Distant Views / Culture Catchers, actived audio from distant places

Distant Views

Installed as ‘Distant Views‘ for the 2005 Boston Cyberarts Festival and subsequently as ‘Culture Catchers’ at the gallery G-A-S-P, the artwork made by Michael Sheridan is a sound installation consisting of a transparent glass wall where different devices hung creating an interactive multichannel acoustic experience. The exhibited devices required to catch and broadcast shortwave signals, like digital recorders and microcomputers, are hung by suction-cups and receive inputs from all over the world. The visitors movements activate the detectors and triggers sounds. The environment might be then filled with Persian music, Muslim prayers or Chinese news at once. The idea comes from an experience Sheridan had while producing a documentary in Eritrea. After two days of driving in a sort of forbidding African nowhere-ness, through a land devastated by war, he met two men, wrapped in rags, listening to shortwave radios. The sound emitted by their radio reconnected the artist to the world after days of isolation. Distant Views / Culture Catchers it’s a like a wall of sound made by an international stream of consciousness. It is tuned to more than radio signals and speaks about disorientation, connectivity and fragmentation, according to the main interest of Sheridan. As he claims, in his artistic practice he interprets “the emotional and psychological aspects of how people cope with life, finding the tipping point between stability and instability”. So the work looks like a digital Babel Tower, able to connect people instead of separating them.

Valentina Culatti