Soundbytes – Part 1

0oldenbuuuur.jpgLast week i took the train to Oldenburg. That’s a 3 and a half hour journey from Berlin. I checked the Soundbytes exhibition at the Edith Russ Haus, briefly saw the city (“briefly” was enough i think) then, back. Yes, that’s another 3 and a half hour train trip. But the exhibition was well worth the bother.

Julian Opie‘s Escaped Animals, street signs with hedgehogs, squirrels or cats painted on them, are installed since 2002 at the entrance of the Edith Russ Haus. Good, put me in a merry mood straight away.

The starting point of the exhibition are mobile communications media and the new horizon they offer: be they mobile phones, the internet, wireless LAN or GPS, mobile media enable the listener to perceive everyday situations acoustically in a new way, overlapping electronic acoustic sound and data spaces, for example.

Soundbytes takes a look at the way artists are using these technologies to explore sound materials (especially those we cannot hear), develop innovative electronic acoustic concepts and create installations.


The space is not huge but it is big enough to comfortably host 9 pieces on two levels. First stop: the groundfloor.

The most striking work there is Yunchul Kim‘s (void)traffic which translates codes of a data stream into in waves of activity – with increased activity, the waves grow higher, and vice versa. ASCII signs and tones form an ever-moving organism that reflect the operations of the server in real time. This highly-aestheticised representation of the ongoing traffic of digital information is enchanting enough on its own, i sat there a while before feeling the need to look for a piece of text that explained what i had under the eyes.

0aavoidtraffi.jpgChristina Kubisch was presenting some Electromagnetic Soundwave recordings and visuals.

In her ongoing Electrical Walks project, Kubisch wears specially designed headphones that capture electromagnetic signals from the environment and convert them into sound that she uses to create compositions. Magnetic Nets, for example, is composed from recordings of anti-theft gates of major shops around the world. The sounds (heard at Esprit, Gap, or H&M) are alike or very similar all over the world: globalization is manifested in security sounds. The more expensive the shop, the more aggressive and heavy the sound. Kubisch also discovered that the security gates at the entrance of some smaller shops are fake (via leonardo).

Visitors can get one of her those headphones and wander around the exhibition space to listen to the electromagnetic signals that surround them.


Other pairs of headphones are also available for people who fancy a walk around downtown Oldenburg. The artist has previously mapped the most interesting sound places of the city. Visitors are invited to collect, burn on a DVD and take home those EM sounds.

The sounds will in turn be used by Christina Kubisch and Lutz Pruditsch, known as Tarkatak, for their music performance on Friday, 13. April, 8 pm. They will mix them live with their own recordings in a concert of neon advertising, security devices, mobile phones, automated teller machines, or electric devices.

I am not sure that i understood fully what Carl Michael von Hausswolff‘s installations were about. The woman at the entrance was not speaking a great english and i’m way behind my plans to learn german in 5 days without effort. There was a radar drawing and projecting on the wall an abstract luminous image that continuously changes.


Here’s what the press release said:
For Carl Michael von Hausswolff, delicate interference in the grid or disturbances caused on the paths of communications technologies are formable raw material he can translate into acoustic and visual terms. His take on them can be heard in installations RADAR und SPIRICOM and at his concert “Circulating over Square Waters” on March 2nd 2007.

At the Edith Russ Haus in Oldenburg, extended until April 29.
Flickr set. Image on top: micromusic, Lowtech music for hightech people.

Related: Invisible Geographies: New Sound Art from Germany, an exhibition about the “physical” topography of sound at the Kitchen in New York.