Move So That I Can Hear, sound installation, 5 radios, 5 motion sensors, dimensions variable
This installation was shown in 2015 as part of the group exhibition Stimulating Synapse curated by Branko Franceschi on the northen part of Nicosia, Cyprus.
In 2018 it was shown again at Nimac, southern part of Nicosia, as part of the group exhibition The Presenve Of Absence, Or The Catastrophe Theory, curated by Cathryn Drake.
In Cyprus, each ‘side’ has its own radio stations each broadcasting in the Greek or Turkish language respectively. Consequently and because of the island’s small size, one can receive signals from both ‘sides’.
Based on this, the installation consistes of radios tuned to various stations of both ‘sides’, each connected to a motion sensor. The motion sensor is placed at a distance from the radio and when activated by the movement of someone (potentially a Greek or Turkish Cypriot) the radio is turned on. It broadcasts to a language, the potential receiver can or cannot understand.
The system underlines that both communities exist on the same land. An action / movement of one person affects someone else or a group and it is up to the receiver how to translate it. So, the same source can yield to different responses.
Eventually, radio signals cannot be stopped at barricades
– how free are they? -E.Phyla
Artist Eleni Phyla’s interactive installation Move So That I Can Hear was inspired by a realization she had while driving on the south side of Cyprus when the car radio spontaneously tuned in to a Turkish-language station, broadcast from the “other side”: radio signals cannot be stopped by barricades and so each culture can still infiltrate the other side of the border. Visitors will activate radios as they move through the space past various transmitters, the language of the broadcast determined by physical proximity rather than the identity of the listener, reflecting the rambling reach of the ripples of culture. In that light, isn’t a nation really a borderless phantom? “We all lived together perfectly fine until the invasion,” the artist says. In fact it is the distance introduced by physical division that causes the gap in communication and understanding. Because the receiver may or may not comprehend the program or where it is coming from, any gaps in understanding are filled with preconceptions and even paranoia sustained by lack of access or proximity to the other culture. The peril, and the paradox, is the illusion of the free flow of information: the means of transmission is in the hands of those with the political power to manipulate the perception of the other, and most of all the state. Yet attempts to control populations and secure borders largely backfire, resulting mostly in desperation, misunderstanding, rage, and violence. The fact is that, like radio waves, humans have always relied on freedom of movement to survive; it is the stopping that causes conflict and the need to keep the others out. -C.Drake