Ghost Attractor

FAMA | R. Morellet, T. Villani, V. Lapolla, E. Sauer
at MOM ART SPACE, Hamburg


Two works for this exhibition about ghosts. See the press release here

listening to EIAR loudspeakers, Addis Ababa, 1940 or I2AA

print on paper, wood panel,  raspberry pi, sdr dongle, display 3.5”, balun, antenna 41.7×28.6×5 cm – 2020

When the general Badoglio’s fascist troops entered Addis Ababa in 1936, they took possession of the radio station inaugurated by the Ethiopian Emperor Selassiè I the year before. The station became soon the communication and propaganda center of the new fascist empire: under the guidance of the EIAR (Ente Italiano per le Audizioni Radiofoniche, the public service broadcaster in fascist Italy) and the Press and Propaganda Office, the station (called I2AA on shortwave frequency 9.65 Mhz) was added to those already operating in Somalia and Eritrea, to cover the whole Horn of Africa.  Ethiopian radio licenses were banned while loudspeakers were placed in the markets and squares of Addis Ababa.
listening to EIAR loudspeakers, Addis Ababa, 1940, is the caption of a photograph that portrays a group of Ethiopians listening to loudspeakers of the propaganda of the Italian regime. This photograph is accompanied by a software defined radio device set to receive on the same frequency of I2AA, while a screen shows in real time the spectrogram of the sound signal thus captured. A spectrogram is a graph that represents the spectrum of frequencies of a signal as it varies with time.
The search for ghosts through technical devices has a long history: from photography onwards, traces of them can be found in light, telegraphic, telephone and television signals, and obviously also in radio signals. This work, which continues a series of works started in 2013, adds to the spectra that can be searched in the Ether also those of colonial history.


Wie bitte?

in collaboration with Kinkaleri; audio recording Nicola Giannini

Audio track, electro dynamical exciter on window glass – variable size – 2016-2020

The performance Dancing in the dark, 2009, where some dancers danced completely in darkness, is the starting point of this audio installation. Ten years ago the performance was actually an experiment to understand what would remain of the moving body by removing the possibility of seeing it. At the end of the performance some things remained in the memory: the thermal sensation of heat and wind, the smell, the sound, and some faint glare that the eyes believed to recognize. A second work followed in 2014, where the recordings of the sound of body movements of the dancer Enrico Labbate led to the Eco sound installation.
A new step came from the encounter with the project All! by the group of dancers and artists Kinkaleri. The group has indeed developed a code that translates each letter of the alphabet into a corresponding gesture of the body, making possible a real translation, at the same time literal but free in the way of performing it, from text to dance.
Thus, with the help of the musician Nicola Giannini, an audio track was generated from the body sounds of a dancer who danced, or rather spoke, according to the language so defined, the sentence “Come prego?” (“Wie bitte?”). By detaching the sound from its physical reference, what remains indeed is a trace that you can’t no more decipher with the help of the code, a signifier without signified, an high information entropy message. What matters however, just like when the soul detaches itself from the body to become a ghost, is the obstinate need to communicate, to establish a contact.


 image of the attractor by Thierry Dugnolle, distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license