A pioneer sound artist with a background in composition, Christina Kubisch has brought the magic of her Electrical Walks to Rome, as part of the exhibition«Sound Maps» at the Goethe Institut, curated by Valentino Catricalà. Following a detailed study of various districts in Rome, Kubisch used the Goethe Institut as her starting point for tracing a ‘sound map’ which crosses an interesting diversification of areas belonging to this ‘meta-landscape’, modulated by electromagnetic fields.
Equipped with special headphones that capture, translate and amplify these fields into sound, visitors walk along the Castro Pretorio road, an area neighbouring the University and close to the National Library(Biblioteca Nazionale). Then, they descend into the underground subway and board the carriages directed towards Termini Station. Here the soundscape becomes denser among the ticket offices, electronic arrival and departure displays, alarm doors and lifts – at times so intense that it becomes unbearable.
Visitors return to the surface, emerging into the light of the station’s square, and become immersed in the ‘electromagnetic’ sound experience of the bus that will take them back to the Institute. The muffled dimension of the area where the Goethe Institut is located can result in some curious surprise, such as the melody of cash machines, resembling an electronic music composition.
Christina Kubisch’sElectrical Walks, which began in Cologne in 2004, continues a research that, since the 1970s, has been using systems of electromagnetic induction as creative instruments. Sounds, with their tone and volume, become part of a palette depicting and ‘rewriting’urban spaces. The outline of the city itself is traced, sketched through topographic choices that, each time, are derived from a detailed study of the city. Everything invisible that surrounds us suddenly becomes perceptible in the synchronic combination of images and sounds. The landscape that surrounds any human being re-draws his/her social action, while re-writing the genetic structure.
The walk has to be experienced. In the exhibitionthere is also another work by Kubisch presenting a different aspect of mapping sound and of giving shape to the invisible.In Analyzing Silence, the sound waves of the word“silence”, translated into different languages,materialize in a visual shape printed on paper.
In dialogue with these works, with the aim of presenting different facets of sound landscapes, the exhibition presents an installation byMicol Assaël , an architecture where to walk on in order to listen to the ‘vitality’ of sounds travelling inside the wood. Aura Satz’s videos pay homage to two female pioneers of electronic music, Daphne Oram andLaurie Spiegel. These videos give space to instruments such as the Oramics Machinefor electronic music (on show at the Science Museum in London), included in the video dedicated to Daphne Oram, and also to the study of composition like the one depicted, where Laurie Spiegel uses all her instruments to create her electronic scores.
Valentino Catricalà summarises the shared spirit of the exhibited works as follows: «sound and applied science, DIY tools, software andalgorithms try to give shape to what is invisible, a task that is possible today thanks to the emergence of increasingly evolved technologies and artificial intelligence.»
«Mappe sonore/Sound Maps», curated by Valentino Catricalà, Goethe Institut, Rome, 29.09.2018 – 08.03.2019
«Christina Kubisch. Electrical Walks», until 30.10.2018
headphones are available at the Goethe Institut for free. Info here
images: (cover 1) Kristina Kubisch, «Electrical Walks», Goethe Institut, Rome, 2018 (2) Christina Kubisch, «Analyzing Silence», installation view, Mappe Sonore / Sound Maps, Goethe Institut, 2018, photo: Lanzetta (3) Kristina Kubisch, «Electrical Walks», map, Rome (4) Aura Satz, «Oramics: Atlantis Anew», Aura Satz (5) Micol Assaël, «Untitled», site -specific installation, Goethe Institut, Rome, photo: Lanzetta