January 20, 2020


Fiona Soe Paing | Fiona Soe Paing, 50 | Zennor Alexander, 50

Audio/VideoTower Of Babel, 2016

This audio-visual piece references the biblical story of the Tower Of Babel, where civilisation has gone too far and tried to compete with God in building a tower to reach heaven. God punishes the people in response by confusing their language, and communication breaks down. In today’s world, in a state of crisis, where communication systems break down and language is no longer useful, we rely on symbols, signals and code as alternative methods of communication. In this work, the visual and sonic imagery includes semaphore flags, beacons, sirens and rapid bleeps suggesting a malfunctioning morse-code machine in a blizzard. As in the biblical story, languages are confused, with the lyrics sung by Scottish/Burmese composer Fiona Soe Paing in a mixture of English, Burmese and abstract, improvised sounds, the Burmese lyrics roughly translating to phrases including, “Look out!” and, “Please help me!” Throughout the video the viewer ascends the tower, higher and higher, careering ever faster and closer to the edge, before finally crashing towards the abyss. Now at crisis point, we are in a state of emergency – what is to become of us?