Thursday, June 2, 2016


Just a short walk from St. Paul's Cathedral, one can come across the Tate Modern. The gallery houses modern and contemporary art from around the globe. In exploring it's 5 floors (restaurant floor excluded) you will find all forms of art ranging from paintings to sculptures to photography. In traversing the gallery's maze-like halls, Cildo Meireles' Babel stood out to me unlike anything else in the museum.

Babel by Cildo Meireles (2001)
Cildo Merieles - Brazilian artist

Added to the Tate Modern in 2013, Babel consists of radios from different periods within the 20th century. As the height of the tower increases, so do the radios' modernity. The lower part of the tower is made up of analogue radios from the 1920's while the top of the tower consists of the more portable radios one would find in the early 2000's.
What stood out to me was the fact that each one of the radios was tuned to a different station. The result: Incomprehensible babbling with jumbled background music playing in the background. The ever changing nature of the broadcastings and the art piece itself ensure that each viewer/listener will have a different experience. Additionally, as you walk around the tower, you will hear changes in the overall "mix" of broadcasts as some become fainter and others stronger.
The tower was inspired by the biblical story of *surprise surprise* The Tower of Babel. In the story, civilization is constructing The Tower of Babel which is meant to reach the Heavens. God however, sees this as a problem so he causes all of the builders to speak a different language as to impede them from finishing the tower. Unable to communicate any further, construction stops as they go their separate ways to different parts of the world. It is at this point in the story where all of mankind's conflicts begin.
"Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." - Genesis 11:1-9
 The reason I chose to write about this piece is because it reminds me of the current world we live in. We live, essentially, in a world that never shuts up. The media constantly bombards us with messages as do those who surround us. While not a bad thing, we are always listening to someone. It could be the TV, the radio, family, friends, a loud neighbor, or even ourselves. We get so many different messages and points of view, it really does feel at times like it is just all mere babble.

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