Sonic Acts XIII Artists and Installations

The thirteenth Sonic Acts Festival in Amsterdam is entirely dedicated to the exploration of space in performative and audiovisual art, film, music and architecture. Sonic Acts XIII – The Poetics of Space examines the importance of physical space in times of far-reaching technological developments, and the physical and psychological impact of spatial designs. The exhibition at the Netherlands Media Artis Institute comprises spatial audio-visual and interactive installations, classic video art, light sculptures and sound works that explore different ways of experiencing space.

Works by: HC Gilje, Carlo Bernardini, Ralf Baecker, Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntag, Yoko Seyama, Jacob Kirkegaard, Nan Hoover en Steina Vasulka.

Hans Christian Gilje
Blink (2009)
HC Gilje’s Blink investigates how audiovisual techniques and light can transform, enlarge, enhance and interpret physical spaces. The critic Mitchel Whitelaw wrote about Gilje’s work that it strives for presence: ‘a way of knowing the world that is characterised by intense moments of encounter or revelation – aesthetic experiences that place us in the world, and of it, rather than observing from the intellectual distance of interpretation. The beauty of Gilje’s work though is that it not only suggests this prospect, but demonstrates it, makes it happen; and in that sense the work is constructive, rather than critical. In emphasising the specificity of media technologies, Gilje’s work shows us a different way to frame those technologies; as always material, always in the world with us.‘ HC Gilje (NO) creates installations, live performances and videos. He was also a member of the videoimprov trio 242.pilots.


Jacob Kirkegaard
Labyrinthitis (2007)
Labyrinthitis relies on a principle that when two frequencies of a certain ratio are played into the ear, additional vibrations generated in the inner ear, so-called ‘distortion product otoacoustic emission’ or ‘Tartini tone’, will produce a third frequency. Jacob Kirkegaard’s (DK) work focuses on the scientific and aesthetic aspects of resonance, time, sound and hearing. His installations, compositions and performances deal with acoustic spaces and phenomena that usually remain imperceptible. Kirkegaard uses unorthodox recording devices to capture and contextualize hitherto unheard sounds from within a variety of environments: a geyser, a sand dune, a nuclear power plant, an empty room, and even sounds from the human inner ear itself.
Commissioned by Medical Museion in Copenhagen, Summer 2007


Ralf Baecker
Rechnender Raum (2009)
Rechnender Raum is a light-emitting geometrical sculpture made of sticks, wires and small pieces of lead that is simultaneously a fully functioning neural network. The functioning of the machine is completely transparent, but it carries out its computations only for itself, concealing the results. Ralf Baecker (DE) builds kinetic installations and sculptures that deconstruct the fundamentals of symbolic processes.


Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntag
GAMMAvert #2 an X-seascape (1998–2006)
A photograph of a seascape, developed using uranium nitrate, a substance that emits gamma waves. The room is flooded with standing waves and a monochrome green glow, formed by a single light frequency, an allusion to the famous ‘green ray’ described by Jules Verne: a flash of green light that, on rare occasions, appears on the ocean horizon at sunset. Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntag (DE) has an academic background in instrumental music, fine art, art history (new media), music theory, composition, philosophy and cognitive science. He has mostly focused on site-specific installations based on sound and biomass but also specifically on monochrome gas discharge light.


Carlo Bernardini
The Light that Generates Space (2010)
A sculptural light installation made of optic fibres that takes over the space and passes through walls, combining the external and internal environments in a single mental drawing, creating a place where light generates space. Carlo Bernardini is an Italian artist who makes abstract light installations using, among others, optical fibres and electro-luminescent materials.


Yoko Seyama
Light Work #6: In Soil (2009)
Light Work #6: In Soil is an installation inspired by the life of cicadas. Cicadas are known for their transparent wings and high pitched buzzing, they live underground as nymphs for most of their lives, feeding on root juice and using their strong front legs for digging. One summer day, the nymphs emerge from the soil and climb up a branch to metamorphosize. Yoko Seyama (JP) is a scenographer and media artist. She concentrates on scenography for time-based art and combines digital materials (video/photo) with real materials (fabrics/paper/elastics), processing these into spatial installations.


Nan Hoover
Impressions (1978, 10’24’’)
A long, narrow streak of light falls across the screen, a hand plays through it. Now the volume of the hand breaks the light, then again the light remains intact. The spot of light becomes an object that can be lengthened by means of the index finger. It is almost as if the finger is drawing a ray of light. Nan Hoover (US 1931–2008) started experimenting with video as an extension of her painting practice and as a documentary medium in 1973. Her videos often explore a visual ambiguity between the body and the landscape, or between abstract and ‘natural’ forms.


Steina Vasulka
Somersault (1982, 5’30’’)
Somersault is an exercise in the phenomenology of vision and the redefinition of space. Steina Vasulka uses mechanized devices to generate an artificial vision that alters the viewers’ perceptions and spatial perspectives. Steina Vasulka’s (IS/US) video works are considered landmarks in video art. The pieces often treat the video signal as a plastic medium, and rework the space of the video image in ways that alter the viewer’s optical perception of the image, confounding the ability to distinguish between two-dimensional and three-dimensional space.