Looking Back: Sonic Acts Book Launch



Sonic Acts and Gonzo (circus) celebrated the start of the New Year last Saturday in a packed De Balie Salon. Sonic Acts officially launched their new book with an afternoon filled with Geologic Imagination. We invited Timothy Morton to speak about The Fast Track to Ecological Sadness, Femke Herregraven talked about her research project The All Infrared Line and Raviv Ganchrow shared his research into infrasound for his work Long-Wave Synthesis, commissioned for Dark Ecology. Afterwards, DJs from Gonzo (Circus) provided a soundtrack of adventurous music to the drinks.

Call for Application: Critical Writing Workshop 2015



Following the success of the 2013 Critical Writing Workshop, another edition of Describing the Indescribable will take place from 25 February to 1 March 2015 during the Sonic Acts festival. Renowned and experienced journalists and writers will share insights into specific aspects of their craft (language, style, focus) and provide feedback on the texts written by the workshop participants during Sonic Acts. The workshop is aimed at a maximum of 15 emerging European bloggers, journalists, critics and writers active or interested in the field of interdisciplinary arts (media arts, film, visual arts, performance). Applicants will be asked to submit a short motivation and CV to write[@]sonicacts[.]com and will be selected by an expert panel. The deadline for applications is 6 February 2015. Contributors to the Dutch/Belgian music magazine Gonzo (Circus) and writers and editors from other European magazines/blogging platforms will facilitate the workshop. For an impression, the 2013 Sonic Acts blog can be found here.

New names for Sonic Acts Festival



Sonic Acts Festival confirms new names for the audiovisual programme on Saturday 28 February in Paradiso, a collaboration with Rewire. John Foxx and Steve D’Agostino present the European premiere of Evidence of Time Travel, a sinister sonic architecture of drum machines and analogue synths with visuals by Karborn. There is also knife-edged techno from enigmatic Swedish duo Shxcxchcxsh; drum legend Jaki Liebezeit performs with Burnt Friedman and Le Révélateur (Roger Tellier-Craig and Sabrina Ratté) delivers ‘twinkling aesthetic resonance’. Robert Curgenven brings a visceral psychogeography of settler colonialsm via field recordings, pipe organ, guitars, dubplates and film, while Grischa Lichtenberger stages evocative sculptural beats. Mexican master of electronic music Murcof performs in a new collaborative project with visual artist Rod Maclachlan on 27 February at the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ. Previous confirmations for the programme in Paradiso (Saturday 28 February) include Jacaszek & Kwartludium performing Catalogue des Arbres – instrumental and vocal improvisations set against an organic drone of outdoor recordings – and the world premiere of Metaphysical, the new audiovisual project by Shapednoise with sYn. The performance programme on Friday 27 February in Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ starts with a performance of Otto Piene’s (1928–2014) spectacular Die Sonne kommt näher (The Proliferation of the Sun). Sound recordist BJ Nilsen and experimental filmmaker Karl Lemieux perform their new work unearthed; Jana Winderen premieres new work inspired by the Dark Ecology Journey in North Norway & Russia, Herman Kolgen performs Seismik, and Mario de Vega presents his brand new installation Dolmen, a collaboration with Donaufestival (Austria). An overview of the Sonic Acts Festival programme for each day can be found here.

John Foxx & Steve D‘Agostino feat. Karborn - Evidence of Time Travel

After the premiere at the British Film Institute last November, Sonic Acts Festival is honoured to present the European premiere of Evidence of Time Travel, a unique sound and video investigation into the terrors and pleasures of temporal displacement. It combines the sinister sonic architecture of John Foxx (Ultravox, Tiger Lily and Nation 12 a.o.) and Steve D'Agostino (who has worked with a.o. ADD N To (X), Thurston Moore, Depeche Mode and David Sylvian) with Karborn's haunting visuals. They describe Evidence of Time Travel as: “Span forty years in a moment . . . Ultimate time transfusion . . . skin crackles, a rhapsody in flames... witness images of torn, ruthless smiles through the crashed distortion; try to recall the future memory of a figure lost on a distant shore.” Evidence of Time Travel was released on the 6th October by Metamatic Records. Graphic volumes created by Karborn are released digitally monthly for free on www.evidenceoftimetravel.com. A limited collector’s edition book with all the graphic volumes and associated media will be available early this year. Boomkat: “Superb darkside electro & techno-pop instrumentals run thru VHS and Betamax for proper, tape-warped tension and metallic atmosphere”

