Britta Evans-Fenton, 99 Red Beacons, Galerie SAW Gallery, Roaming

Britta Evans-Fenton, 99 Red Beacons, Galerie SAW Gallery, Roaming

99 Red Beacons picture

A Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau & Galerie SAW Gallery commission. Funded by the Ontario Arts Council.

99 blinking red balloons tour the city, each with a Morse code message from a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. Inspired by the Cold War song 99 Luftballons, “99 Red Beacons” plays with the military influence on invisible form of communication.

The Millennial Generation witnessed the birth of commercialized Internet and has grown up immersed in a digital world. Given our dependence on the web, it is hard to fathom that this largely invisible form of communication that surrounds us—alongside GPS and digital photography—was originally developed through Cold War military funding. “99 Red Beacons” takes its inspiration from the Cold War protest song 99 Luftballons, which expresses the power and influence the military had at the time. This work showcases the impact that wireless communication has had in making the world a smaller place. Using 99 anonymous messages written by Canadian Armed Forces members and transcribing them into Morse code, I am able to create wandering orbs of wonder. Like these balloons, one can imagine the millions of messages floating through the air en route to a phone or computer destination, a phenomenon made possible by military innovation.


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