of Sound, and Airborne. He is the author of numerous essays on subjects relating to the poetics of radio space, and he is co-editor of a groundbreaking anthology of sound art and radio texts, Wireless Imagination: sound, radio and the avant-garde (MIT Press, 1994).
Awards and honors
1992 Pressures of the Unspeakable received a Prix Italia award.
1993 Shake, Rattle, Roll received the BBC Newcomer Award at the Prix Futura competition in Berlin.
1995 "The Thing About Bugs", special commendation, Prix Futura
2004 "The Loneliest Road", Sony Gold Radio Academy Award
2006 "No Background Music", Sony Gold Radio Academy Award
2015 "On the Shore Dimly Seen", short-listed for Prix Italia
- Jacki Apple, "Screamers", High Performance, Spring, 1992.
- Kristiana Clemens, review, Turned On, Tuning In, Musicworks #95, Spring, 2005, p. 53.
- Kersten Glandien, Art on Air. A Profile of New Radio Art, in: Simon Emmerson (ed), Music, Electronic Media and Culture (Ashgate, 2000).
- Thyrza Nichols Goodeve, "No Wound Ever Speaks For Itself" in Art Forum, January 1992, p. 70.
- Elisabeth Mahoney, review, The Loneliest Road, The Guardian, October 20, 2003
- Joe Milutis, "Radiophonic Ontologies and the Avant-Garde," TDR 40, no. 3 (Fall 1996): 70. 5
- Jon Pareles, review, "Five Concerts All at Once, And It's Quiet", New York Times, April 24, 2004
- Allen S. Weiss, "Purity of Essence", in Breathless: Sound Recording, Disembodiment and the Transformation of Lyrical Nostalgia, Wesleyan University Press, 2002
- http://somewhere.org/NAR/work_excerpts/whitehead/main.htm Bio article
- Allen S. Weiss, "Lost Tongues and Disarticulated Voices: Gregory Whitehead’s Pressures of the Unspeakable", in Phantasmic Radio, Duke University Press, January 1995, "", February 2, 2010