Shxcxchcxsh

The once industrial city of Norrköping in eastern Sweden may not be the techno mecca of the world, but the two members of Shxcxchcxsh find their hometown a perfect place to focus on music. Their sound is a deadly serious techno born out of the elements of noise, drone, glitch, broken beats, and pounding industrial and much more. After releasing on Semantica and Subsist Shxcxchcxsh found a home in Avian, a sought-after contemporary techno label run by Shifted and Ventress. Their debut album STRGTHS successfully etched their unpronounceable name onto the audiences’ minds. The duo’s second album Linear S Decoded saw the light in September 2014 and was received with much appraise. Pitchfork: "Shxcxchcxsh have a light touch with heavy sounds, and as a result Linear S Decoded is the rare album that allows you to wallow in the techno muck and come out feeling vitalized." Resident Advisor: “this is still one of the most ferocious and uncompromising techno albums you'll hear this year— Shxcxchcxsh have just made it sound a bit friendlier with the loony disposition of '90s electronica rather than the corrugated textures of recent industrial techno. Whether they're surging through blackened tunnels of reverb and rumble or just bouncing along happily, Shxcxchcxsh have found a way to make faceless techno fun.”

Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit

For more than fourteen years electronic producer Burnt Friedman and legendary Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit have been collaborating on the Secret Rhythms series. It's been a fruitful partnership, generating umpteen records and countless live performances. Central to the secret rhythms concept is Liebezeit’s radical drum code in unison with Friedman’s range of archaic metal percussion and synth instruments.

Le Révélateur

Le Révélateur started in 2008 as a solo venture for Montreal-based electronic musician Roger Tellier-Craig (Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Fly Pan Am). Together with collaborator Sabrina Ratté, who creates the project’s videos and live visuals, they explore a common fascination for the combination of electronic image and sound, using a varying array of digital and analogue technologies. Le Révélateur has released recordings on Gneiss Things, NNA Tapes and Root Strata. Their most recent album Extreme Events was released in early September 2014. Factmag: “dense synthesized textures, unusual rhythms and melodies that get lodged in your brain for weeks. At a time when many of the legion of synthesizer fetishists that emerged in the wake of Emeralds and Oneohtrix Point Never have moved onto something else (minimal techno?), it’s refreshing to hear Tellier-Craig instead honing his sound and arriving on possibly the best material of his career.” Vice’s Creators Project: “Some tracks buzz and hum in glitched-out cacophony, while others incorporate warped sonic bodies through use of Analogue Solutions’ Telemark synth. The stunning visuals created by Ratté for the live and video performances perfectly integrate with Tellier-Craig's music and offer a puzzling A/V performance from another dimension.”

Robert Curgenven – They tore the earth and, like a scar, it swallowed them

Robert Curgenven is a composer and sound artist drawing on the physicality of sound - not just the physical impact on the body but the way in which the auditory can shape our perception of space and the flow of time. “Behind his music lurk such presences as Alvin Lucier, King Tubby, Murray Schafer and Eliane Radigue”(The Wire). Previous performances by Robert Curgenven include, amongst others, TodaysArt festival (Den Haag/NL), Ultrahang Festival (Budapest), Club Transmediale (Berlin) and Audiograft Festival (Oxford/UK). They tore the earth and, like a scar, it swallowed them is a very physical negotiation of territories voided by history, rendered via field recordings gathered over 10 years in over 30 remote locations across Australia alongside new work with pipe organ, guitar feedback, dubplates, turntables and low frequency oscillators. Curgenven: “Amidst the heat and the dust, in a landscape populated only by the insinuation of characters, settler colonialists’ blind enactment of will and violence against and into an unforgiving, arid interior is manifestation of a mortal struggle. The album traverses the historical dynamics of the settler colonial trope through the eyes not of the invaded but of the invaders to a harsh, remote land.”

