Razor Wire Modem
Martin Reiche’s, Razor Wire Modem, illuminates the damaging social and environmental effects that fences create when used as a means to exclude people. Utilizing the technology that enabled telegraphy, microcontrollers were placed on the barbed wire allowing the barbed wire to become a conductor. A receiver modem picks up the impulses sent by the microcontrollers and filters the signals to translate the impulses into readable text messages. (martinreiche.com) Reiche transferred The Universal Declaration of Human Rights through the razor wire fence, a poignant document that was created after the atrocities of World War II declaring equal human rights for people of all races, geographic and political backgrounds, (un.org).
Razor Wire Modem was created in activist response to a policy implemented by the Slovenian government to manage refugee migration from the Middle East, (total-croatia-news.com). The Slovenian government erected a razor barbed wire fence along the river that divides the country’s border from its neighboring country Croatia; in an effort prevent refugee migrants from entering Slovenia outside of the immigration gate. Although there have been no reports of migration trespassers since the fence was installed, the hazardous wall has mangled several animals and injured children, (martinreiche.com). Many species of animals in the region are facing threat of extinction from the razor wire wall, unable to navigate the mesh of sharp razor blades impeding their food sources and migration patterns, (theguardian.com). Locals report that the fence has gaping holes that are easily passable by humans. There’s also a nearby bridge people can use to avoid the fence altogether, (theguardian.com). The refugee migration of 2015 has come to a close, and yet the fence remains. Slovenia even has plans to expand the fence further along the border, evident of the country’s policy of political nationalism and exclusivity.
Razor Wire Modem is an empowering and proactive project that transforms the intent of razor wire as psychological intimidation into a means of communication. Reiche poetically changes the message of hostile exclusion when creating an infrastructure used to transcribe respect and community. In this process, the senselessness of the broader fence becomes even more acute.
The project raises awareness of the systemic issue of immigration dissension and the tactics used to create divisiveness between groups of people. Razor Wire Modem calls attention the dynamics of the Slovenia Croatia border and the ongoing conflict between the regions. Slovenia’s antagonistic policy exemplifies the growing issue of political nationalism that is trending in several European countries and the United States. Martin Reiche’s artwork speaks to several countries that are attempting to create divisiveness toward others through walls and barriers. It reminds us of the harm these barriers have on the welfare of wildlife and the damage it does to our relationships with neighboring countries and the world. It’s a powerful reminder that creating barriers we not only excludes others, but we also isolate ourselves.