contemporary art, sound art

Fedora Romita, For Informational Purposes Only (2010/11)

February 22, 2012

In all the guidebooks available to Berlin, you are unlikely to find one which recommends making audio recordings of your journeys on the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn.

But that is the method used by Fedora Romita to orientate herself in a new city. And this results in one CD for each of the five lines U1, U7, U8, S1 and S42.

The beauty of the work is its minimalism. It was exhibited at the Meter Room with just discmans, headphones, lists of stations, plus a couple of print outs of the network.

Plugging in to the rumble, PA and chatter of public transport in Berlin and looking down at Midlands buses in the rain, it was easy to imagine yourself 600 miles away.

(And as a local friend points out sometime later, it so happens bomb-scarred Coventry and the onetime German capital have got some history between them.)

It comes as a surprise to find that sound provides such a strong sense of orientation. So what appears as a somewhat whimsical exercise is really quite effective.

Those lacking in imagination or unwilling to suspend disbelief might claim that Romita is just pretending to use scientific method, or doing make believe geography.

It works though, so you would have to go further and say perhaps this is real geography, or even science, which always requires such an element of fantasy. Without it, information is quite useless.

This work was seen in The Mobility Project at The Meter Room, Coventry. Show closed Sunday. Check out Romita’s website for sample tracks.

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