Sound Installation [Project 5]

Sound Installation [Project 5]
(100.67 Mhz) a Self-Radio Station Broadcasting

For one week, The artist has listened to a popular Egyptian radio station for six hours a day, ran it through a mixer, and edited what he heard to reflect whatever word or concept was the most repeated in a given hour (such as the Coca-Cola slogan, for instance), formally reflecting underlying patterns in the sound. The resulting track was then retransmitted at a frequency very close to that of the original broadcast, so that anyone with a dial radio could easily have mistaken Mostafa’s pirate broadcast for the legitimate commercial one.

This small-scale, subversive infiltration into a tightly regulated mediatic sphere partakes in the informal economy of media consumption that flourishes in Cairo (the informal “sharing” of radio waves, satellite dishes, and so forth). But it radically increases the agency quotient of the participants in that the artist anonymously transmits sounds of his own creation, and shares them with his immediate community. The confusing, disjointed nature of Mostafa’s transmission would irk the accidental listener right out of his or her passive consumption of what the artist considers to be a potentially “brainwashing” media,  and spur the listener to make a conscious decision to either turn the dial or keep listening. Those that stayed on Mostafa’s dial thus unwittingly become part of a small-scale micro-public, while the artist himself is reduced to the spectral hand of the DJ—although the accidental listener hears Mostafa’s highly subjective interpretation of a public broadcast, he or she is not aware of his involvement, or even his existence.

“Project 5” thus subtly highlights the oversaturation of commercial media in daily life; the politics of passive, forced, or unwitting consumption; and, perhaps most profoundly, the potentially redemptive ability of technological mediums like radio to allow strangers to penetrate each other’s lives, in such a way that the isolating fissures of urban experience can be virtually sutured back together.



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