Radio Cineola: The Inertia Variations

The Day After - Konstepidemin, August 2017

An unknown man is projected onto a mattress, which makes his body seem strangely distorted. He is tossing and turning, seemingly in between sleep and wakefulness. We hear sounds, voices and information from the other spaces. Is he paralyzed by the constant flow of media? Is he dreaming?

Director and photographer: Johanna St Michaels

Actor: Jacob Sahlqvist

Sound: Matt Johnson


Summerhall, Edinburgh, June 2017

"EIFF 2017 will host a unique version of the exhibition that is being presented around the world to compliment The Inertia Variations. The creative team behind this breathtaking installation is comprised of musician Matt Johnson, filmmaker Johanna St Michaels, prize-winning architect Jacob Sahlqvist, lighting designer Kate Wilkins, and poet John Tottenham. Visitors will find themselves entering a space in which St Michaels’ film is conceptually transformed into a thought-provoking interactive multi-media experience with Johnson’s iconic Radio Cineola mast at its centre."

Relentless rolling-news and frenzied social media carve their messages deep into our minds, changing us: often instilling a sense of fear, confusion and powerlessness - suspending us in a state of inertia.

Even those attempting to convey an alternative message are at risk of simply being absorbed into this system and carried along with it - just adding to the ever-increasing cacophony of white noice.

This round the clock exposure to communications from myriad sources can also create a collective reminiscence that we confuse for our own views and memories. But where does this public life end and our private one begin? Are we sleepwalking into a digital dystopia?















The components of this installation are linked by cycles of time:

The poem - played out across one 12 hour day - is a meditation upon apathy, fear of failure, laziness and the tricks the mind plays upon itself in order to soften the pain when the inner life conflict with the outer world.

The political interviews - reflections upon democracy in our post-truth age - were recorded as part of a live 'midday to midnight marathon' broadcast that is featured in The Inertia Variations documentary.

The video installation - also taken from the live 12 hour broadcast - explores the malleability of time and truth, encouraging viewers to edit their own version of events from out-takes that rotate, clock-like, around a darkened room.

The tower sculpture is the symbol of 'Radio Cineola', an imaginary shortwave radio station influenced by shortwave broadcasts from the mid 20th century; propaganda tools for governments but also a powerful revolutionary medium for rebel forces. The tower is now placed 'underground' and cut off from daylight - and our circadian rhythms.

Project group

Matt Johnson / THE THE - singer, compose. THE THE was formed in 1979 by Matt Johnson. Projects over the last three decades have involved collaborations with filmmakers, photographers, painters, poets and writers as well as musicians.

Johanna St Michaels - documentary and art-film director. Her company, Saint Michaels Production, mainly direct and produce documentaries, experimental films and art installations with an emphasis on intensely personal stories.

Jacob Sahlqvist - architect. Jacob Sahlqvist is a prize-winning architecht from Gothenburg. His main work focus has been ecologically, socially and economically sustainable solutions.

Kate Wilkins - lighting design. She has produces designs that range from the playful and intimate to drama on a grand scale. Her best known work includes the opening of Tate Modern in London.

Radio Cineola - The Inertia Variations is an Anglo-Swedish collaboration inspired by the poem 'The Inertia Variations' by John Tottenham.


CPH:DOX, Copenhagen, Mars 2017

The art film The Inertia Variations, directed by Johanna St Michaels is shown at Kunsthal Charlottenborg.

Soundscapes and main character: Matt Johnson

Photographer: Johanna St Michaels

Editor: Johan Löfstedt

Text: John Tottenham, The Inertia Variatons


Spilld mjölk, Gothenburg 2015

A performance and video installation inspired by Johanna St Michaels experiences from the beauty industry and beauty as a modern commodity.

Written and directed by Johanna St Michaels and Karin Blixt.

On stage: Johanna St Michaels

Performed at Teater Trixter, Gothenburg and Arenan, Karlstad


The Inertia Variations, Konstepidemin, Gothenburg, December 2014

The installation at Konstepidemin features narration, soundscapes and music from Matt Johnson (aka THE THE) and visual art by film director Johanna St Michaels. All inspired by the poem ’The Inertia Variations’. The poem is depicted through ethereal, shadowy images, soundscapes and words, that can best be described as ethereal. The installation at Konstepidemin is also connected to a steel sculpture on the roof of Röda Sten.


Röda Sten art centre, December 2014 - April 2015

Radio Cineola - The Inertia Variatons

The installation features a nine metres high illuminated steel sculpture, placed on the roof top of Röda Sten art centre. It is inspired by the design of Moskow's Shukhow Tower which was commissioned by Lenin as the first radio tower to transmit across the Soviet Union.

The sculpture is the symbol av 'Radio Cineola', an imaginary shortwave radio station "broadcasting to every corner of the world" and also inspired by shortwave broadcasts from the mid 20th century; a propaganda tool for governments but also a revolutionary medium for rebel forces.

The installation is inspired by the poem The Inertia Variatons and is shown together with soundscapes and art film projected outside the art centre.

The installation is inspired by the poem The Inertia Variations by John Tottenham.

Art Film and Director: Johanna St Michaels, Music and lead character: Matt Johnson / THE THE 

Text: The Inertia Variations by John Tottenham, Light design: Kate Wilkins, Architect: Jacob Sahlqvist

Black smith: Lars Lincoln


      Titel: Matt Johnson, Johanna St Michaels, Jacob Sahlqvist and Lars Lincon
      Photo: Kari Janzen

The Male Gaze


Exhibition 2002, Konstepidimin, Gothenburg

The Escape

Two four year old boys escape from day care. One happened to be mine. The fear of loosing a child and the anger toward society and our government for doing cutbacks brought this happening along.

It was hung in april 2002 in Slottskogen and Masthugget, Gothenburg

Exhibit as photos, Konstepidimin, 2002, Gothenburg

Blue Woman

Photo, water, plastic,glas, iron
measurements 100cmx30cmx50cm

Tribeca Art Club, New York, 2000

The Human Machine

Dessau 1999

This exhibition took place in an old tool factory down town New York City. All the pictures were taken in the factory as well as the exhibition itself.