Murcof & Rod Maclachlan

Murcof, together with visual alchemist Rod Maclachlan, will rework his recent surround sound explorations into a mesmerizing experience of light and sound, especially for the Sonic Acts Festival. Murcof is the performing and recording name of Mexican electronic musician and composer Fernando Corona. Brooding electronics and classical sound sources combine in the integrated sound world of Murcof. There is a limitlessness to his music that absorbs the listener, touching on themes of life, death and eternity. He draws on minimalism, post modernism and baroque music to create music that moves the mind and heart. He has released three critically acclaimed albums and an EP on The Leaf Label. Murcof's international reputation as a staggering live presence has been enhanced with a number of special collaborations, including events at Greenwich Planetarium (in collaboration with the Royal Astronomer), Montreux Jazz Festival (collaboration with Talvin Singh & Erik Truffaz) and L'Auditori at Sonar Festival in Barcelona (with the pianist Francesco Tristano). In 2008 he toured a new work called 'Oceano' in collaboration with classical musicians BCN216 and light sculptor Flicker, and his ongoing collaboration with Simon Geilfus (AntiVJ) has become known as one of the most awe-inspiring audiovisual collaborations currently on the circuit. Uncut: "Mindblowing, like Sunn 0))) playing Ligeti in a galaxy far, far away. SUBLIME" Roderick Maclachlan is Bristol based visual artist working with light and movement in conjunction with objects and architecture. These combinations of media are chosen so as to reveal relationships between perception and imagination, the physical and the ethereal. Maclachlan’s approach to visuals for music is one of improvisation, retaining a sense of immediacy and sensitivity to the flow of the piece by creating visual elements live on stage. Recent exhibitions include Disappearance, Enclave gallery, London and Life’s An Illusion Love Is A Dream, Liverpool Royal Standard. Soundcloud Murcof

Grischa Lichtenberger

Signed at 26 by high-standards experimental cult label Raster Noton, he released his debut EP ~treibgut in 2009, followed by his debut album and iv (inertia) in 2012. Lichtenberger defines himself more attracted to the creation process than to musical protocols. This young multidisciplinary artist has rewarded us with abstract but also very evocative work, full of fine “constructivist” refined sounds he has the knack for. He played audiovisual live sets on international festivals and realized several commissioned installations on both local and international sites.

Sonic Acts 2015 Programme at a glance



We present an overview of the preliminary programme for each day of the Sonic Acts Festival. The full programme will be online from 17 January onwards. For more information about tickets, see our Sonic Acts Festival tickets page.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Conference – Paradiso

In the four-day conference, artists, scientists and writers discuss The Geologic Imagination, and explore the radical transformations of our world and what it means to live in the Anthropocene. Graham Harman, philosopher and major figure in Object Oriented Philosophy. Timothy Morton, theorist who coined the term ‘Dark Ecology’. Reza Negarestani, writer–philosopher closely associated with Speculative Realism. Kurt Hentschläger, artist who creates audiovisual performances and installations. Douglas Kahn, media historian, author of Earth Sound Earth Signal, about art at ‘Earth magnitude’. Alan Weisman, research journalist and author of The World Without Us. Mark Williams, geologist and professor of palaeobiology.

