“HIDDEN WAVES”, 2023
Every Thursday until Sunday
Hourly 14:30 to 18:30, duration approx. 15 minutes
How can the often abstract concept of electronic current be made more tangible? This question is the starting point for artist Christina Kubisch and the site-specific works she has developed for The Sound. A sound pioneer, Kubisch has been working with electromagnetic fields and how they can become perceptible since the 1980s.
HIDDEN WAVES was based on the real-time transmission of current fields through special sensors that made the normally inaudible electric fields acoustically perceptible. For this purpose, there were eight bronze-colored outdoor loudspeakers at the technical facility on Mehlpfad, which were connected to the sensors via a circuit.
In each of the approximately 15-minute transmissions of live sounds from the transformer station, field recordings from other transformer stations from Asia, Africa, Europe and the USA were gradually mixed in. Christina Kubisch recorded these sounds with her special equipment over the course of the last ten years.
Thus, sounds from Monheim were mixed with current fields from, for example, Las Vegas, Douala, Bangkok, Oslo or Tokyo and resulted in a dense and intense composition of electric-magnetic sounds, which, despite their similarity, produced a rich field of musical variations.
The recorded sounds of the electric fields were faded out again at the end, leaving the direct transmission of the magnetic fields from the substation in Monheim.
The substation on Mehlpfad is a central part of the city's power supply network and connects different voltage levels. The sound artwork HIDDEN WAVES offered an opportunity to explore this place in a very special way before the substation will soon be relocated to the outskirts of the city.
In another part of her work for The Sound as part of the HIDDEN WAVES project, Christina Kubisch directed perception to the sound of autonomous minibuses.
In February 2020, the city of Monheim am Rhein became the first German city to launch an electric bus line with five fully automated vehicles that shuttle over two kilometers between the historic old town and the central bus station. The minibuses have room for twelve passengers and are fully integrated into the regular bus service.
In one of the five buses, visitors were given special electromagnetic headphones that Kubisch had specially made for the purpose. These made the complex electronics and digital controls in and around the bus audible, with the sounds changing and sometimes reminiscent of science fiction film music.
The complexity of the digital technology and control system that goes into this vehicle is also acoustically diverse, giving an idea of how many computer networks are needed to support the cameras, sensors and diverse apparatus that guide the vehicle safely through the city. Since these also consume a great deal of electricity in the background, the question arises at the same time as to what the relationship is between elaborate computer-based developments and ecological progress.
Christina Kubisch lives and works in Berlin. From 1994 to 2013, she taught as a professor at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar in Saarbrücken, where she founded the “Sound Art” department. Since 1997 she has been a member of the Music Section of the Academy of Arts Berlin. Her installations, compositions and audiovisual works are realized worldwide at international festivals and shown in museums and galleries. She has received many prizes and grants for her work, most recently the Venice 2021 Music Biennale Prize for Best Premiere and the ZKM Karlsruhe Giga-Hertz Prize for Lifetime Achievement.