The Tower VS The Wall

Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles, a frequent participant of Documenta and Venice biennale, is a common resident of Tate Modern where he presented “Babel” in 2001. The tower made of 800 radios, each translating a different channel in a barely audible volume, is Cildo’s personal view of the biblical story that presents the inability to communicate as a beginning of all human conflicts.

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Different radio-station on each transmitter creates so called white noise of sound that as Cildo Meireles explained in several interviews reminds him of his childhood recollection of the dark room and very low-tuned volume of the radio behind the wall which is the lineal association of the misunderstanding of a child for him.

The bottom of the tower consists of first large samples made in 1920s and than to make the perspective of height the smaller ones mass-prodused electronic radios are used on the top, even nowaday models are presented. So there is a place for archeological research of the human memory as well as the research of the radio-transmitter as a time-based medium in art. Also this installation works as a personal act of memory, because some old radios could belong to your grandfather or your childhood memories.

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In another corner of our squared ring is Orbita Group Radio Wall installation for Cesis Art Festial 2012. The experiment with radio-transmitters of this text-based group of artists shows us the same old and new radios working with the opposite purpose. The sound of different fm-transmitters creates not the white noise as in Cildo Meireles installation but the music, the narrative. Different compact radios are set on the wall in the chaotic order and tuned to create the story-telling by the increasing and decreasing of volume of each recorded fragment so we can hear the crowd roar, some music tunes, anchor person’s greeting and the radio-opera consequential as in life.

So what we have is the canonical concept of meaningful and meaningless words, the ambivalent nature of a sound and hearing faculty and also the duality of the time-based media which can evoke very opposite feelings in different contexts.

Polina Brzhezinskaya

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