Research project and sound installation by Gilles Aubry
The installation Hi-Fi Borders is the result of an artistic research on green border areas between the Canton Jura in
Switzerland and the Territoire de Belfort in France.
Since the Schengen Agreement in 1990 and the removal of systematic border controls between most of the EU
countries, the borderline in the Jura-Belfort area has become less signifcant. Consequently, many customs houses have
been closed down and replaced by green borders, that is border crossings which are not regularly guarded, nor fortified.
Various original and historical representations of this particular inland European border are presented in this work,
along with audio fles recorded on location with a Surround Sound setup.
While green borders are usually described in terms of transparency (Falk), the auditive perspective proposed here rather emphasizes their contingent character. In giving a good account of the sonic atmospheres of these locations, the
recordings stress at the same time their rather ordinary character, and, indirectly, suggest that they could have been
captured at many other places, possibly outside of the EU.
When considered in relation with images of the mediated drama of migration at the EU outer borders, the border
dispositive of the Schengen Agreement appears as an agent of surveillance and exclusion, instrumentalized for the
purpose of the restrictive migration politics of both the EU and Switzerland.
In a similar operation, Surround Sound technology, as direct extension of the concept of Hi-Fidelity in sound reproduction,
has been idealized as “vanishing mediator” and intrumentalized for commercial purposes (Sterne 2003). By presenting Surround Sound technology outside of its usual context, that is the dark room of movie theaters and other virtual reality dispositives, and by breaking the spatial illusion effect with the use of refexive strategies – the audible presence of the author to stop the recording, a fly landing on the microphone producing a disturbing noise – the installation Hi-Fi Borders is constantly trying to direct the listener’s attention on the arbitrariness of the reproduction process itself.
The borders mentioned in the work’s title are thus not only to be understood as category of geographical locations
which are being reproduced here, but alternatively as kind of borders which are sometimes necessary to draw in order
to enable a critical distance by the observer.
Hi-Fi Borders has been presented at the Swiss Art Award exhibition in June 2010 in Basel, Club Transmediale 2010 in Berlin, Musée jurassien des Arts de Moutier in 2013.