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The floating ear

How sustainable are borders? How do we distinguish between what is private and what is public? How do boundaries get shifted? It’s safe to say that new technologies play a crucial role here, resulting in an increasing demand for cameras, search engines, drones, etc. However, the usefulness and relevance of all this massive amount of data is short-lived. Dutch artist Ronald Meulman has been engaging with this topical theme in an artistic way.


An ear-shaped, helium-filled air balloon that can be remotely controlled has been fitted to sound equipment, and is floating in the public space above an area where people are gathered together.
The ear has a cross-section of more than eight metres and via a microphone it receives all the sounds coming from the ground with extraordinary accuracy. This data is in turn broadcast live to another location, giving the impression that the recordings and the site to which the sound is being sent are one and the same.


This is not a top secret operation, because the public has been informed via flyers and decides for itself whether to take part in the recordings. The ideal location for the spectator/listener is the spot on the horizon where the Floating Ear can be seen and the recorded sound can be heard. What the artist is creating is a surrealistic experience offering the spectator room to freely interpret this ‘information exchange’.


Presentation
During the opening ceremony of the GrensWerte World Exhibition on 21 March 2014 at the Kloster Bentlage in Rheine (Germany).

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