Opening – Stedelijk Museum

The opening of the Sonic Acts Festival at Stedelijk Museum features the climactic third chapter in the trilogy of text–sound pieces Florian Hecker created in collaboration with writer–philosopher Reza Negarestani; Kurt Hentschläger’s latest audiovisual installation, Measure (2014), which reflects on nature as filtered through communication channels and media; and performances by Bas van Koolwijk & Gert-Jan Prins, part wild horses mane on both sides and Espen Sommer Eide. Florian Hecker, electronic music composer with major exhibitions and performances at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Guggenheim Museum New York, MoMA New York, documenta 13, Centre Georges Pompidou. Bas van Koolwijk & Gert-Jan Prins, video and sound artists focusing on electronic noise, co-developers of the Synchronator device. Kurt Hentschläger’s latest audiovisual installation, Measure (2014), reflects on nature as filtered through communication channels and media. Espen Sommer Eide, composer, artist and musician, who has released several solo albums as Phonophani. part wild horses mane on both sides, idiosyncratic duo who consistently defy experiential boundaries in installation and performance

Sonic Acts at OT301

Probing the deeper levels of audiovisual experience in relation to The Geologic Imagination, presented by Sonic Acts in cooperation with Viral Radio. Vessel live, feat. Pedro Maia, members of a new generation of producers who propel electronic music forward with exciting, unclassifiable ideas. Special performance with live cinema. TCF, contemporary artist and musician, explores themes of code and cryptography in his musical conceptions. M.E.S.H., Berlin-based producer, formative figure in the underground club artist community. Karen Gwyer, combines house and techno into hypnotic slow tracks and mixes African beats with heavy synths. Minor Science, producer who in addition to writing for Resident Advisor makes his own mix of house and techno. Killing Sound, abstract techno producer trio from Bristol. Juha van ‘t Zelfde, DJ and independent organiser with a preference for experimental electronic music.

Friday 27 February 2015

Conference - Paradiso

Noam M. Elcott, historian of modern art and media with an emphasis on photography and film. Jana Winderen, audiovisual artist with a background in mathematics, chemistry and fish ecology. Paul Bogard, author of The End of Night; Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light. Karl Lemieux, ninth member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, for which he does live 16 mm film projections. Paul Purgas & James Ginzburg (Emptyset), one of the most innovative acts currently working in techno. Espen Sommer Eide, composer, artist and musician, who has released several solo albums as Phonophani. Martin Howse, artist interested in the intuitive connection between technology and the Earth. Liam Young, architect and researcher who operates in the spaces between design, fiction and futures. John Tresch, historian of science and technology and author of The Romantic Machine.

Sonic Acts at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ

The programme at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ features amongst others the world premieres of DOLMEN, a new work by Mario de Vega; unearthed by BJ Nilsen & Karl Lemieux; and a new work by Jana Winderen. The last two were commissioned by Sonic Acts, and were inspired by the Dark Ecology journey to Northern Norway and Russia. And Mexican master of electronic music Murcof performs in a new collaborative project with visual artist Rod Maclachlan. Murcof & Rod Maclachlan - Mexican master of electronic music performs in a new collaborative project with visual artist Otto Piene (1928–2014) - performance of The Proliferation of the Sun, Piene is co-founder of the ZERO Movement in the 1950s and the first artist to make Sky Art in the 1960s. Jana Winderen, audiovisual artist with a background in mathematics, chemistry and fish ecology. BJ Nilsen & Karl Lemieux, composer and sound recordist BJ Nilsen and experimental filmmaker Karl Lemieux travelled to Northern Norway and Russia to make field recordings for a new collaborative audiovisual performance entitled unearthed. Herman Kolgen, multidisciplinary artist and audiokinetic sculptor. Mario de Vega, Mexican sound artist known for his confrontational works, Sonic Acts presents the world premiere of his new work DOLMEN Matthijs Munnik & Joris Strijbos, installation U-AV #2 build synaesthetic landscapes out of electronic sound structures, generative video and stroboscopic light

Saturday 28 February 2015

Conference - Paradiso

Benjamin Bratton, a theorist whose work spans philosophy, art and design. Jeff VanderMeer, novelist whose most recent work is the New York Times-bestselling Southern Reach trilogy. Jamie Kruse & Elizabeth Ellsworth, founders of media arts and design collaboration smudge studio and editors of Making the Geologic Now. Rob Holmes, landscape architect with an interest in large-scale anthropogenic landscape change, member of The Dredge Research Collaborative. Ben Woodard, philosopher who writes extensively on pessimism, horror film, and weird fiction. Michael Welland, geologist and sand enthusiast. Ele Carpenter, curator, and writer, who currently researches artistic involvement with nuclear materials.

