stereo audio installation, 38:10
@ CCS Bard Galleries
The recording and composition of Labyrinthitis relies on a principle and phenomenon employed and experienced in both medical science and musical practice: when two frequencies at a certain ratio are played into the human ear, additional vibrations in the inner ear produce a third frequency or tone – a phenomenon known as “distortion product otoacoustic emission” (DPOAE), also known as “Tartini tone”. Contrary to our common conception of the ear as a passive receiving organ, this phenomena points to our active ears that both receive and create sound. Labyrinthitis begins with two specific tones at a 1:1.2 ratio of frequencies, recorded by tiny sensitive microphones in the artist’s ears. This then stimulates listeners to hear the distorting third tone produced by their own ears. Once the two primary tones have faded, the third tone created by Kirkegaard’s ears can be heard. Another tone is then added, in the necessary ratio to the earlier third tone, which then creates another, lower “third tone” – both in Kirkegaard’s ears and the listeners’. This generative process of tones being played, produced, recorded, and then played back again, continues on, intensifying in complexity and creating a descending tonal structure that resembles the spiral form of the inner ear. Though Labyrinthitis may be experienced in different sites as an audio installation or broadcast, it is site-specific to the ears of the listeners – not only hearing the artist hearing, but also themselves.
Jacob Kirkegaard is a Danish artist based in Berlin, who 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. Using unorthodox recording tools, Kirkegaard captures and contextualizes hitherto unheard sounds from within a variety of environments. He has presented his works at exhibitions and at festivals and conferences throughout the world and has released five albums. Kirkegaard is also a member of the sound art collective freq_out.