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CINEMA 3
Institute of Contemporary Arts
October 2022
Signal to Noise, Christina Shelagh Mongelli, UK 2021, 10 min. 44 sec. 

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Signal to Noise is a reorientated acoustic ecology of interwoven and competing natural and artificial sounds; a rhythmical ‘tale’ of birdsong and human whistled languages where northern / southern European, rural / urban references merge. Its various dialogues between clarinet and violin, machine and organism, and ‘signal’ and ‘noise’ echo an allegory of hierarchy and domination relating to politics and sound.

The sounds of birds in London – that started singing at night in order to be heard due to background traffic noise – are woven with whistled conversations from the Canary Islands and disrupted by wind turbines and fireworks. The latter represent the new ‘divine’, a human-made dominance in the acoustic environment; a whistling noise created with ‘intellect’ and ‘science’. These fireworks dominate wildlife and force birds into flight. Some, not meant to fly at night, unable to navigate properly, risk getting killed in these unnatural instances of forced flight. The synthetic whistles of fireworks exploding into deep and howling bomb-like sounds are contrasted with the high pitched utterances of birds and codified whistled languages that are also endangered by their digital equivalents in communication media.

The sound piece traverses morphing soundscapes that exist between fiction and reality, euphony and dissonance.

To my cariad Joseph; your song lives on.

Credits