Sonic Acts at Paradiso

Sonic Acts takes over Paradiso with an exhilarating audiovisual programme lasting into the early hours, in collaboration with Rewire. John Foxx & Steve D'Agostino feat. Karborn, present the European premiere of Evidence of Time Travel, a sinister sonic architecture of drum machines and analogue synths, with visuals by Karborn Shxcxchcxsh, knife-edged techno by enigmatic Swedish duo Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit, collaboration between electronic producer Friedman and legendary Can drummer Liebezeit Le Révélateur, aka Roger Tellier-Craig (G!YBE and Fly Pan Am) and Sabrina Ratté - ‘twinkling aesthetic resonance’ Robert Curgenven, brings a visceral psychogeography of settler colonialsm via field recordings, pipe organ, guitars, dubplates and film Grischa Lichtenberger, (raster-noton)- stages evocative sculptural beats Jacaszek & Kwartludium, a producer of electroacoustic music teams up with a contemporary music ensemble. They will open the night with Catalogue des Arbres - a sparse, droney and smoky set. With live visual work by Pedro Maia Shapednoise with sYn visuals presents Metaphysical, world premiere of the new audiovisual project of techno/electronics producer Shackleton, electronic music producer who likes to mix genres such as dubstep, garage, and techno & more to be confirmed

Sunday 1 March 2015

Conference - Paradiso

Raviv Ganchrow, sound artist and researcher focusing on interrelations between sound and space. Hillel Schwartz, cultural historian and author of the impressive study Making Noise.

Sonic Acts Field Trip

Raviv Ganchrow is developing Long-Wave Synthesis, a new land-art scale sound installation investigating infrasound. The work deals with extremely long waves, interacts with the landscape and is an invitation to ‘think at Earth magnitude’. A new prototype will be shown at an outdoor location (tba).

Sonic Acts at Vondelkerk

Tonaliens, with Hilary Jeffery (trombone), Amelia Cuni (voice), Werner Durand, Ralf Meinz, and Robin Hayward (microtonal tuba) Greifen by Gabriel Paiuk (composer and sound artist), performed by Ekkehard Windrich (violin).

