No Fixed Abode


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As part of the wider Homeland research project, No Fixed Abode along with Charlotte Morgan and Cat Moir were invited to take part in the joint RCA and Goldsmiths curatorial project Acoustic Mirrors. Using our analogue transmitter, we broadcast two pre-recorded readings of a Kannitverstan (calendar story) by Johann Peter Hebel; one an original story in German; the other a machine translation into English. The calendar stories were very popular poems, rich in meaning. Ernst Bloch and Walter Benjamin both talk, directly and indirectly, about Hebel. In particular, we are interested in the short story 'Kannitverstan' (an abbreviated dialect version of German 'kann nicht verstehen', which means 'can't understand'). Philosopher Johan Siebers sums this up in his article 'Aufenthalt im Unerhörten: Bloch's Reading of Hebel (1926-65)': 'The crossing-over or semantic ‘Überschreiten’ can also be the fortuitous result of a mistake, and in that case, Hebel seems to be saying, we gain despite ourselves, as in the story ‘Kannitverstan (51–53). Here it is the mistaken identity of the rich merchant from Amsterdam, Herr Kannitverstan — another, now ironic, manifestation of the sameness of the ‘Merke’ — by which the protagonist of the story, the poor ‘Handwerksbursche’ is freed from a false attachment to material goods. The horizon of mortality, which breaks open every human situation, discloses itself to him. The story becomes a metaphor for desire’s false fixation on this or that particular object.'

Instead of directly airing our recorded piece via the internet radio transmission in the purpose built booth, we set up our little transmitter inside the exhibition space from which to fill the space of the gallery with our broadcast. Having placed a radio inside the booth near the microphone our transmission was lightly picked up and broadcast through an alternate media space traversing different broadcast vehicles.