Seismographic Sound mounted a kaleidoscopic investigation of music’s power to anticipate change and inspire possible futures.

Curated by the Norient network and based on more than twelve years of researching contemporary global sounds, the exhibition and publication involved contributions by 250 scholars, journalists, bloggers, musicians and artists from Bolivia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Switzerland and forty-six other countries,

Exhibiting the internet

Exhibition view: Stereo Types, Urs Hofer

We developed a modular exhibition architecture, based on the topology of a funfair, to bring the experience of digital overload, competing online platforms, and the joy and dread of getting lost or finding unexpected gems to the exhibition space. Urs Hofer’s media installation Stereo Types welcomed visitors with an endless video flow using algorithms to detect thematic and formal relations between over 2000 source videos collectively curated by a global group of bloggers, musicians, journalists and scholars from Norient’s network.

Audiovisual playtime

Detail: Podcast station

Effortlessly merging celebration and serious investigations was perhaps the show’s most significant achievement.

Visitors were invited to wander and get lost, browsing hours of playtime through different audiovisual spaces. Three semi-enclosed-video-booth, a virtual debate, fifteen podcast stations, an audio-ufo featuring a massive archive of interviews and bonus playlists, an algorithmic video wall and a cursing skunk inhabited the show.

Videos, Podcasts and Mixes

Contributors from the Norient network curated more than 2000 music videos for the show and created podcasts, audio features and mixes for the exhibition. Below a small sample of videos from one of the exhibition’s Youtube playlists, a Soundcloud playlist of Seismographic Sound podcasts and three remixes each dedicated to one of the themes that loosely organised the show (Money, Loneliness, War, Belonging, Exotica and Desire).

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We wanted club-level bass and focused listening.

Model, semi-enclosed video viewer
Working closely with the audio scenographers from Hands On Sound, we recreated the audio-visual overload experience of multiple sounds and videos vying for attention while also allowing browsing, dancing and concentration, all in one space.

The show featured twenty-eight sound sources that were orchestrated in a 100-minute loop plus hours of additional podcasts, features and playlists. Treating the exhibition as a kind of spacial orchestra, each attraction had moments of silence, interaction and solo performance within the loop. Exhibition architecture and responsive sound design produced an intense, time-coded, modulated soundscape.

Modular design for wildly different venues.

From a warehouse in Hamburg’s harbour, the turn of the century villa of Aarau’s Forum Schlossplatz, the vast Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe, the KKB Kunstraum Kreuzberg Berlin and the CTM Festival, to the medieval Castlegrande in Bellinzona where a crane airlifted us across castle walls to Milano’s BASE and the Kornhausforum in Bern.

The exhibition toured for over three years in Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Designed for the road, it packed Tetris-style into a forty-ton lorry, ready to be set up in a few busy days. Comprised of freestanding ‘attractions’ that don’t require wall mounting or floor feeding.

Seismographic Sounds on the road
Modular Exhibition Layout: Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland

Press

Wenn der britische Popkritiker Simon Reynolds in seinem Buch Retromania schreibt, er ‹glaube nicht, dass irgendeine Musik im Museum funktioniert, einem Ort der Stille und Etikette›, so kann das für die Ausstellung im Berliner Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien nicht gelten.

Julian Weber and Jens Uthoff, TAZ

Exhibiting the internet, here this succeeds surprisingly well.

Ina PlodrochGerman Radio, Deutschlandfunk, Corso 

Einheitsbrei und reine Selbstdarstellung im Internet, wie wir sie von weltbekannten Popstars kennen? In der Ausstellung Seismographic Sounds ist davon keine Spur. Diese Musik-Videos und Podcasts sind nicht Selbstzweck, sondern eben wirklich Seismographen, die feinste Erschütterungen aufzeigen. Und die – mit Text und Bild – einen oft gnadenlos genauen Blick werfen auf ihr jeweiliges Land.

Jodok HessSRF 2 Kultur

With

Ali Gul Pir (Pakistan), Bad Copy (Serbia), Blank Banshee (Canada), Burgerkill (Indonesia), FOKN Bois (Ghana), Gato Diablo (Bolivia), Johannes Kreidler (Germany), Meira Asher (Israel), Olimpia Splendid (Finland), Salome MC (Iran), Stromae (Belgium), Soap&Skin (Austria), Temi DollFace (Nigeria), Umlilo (South Africa), Raed Yassin (Lebanon), and many others.

Production

Client Norient
Curators Thomas Burkhalter, Theresa Beyer and Hannes Liechti
Scenography Julien McHardy, Carlotta Werner and Nils Volkmann
Acoustic scenography hands on sound (Jan Paul Herzer and Max Kullmann)
Graphic design gut&schön (Annegreth Schärli)
Exhibition, build Nicolai Wienzoschek (head), Jens Dralle, Arne Krüger, Nico Krüger, Jens Langsteiner, Doris Pahl
Cut Virtual Debate Stephan Hermann
Translations German Wiebke Herbig, Italian: Nadine Sieber

Dates

2017 Kornhausforum Bern, Switzerland
2016 BASE Milano, Italy
2016 Castelgrande Bellinzona, Switzerland
2016 CTM Festival/ KKB Kunstraum Kreuzberg Berlin, Germany
2015 Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) Karlsruhe, Germany
2015 Forum Schlossplatz Aarau, Switzerland
2014 production and trial preview at Oberhafen, Hamburg, Germany

Seismographic Sounds playlist

by curator Hannes Lietchti

PUBLICATION

The hefty Seismographic Sounds - Visions of a New World publication accompanied the exhibition and presents many of the debates, interviews, essays as well as additional contributions. Like the exhibition, this book is a multivocal experiment bringing more than 250 contributions together.

Norient

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