Infonoise is an interactive installation, the result of an international
on-line collaboration. Gordana Novakovic (*1), living in London, is the
author of the concept. Zoran Milkovic developed the software and hardware
design from Belgrade. Rainer Linz, the composer and sound software designer,
lives in Melbourne, Australia. The installation was premiered in Cultural
Centre Rex in Belgrade, May 2001.
I. the installation
A projection, based on a painting by Gordana Novakovic, is projected by 6
video-projectors over a fibre-glass semi-transparent sculpture of a Möbius
strip 8m in diameter. The image spreads over the never-ending loop of the
strip. The projection is multi-layered and also consists of regularly
updated newspaper headlines from all over the world and a wire-shaped form
of ouroboros. A soundscape consisting of electronic music and voices in
several languages moves through the space via 12 speakers. The sonic
elements are based on noise as a generative force. Interaction between
audience and installation is accomplished by the use of motion sensors.
The system "attempts to capture an impression of totality of motion in the
space" rather than following respective trajectories (*2). The projection
gives an impression of movement and the strip becomes animated as if it
were a living organism.
II. symbols and metaphors
The figure of the serpent or serpentine forms (akin to lianas gliding
through the water, penetrating sunken architectures...) have been a
significant leitmotiv in Gordana's paintings.
The serpent is a complex figure with multiple symbolic meanings in which
pairs of opposites are integrated (day/night, good/evil, life/death,
male/female.). A symbol of primordial energy, figuration of original
chaos, maternal archetype (related to the godess of the origins in numerous
cultures...) the serpent is a polyvalent figure.
For Jung, the serpent personifies the obscure psychism - the unconscious.
The dreamscape presents the individual unconscious of the artist and her
inner world, but also offers the collective unconscious through the
archetypal elements that she uses. It is an equivalent of the collective
unconscious that she is searching for through the Internet and her
installations, in an evolution which has passed from still images (canvases)
and moving images (videos) to interactive installations where the audience
is an integral part of the work.
In Gordana's installation works, the serpentine shapes have evolved into
the shape of ouroboros - the serpent that bites its tail. This symbol
represents, in an animal form, the cycle of "perpetual return". In
"Infonoise" the idea of perpetual return, the idea of a repetition of
events related to a cyclic vision of history, is represented through the
use of newspaper headlines from all over the world as an element of the
projected image and as part of the soundscape. That evokes the idea that
history, or rather the vision of history, repeats. Stereotyped headlines,
clichés. As the title "Infonoise" says: informatics noise, but also a noise
3) the möbius strip
The choice of the Mobius strip, a mathematical form and symbol of various
meanings has a specific evolution in the author's work. The artist has
progressed from the shape of the serpent through the more specifically
symbolic shape of the ouroboros, to an abstract form, the form of the Möbius
strip - a mathematical symbol, a figure which is formed when a strip of
paper is twisted by a half-circle and the opposite ends attached together,
thus creating a figure with no right or wrong side - with only one face: a
figure symbolizing infinite motion. The figure contains the idea of circle
and perpetual return, but also of the unconscious. Likewise, Lacan in his
seminars frequently uses the figure of the Möbius strip that he likens to
the borromean knot. (*3) The Möbius strip the "...outside [of which]
continues its inside." - allows Lacan to evoke the unconscious. The
unconscious and conscious, but also the real and the virtual are intimately
related, like the frontal and the reverse sides of a Möbius strip.
The metaphor of the unconscious in Gordana's work traverses from the
serpent via ouroboros to the Möbius strip. From the sculpture of the
Möbius strip as an "autonomous organism"- the serpent is not far away.
In making the audience participate, as much within the installation as
through the Internet project (online theatre), we can see an attempt to
create a collective "thought" that could evoke the philosopher Pierre
Levy's words when he speaks about Cyberspace as of a space where ideas
unite in a "dance of angels". But rather as a question of "non verbal"
communication and a collective motion, than a gigantic brain.
The participation of the audience - the substance of the installation - has
something in common with ritual, and can therefore be compared to the
theatre; to a "metaphysical" theatre perhaps, as described by Antonin
Artaud in his manifesto "The Theatre of Crualty", an important source of
inspiration for the artist.
The idea of "theatre" exists as much in the installation as on the Internet
site - appearing as a theatrical performance for internautes. In this
"theatre" immersed into computer "noise", Antonin Artaud's manifesto seems
to have found an electronic double.
The Möbius strip, a quasi-organic shape with a multitudinal projection,
acts as an active and passive actor at the same time, receiving visual
information and transmitting it to the spectators, in the same way that
it receives motion information from the audience, who themselves set it
Hence it creates an "integral" spectacle, in a "unique place" where
spectators and spectacle are in "direct communication", as Antonin Artaud
Primordial sound follows the serpentine motion of the projected image.
The authors have "followed the structure of the canon and the analogy
between the interactive installation and polyphonic music. Different
subjects are developped simultaneously: the sound, voices and noise as
polyphonic elements." "The intention wasn't to speak out words, but to
create vocal elements for the sound." This idea likens to the one of
Artaud when he claims, in the first manifesto, that it is necesssary to
"brake theatre's subjugation to the text and rediscover the idea of a kind
of unique language somewhere in between gesture and thought" (*4), and
further that "theatre can still derive possibilities for extension from
speech outside words, the development in space of its dissociatory,
vibratory action on our sensibility." (*5). (The Teatre of Cruelty, First
The sound invades the space of the installation, it penetrates the
spectator. In the same way, "the theatre of cruelty", according to Artaud,
"...uses vocal vibrations and qualities, wildly trampling them underfoot.
It pile-drives sounds. It aims to exalt, to benumb, to bewitch, to arrest
our sensibility." (*6)."To give words" - Artaud says - " something of the
significance they have in draems". (*7). Images from a dreamed world
projected on the Mobius strip are acompanied by words that seem to emerge
from an oneiric universe.
Electronic music mixed with human voices and noise are again evoking Artaud
appealling to "new instruments": They need to act deeply and directly on
our sensibility through the senses, and from the point of view of sound
they invite research into utterly unusual sound properties and vibrations
which present-day musical instruments do not posses" (.) "Reserch is also
nedeed into instruments and appliances based on special refining and new
alloys which can raech a new scale in the octave and produce an unbearably
piercing sound or noise (*8).
Sonic vibrations mix with vibrations of light, in a total spectacle, where
spectators and spectacle are integrated.
Another allusion, an analogy between Artaud's text and the Infonoise
installation: the poet uses terms that could be applied to the Möbius
strip. In one of his "letters on cruelty" he writes that "true death has
no place in all meanings of an enclosed, circular world"and that "Good is
always an external facade but the inner facade is evil" (*9). In the
"Second manifesto", he writes :" both the upper and lower strata of the
mind will play their part. The reality of the imagination and dreams will
appear on a par with life." (*10).
In front of the bright Möbius strip installed in the black bow in which the
audience moves, the last Antonin Artaud's quotation imposes itself on us:
"In our present degenerative state, metaphysics must be made to enter the
mind through the body".
Note 1: Antonin Artaud: Collected Works, Volume Four; John Calder, London, 1999 (p 68)
Note 2: ibid. (p 68)
Note 3: ibid. (p 69)
Note 4: ibid. (p 72)
Note 5: ibid. (p 73)
Note 6: ibid. (p 79)
Note 7: ibid. (p 95)
Note 8: ibid. (p 76)