Signal—Germany on the Air | Chicago Reader

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Ernie Gehr's powerfully affecting 35-minute film (1985), shot in Berlin, seems more documentary in style than much of his work, presenting ordinary views of a street intersection and an empty lot. But meanings emerge from beneath the surface: the European streets curve as if they might twist back on themselves, jaywalking barriers become little prisons, and the empty lot is revealed as the site of a former gestapo headquarters. Recordings of Berlin radio and the city streets are combined in a sound collage, the uneasy mix of visual and auditory images rendering the city a huge, incomprehensible machine.

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