Francis Hunger (b. 1976, Dessau, Germany; lives Leipzig, Germany)
wood, shortwave transmitter, antenna, radio
31 x 150 in
Numbers stations—shortwave radio stations characterized by a synthetic, often female voice reading out lists of numbers—first emerged after World War I. Widely assumed to be a simple method for governments to communicate with undercover spies (although no broadcaster or government has ever acknowledged their operation) these stations proliferated between the 1960s and 1980s—the height of the Cold War—but were eventually made obsolete by cybernetic computing technologies, satellite communication, and the Internet (ironically, products of the Cold War itself). Hunger locates the “victory” of global neoliberalism in precisely this shift from binary calculation and transmission to networked computing—a shift stalled by the former East due to apprehensions about open flows of information. Transmitting a coded (potentially decipherable) text created for this exhibition, this numbers station commemorates a historical moment in which even covert information necessarily existed in the public realm.
Text by Stamatina Gregory.