Muntadas (Barcelona, 1942) creates and develops his work in a grey area of the collective unconscious, the place where acts of communication take place even though they inevitably end up buried under layers of codes, signs and symbols.
In his 1938 work of natural theology The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, Charles Babbage, one of the forerunners of the information age, speculated on the possibility that all words ever pronounced throughout history were somehow recorded and continue to float in the air, invisible but waiting to be reactivated. Similarly, Muntadas’ videos, installations, photographs and publications seek to break down and lay bare one or more of the symbolic strata of our channels of information.
Through the meticulous observation of perceptual phenomena, of semiotics, censorship tactics, the opposition between objectivity and subjectivity (and many other binomials), the mass media and political hierarchies, Muntadas is able to reduce this huge epistemological exercise to a single term: “society”. Muntadas has, after all, engaged in an exhaustive analysis of society as an emergent phenomenon throughout his career. His socially committed reading requires active an interpretation from spectators that enables them to see and understand beyond the socio-political structures that have risen up around the act of communication.
Starting with his subsensory work from the early seventies, which Muntadas pinpoints as the real origin of his oeuvre – understood as a constantly evolving conceptual continuum – in this interview, the artist discusses several works that reveal the articulation of concerns and ideas in order to draw attention to particular details of the act of communication: the discourse, the medium, the message and the way it is understood.