First names for Sonic Acts Festival 2015



26 February –1 March 2015, Amsterdam Sonic Acts announces the first names for the 2015 edition: philosopher Graham Harman, theorists Benjamin Bratton and Timothy Morton, architect and researcher Liam Young, NYT bestselling author Jeff Vandermeer and research journalist Alan Weisman, media historian Douglas Kahn, geologist Michael Welland, artists Kurt Hentschläger, BJ Nilsen, Karl Lemieux, Jana Winderen and Raviv Ganchrow; the opening evening at the Stedelijk Museum with Florian Hecker, and concerts by Vessel, M.E.S.H., TCF and TONALIENS - featuring Hilary Jeffrey, Amelia Cuni, Werner Durand, Robin Hayward and Ralf Meinz - and a new commissioned work by Mario de Vega. Inspired by geosciences, this edition of the Sonic Acts Festival zooms in on planet Earth through the theme The Geologic Imagination. Human activity has irreversibly changed the composition of the atmosphere, the oceans, and even the Earth’s crust. Humanity has become a geological force. The way we see the world, how we understand the systems and processes of nature, and our intentions and interactions with the planet are central to The Geologic Imagination. How do science and art document and portray the changes and transformations that occur on a geological scale? How can we experience these changes and transformations? Sonic Acts invites artists and theorists to tap into their 'geologic imagination' and present the images, sounds and ideas that it generates. Conference In the four-day conference, artists, scientists and writers discuss The Geologic Imagination, explore the radical transformations to our world, and what it means to live in the Anthropocene. Confirmed speakers at the event include philosopher Graham Harman, a major figure in the philosophical movement known as Object Oriented Ontology; media historian Douglas Kahn whose most recent book Earth Sound Earth Signal is about art at ‘Earth magnitude’; geologist – and sand enthusiast – Michael Welland; Timothy Morton, the theorist who coined the term ‘Dark Ecology’; Benjamin Bratton, a theorist whose work spans philosophy, art and design; research journalist Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us; architect and researcher Liam Young; and novelist Jeff Vandermeer, whose most recent work is the New York Times-bestselling Southern Reach trilogy. Concerts and performances The festival includes several evenings of concerts and performances that probe the deeper levels of audiovisual experience in relation to The Geologic Imagination. The programme at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ on Friday 27 February 2015 features the world premieres of a new commissioned work by Mario de Vega, unearthed by BJ Nilsen & Karl Lemieux, and a new work by Jana Winderen. The last two were commissioned by Sonic Acts, and were inspired by the Dark Ecology journey to Northern Norway and Russia. Vessel, M.E.S.H. and TCF are confirmed for the exciting clubnight in OT301, following the opening on Thursday 26 February 2015. TONALIENS, with Hilary Jeffrey (trombone), Amelia Cuni (voice), Werner Durand, Ralf Meinz, and Robin Hayward (microtonal tuba) perform the closing concert on Sunday 1 March 2015 in the Vondelkerk. Opening The opening of the Sonic Acts Festival at the Stedelijk Museum, on Thursday 26 February 2015, features the climactic third chapter in the trilogy of text–sound pieces Florian Hecker created in collaboration with writer–philosopher Reza Negarestani. Field Trip Raviv Ganchrow is developing Long-Wave Synthesis, a new land-art scale sound installation investigating infrasound. The work deals with extremely long waves, interacts with the landscape and is an invitation to ‘think at Earth magnitude’. A new prototype will be shown on Sunday 1 March 2015 at an outdoor location yet to be announced, accompanied by a series of lectures on infrasound by Raviv Ganchrow and several other scientists. Publication The Geologic Imagination The festival programme is complimented by a publication. The essays, interviews and visual contributions explore the theme of The Geologic Imagination from a broad range of perspectives. The book contains essays by Timothy Morton, Douglas Kahn, Paul Bogard, Michael Welland and Raviv Ganchrow; interviews with Dipesh Chakrabarty, Matthew Coolidge, Liam Young, Noortje Marres, Kodwo Eshun, Kurt Hentschläger, and Mario de Vega; and visual contributions by Femke Herregraven, Mirna Belina, Ellsworth & Kruse, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Marijn de Jong, and BJ Nilsen & Karl Lemieux. It also includes the new composition unearthed by BJ Nilsen, made in Northern Norway and Northwest Russia as part of the first Dark Ecology journey. The book will be presented on Saturday 17 January 2015 in De Balie Amsterdam, during our Book Launch & New Year’s Reception, in cooperation with Gonzo (Circus). Sonic Acts Festival 2015 - The Geologic Imagination Thursday 26 February to Sunday 1 March 2015 Various locations in Amsterdam, including Paradiso, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, OT301, Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Vondelkerk, and Steim. Tickets A limited number of Early Bird Passepartouts is already on sale and are available until 31 December 2014. Day passes and event tickets will be on sale from 1 January 2015; from this date the Passepartouts will only be available for the regular price. Early Bird Passepartout (until 31-12-2014): regular €70 / discount €60 Passepartout: regular €90 / discount €80 Day Pass (Thu 26 Feb / Fri 27 Feb / Sat 28 Feb): regular €30 / discount €27,50 Conference Ticket (Thu 26 Feb / Fri 27 Feb / Sat 28 Feb): regular €20 / discount €17,50 Opening Stedelijk Museum (Thu 26 Feb): regular €17,50 / discount €10 / MJK €2,50 Sonic Acts at OT301 (Thu 26 Feb): regular €10 / discount €7,50 Sonic Acts at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ (Fri 27 Feb): regular €17,50 / discount €15 Sonic Acts at Paradiso (Sat 28 Feb): regular €13,50 / discount €11 Sonic Acts Field Trip (Sun 1 Mar): regular €20 / discount €17,50 Sonic Acts at Vondelkerk (Sun 1 Mar): regular €12,50 / discount €10 Professionals can apply for accreditation here. Join our Facebook event. To get in the mood for the coming edition, check out this video impression of Sonic Acts 2013:

