Cry Wolf   

Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland, 2001
Part of Transience: Sound in the City
, curated by Rita Leppiniemi, Michael Madsen and John Wynne


John Wynne

"John Wynne's Cry Wolf dramatically increased the nervous pressure by occupying the space with a series of specially constructed 'false alarms' that provoke a new appreciation of the city as one (in)tensely saturated by unstable electronic signals."

Angus Carlyle (The Wire)


Cry Wolf made use of a set of auditory warnings designed from scratch (that is, they are not samples of existing alarms) in order to explore the borders between ignoring something because we hear it all the time and listening attentively because it signifies something directly and urgently applicable to us. The work also suggests that there is an abstract beauty in alarms normally ignored because of their potent ability to annoy us. The title refers to the 'cry wolf syndrome', whereby operators in high-risk environments such as airplane cockpits and nuclear power plants begin to ignore alarm sounds because of the sheer frequency of false and relatively unimportant alarms. 

The only visual element in this exhibition was the grid of 25 speakers installed on the huge central wall of Helsinki's stunning Museum of Contemporary Art. The movement of multiple tracks of sound across the grid and through the space was defined by each artist and controlled by the Sound Gallery's automated diffusion system brought to Helsinki from its home in Copenhagen.

The other artists in Transience were David Cunningham, Jem Finer, Disinformation, Patrick Kosk, Mikko Maasalo, and Oivind Weingaarde.