Henrik Rylander – Public Loudspeakers, Information & Disinformation

Henrik Rylander

Kning Disk, ISBN 9789197666701, Sweden, 2007, English
Henrik Rylander is an artist, musician and photographer. This work is a large format book of photographs of loudspeakers taken in the three largest Swedish cities (Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö) with an accompanying CD. Loudspeakers are revealed as they are: an almost invisible presence, embedded in the urban concrete. In their short history they have been conceived as a centralized broadcasting system, an instrument in the hand of power, meant to channel propaganda into public squares (during the German’s Reich) or straight into private houses (the radio infrastructure of Stalinist Russia). Selected quotes alternate with pictures and reinforce the historical and social role of public loudspeakers, indirectly posing the question: are they doomed to become a relic? Or even worst, reinforce the CCTV surveillance system? Scanner’s famous “Publicphono” performance, which used a public speaker system on the seafront of Rimini, broadcasting over 20 kilometres of beach, helped prove that it could be the opposite. This little-known low-fi audio infrastructure could be reappropriated as a precious potential common. Last but absolutely not least, the audio track is a beautiful spatialized ambient drone with stratified levels of sound that lasts a bit less than an hour. It may seem like a complex juxtaposition of field recordings, obtained from the situated loudspeakers. But it’s something completely different. In fact it’s a completely synthetic output obtained by manipulating the .tif files of the photographs using various software. A perfect conceptual couple, definitively adding “information and disinformation”.