angueliki garidis

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

1)the serpent

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.

2) ouroboros

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 of information.

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 desired.

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 Manifesto)

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)

Angueliki Garidis


© 2002 Angueliki Garidis trans. Zoran Milkovic.