Zoran Todorovic : _Noise (Sum)
1998/1999, video, black-and-white, sound, 23 min
by Zoran Todorovic
The video work Noise (Sum) was recorded with a specially designed "visual messages recording device" left in three different locations: the Belgrade Plato square in front of the Faculty of Philosophy [during Summer and early Fall 1998]; a Belgrade psychiatric hospital, more precisely in the closed department where [women] patients are hospitalized on court decree; and the Sremska Mitrovica prison, where long-term pains are purged. The three stages define the three parts of the film, which itself was made, after applicable editing and authorities-in-charge censoring, out of the database of recorded statements, stories and performances left by those who were willing to use this "open camera". The device itself can be pictured as a hybrid of a security camera and a street instant-photo automate. A security camera was mounted in a metal protective chest, equipped with a switcher allowing a 15 seconds recording time. The "passer-by" could read the prompt "What is in your throat?" before pushing the button but was otherwise unable to place such a device in any recognizable recording context offered, for instance, by a TV camera, film camera, police surveillance camera and the like. At the same time, this meant that users of this device were compelled to contextualize its use themselves, i.e. to produce a context from which a story would be told, a show played, etc. The film consists of three consecutive parts, each in accordance to the place the respective recordings were made; it seeks to explore in what measure and in which way different social positions influence the production of the context from which a person speaks. Obviously, the social map is more complex than that, and the number of possible positions could increase indefinitely. However, in each story told or face taped we are able to recognize a broader social landscape from which the person originates. These three positions are therefore only taken as borderline situations or points of orientation in which the entire social field can be marked off. At the same time, this film does not pretend to represent the speech of different social groups, avoiding to find itself in the very position it is criticizing. This is an important point to understand, as it constitutes the very vehicle of this work, which is the problem of social representation, or, more precisely, the system of social representation was the external motivation, incitement and theme of this work.
In the world as we know it today, the system of social representation is entirely determined by the state and/or other political or economical trusts, and we have a familiar system of mouthpieces, leaders, journalists, officials, representatives and interpreters virtually taking over our living speech and speaking on our behalf. And the entire public, political and media domain today functions according to this principle, which is a way to keep these domains under control. Capturing the live voices of different social groups, especially the ones commonly considered as marginal, deviate etc., the usual system of representation and more precisely the concept of the representative [official interpreter, leader, journalist, expert etc...] is addressed. This camera was designed on the very purpose of bypassing the usual connotations of a camera as instrument of public discourse, coded by the State and/or other political or economical centers of power, and thus motivated by this coding.
There is also another issue addressed: in a specific media of its own, this work treats the problem of the inadvertent or incidental which is a topic I am dealing with in my work in general, and which is also an issue of the society of control, the society like the one we are all living in. Only, there are different motivations to this common interest. Thus, noise does not pretend to represent but rather lets out a murmur into the coded system of social representation by offering each voice, including the lowest one, the opportunity to be heard.
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