Installation - 2022
Radio white zone
Encagement is a space empty of any telecommunication, a white zone inspired by the methods of protection of electro-sensitive people to create a preserved "bubble".
Based on the Faraday Cage1 technique, the construction of a wire mesh structure prevents the intrusion of radio waves. The cell phones lose contact with the relay antennas and become isolated computer terminals: no more phone calls, SMS, notifications or Internet connection.
Preventing this permanent connection makes it possible to free oneself from the toxicities linked to the use of these technologies: FOMO 2, stress, inattention... The addictive design of the applications that pushes us to frequently consult our phone is put in check.
We are also freed from the unwanted sending of sounds and images captured without our knowledge: the open microphones of Siri3 or OK Google that permanently transfer sounds, by mistake or by design, to the servers of GAFAM; the sharing of information about our location and activities by intrusive applications; spying by institutions or governments4. Encagement guarantees a collective "radio safe zone", a space of trust that frees us from the possibility of being spied on.
The wire mesh architecture acts as a mirror for the radio waves, reflecting them outside the exhibition space, it sculpts the surrounding electromagnetic field. This wire mesh is a powerful plastic element that suggests by its presence the usual path of the waves: they pass through walls, ceilings, floors and windows to make incessant round trips between the antennas and the phones. The presence of this metallic barrier makes tangible what usually escapes us because of our sensory inability to perceive the radio waves.
The title of the work - Encagement - is a play on the name of the police technique of encagement - or nasse - which aims to encircle the demonstrators. Here, paradoxically, Faraday's "caging" liberates.
1 : An enclosure constructed with a fine mesh metal screen that allows for the reflection of radio waves. See Wikipedia.
2 : Fear Of Missing Out : social anxiety related to the fear of missing an important event.
3 : Read for example this article from the Guardian.
4 : Among which the revelations of Edward Snowden on the illegal eavesdropping of the USA NSA agency.
Our urban spaces are saturated with radio waves5 : cell phones, wireless Internet, TV & radio, industrial telecommunications, air transport, geolocation signals... All these wireless communications use waves that propagate everywhere in the air, through buildings and bodies.
Cell phones accompany us in our travels by communicating constantly with private antennas with ultra-dense mesh and allow our voice calls, sms and Internet exchanges to circulate in the air: we are continuously connected to an electromagnetic environment that is omnipresent although invisible. How can we apprehend the effects of this permanent connection if we can't take distance from it?
More and more, the need for a digital detox6 - a cure for disconnection - is becoming apparent. Stays in isolated places where there is no access to the "network" are now coveted by Silicon Valley, while political questions are running through society: who decided and authorized the implementation of these networks in public space? Where will this technological development end?
The deployment of 5G, a new technological layer of radio waves, without any consultation with the public, has led to numerous protests and actions of resistance7. At the same time, Elon Musk and Richard Bronson are putting tens of thousands of satellites into orbit with a single objective: to cover the entire Earth with radio waves so that no territory escapes Internet connection.
How to question the use of the electromagnetic spectrum and its implications? Radio Art8, this artistic field that explores the characteristics of radio waves as an object and medium of works, offers analytical and sensitive tools to address this important social issue:
- look at the physical reality of waves to understand their propagation
- visualize the electromagnetic spectrum
- produce "radio sculptures", works that sculpt the electromagnetic space.
5 : See on this topic the work Radioscapes, side A : Malakoff, which reports on the radio landscape of Paris.
6 : On digital detox, read Le Monde of February 12, 2015: Digital detox, le jeûne des hyperconnectés.
7 : A summary of anti-5G sabotage actions in France can be read here.
8 : Towards a definition of Radio Art by Robert Adrian X.
évènement du 12 novembre 2022
Radio Grenouille Interview
Artistic Direction and technical realization : Nicolas Montgermont.
Event curating : Elena Biserna & Nicolas Montgermont.
Coproduction : Lab GAMERZ, Uchronies, La Labomedia.
Supported by : Dispositif Carte Blanche Région Sud
Thanks to Paul Destieu, Luce Moreau, Grégoire Lauvin, Clémence Seurat, Benjamin Cadon, K RYBN, Quentin Destieu, Manuella Machado, Darla Murphy, Cécile Beau, Sarah Brown.
Pictures : Luce Moreau & Nicolas Montgermont.