Sonic Acts XV - 2013 - The Dark Universe from Sonic Acts on Vimeo.

The Geologic Imagination is generously supported by Creative Industries Fund NL, Mondriaan Fund, City of Amsterdam, Paradiso, Fonds 21, Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Performing Arts Fund NL, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, PNEK, and UNSW Australia.

Pre-order the Publication The Geologic Imagination



The book The Geologic Imagination (336 pp.) is truly a guide to the festival theme. The publication is a richly illustrated collection of essays, visual contributions and interviews, and is accompanied by unearthed, a new sound work by BJ Nilsen. You can already pre-order the book and be the first to have it in 2015! This new publication by Sonic Acts is inspired by geosciences and zooms in on planet Earth. Fundamental to The Geologic Imagination is the idea that we live in a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Human activity has irreversibly changed the composition of the atmosphere, the oceans, and even the Earth’s crust. Humanity has become a geological force. Consequently, the perspective has shifted from humans at the centre of the world to the forces that act on timescales beyond the conceivable. These ideas challenge us to rethink our attachments to the world, and our concepts of nature, culture and ecology. With this book Sonic Acts examines how art and science map and document new insights, and how the changes and transformations that occur on a geological scale can become something humans can feel, touch, and experience. The Geologic Imagination features new essays by Timothy Morton, Douglas Kahn, Paul Bogard, Michael Welland, and Raviv Ganchrow; there are interviews with Dipesh Chakrabarty, Matthew Coolidge, Liam Young, Noortje Marres, Kodwo Eshun, Kurt Hentschläger, and Mario de Vega; and visual contributions by Femke Herregraven, Mirna Belina, Ellsworth & Kruse, the Center of Land Use Interpretation, Marijn de Jong, and BJ Nilsen & Karl Lemieux. The publication accompanies the Sonic Acts festival 2015. A major part of contributions is connected to the Dark Ecology project that started in October 2014. The book also contains unearthed, a new soundwork BJ Nilsen made during the Dark Ecology explorations of the border zone between Kirkenes (Norway) and Nikel (Russia).

Book Launch The Geologic Imagination & New Year’s Reception



Sonic Acts and Gonzo (Circus) invite you to celebrate the start of the New Year on Saturday 17 January 2015 at De Balie Amsterdam. Sonic Acts officially launches their new book with an afternoon filled with Geologic Imagination, following a book launch at the Kunsthall in Bergen, Norway. Timothy Morton, one of the contributors to the book, will reflect on Dark Ecology, thinking at Earth magnitude and The Geologic Imagination. DJs from Gonzo (Circus) will provide a soundtrack of adventurous music. More speakers to be announced soon. The Geologic Imagination (336 pp.) is a richly illustrated collection of essays, visual contributions and interviews. The publication is accompanied by unearthed, a new sound work by BJ Nilsen. The book contains essays by Timothy Morton, Douglas Kahn, Paul Bogard, Michael Welland and Raviv Ganchrow; interviews with Dipesh Chakrabarty, Matthew Coolidge, Liam Young, Noortje Marres, Kodwo Eshun, Kurt Hentschläger, and Mario de Vega; and visual contributions by Femke Herregraven, Mirna Belina, Ellsworth & Kruse, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Marijn de Jong, and BJ Nilsen & Karl Lemieux. Pre-order the book now! