Cildo Meireles ‘Babel’

Babel (2001) is a big sculptural installation that can be seen at the Tate Modern. The piece is shaped as a circular tower made by a multitude of second-hand radios from different generations playing together at their minimum volumes; the radios are also tuned to a variety of different stations creating a continuous and incomprehensible cacophony of sounds (especially when there are not many people inside the room). The installation is narrative and it’s related to the biblical story in which the god was offended by the outrageous action of building a tower tall enough to reach him, causing him to make the builders speak in different languages in order to avoid communication; this event led the workers to a separation, also it became the source of all human conflicts. The tower is placed in a large blue-painted room that enhance the feeling of disarray expressed by the piece. One of the most interesting facts about the piece is that the constant noise is generated by human voices speaking from the radios, not by instruments or radio’s feedback, so the room seems to be crowded (it actually is during the weekends) and it’s not possible to distinguish a singular voice, unless you get a bit closer to a singular radio. Also this installation is different everyday, because the radios are always receiving from the stations they’re tuned in, creating a flow in which the communication looses its proper meaning to acquire an opposite one: confusion.

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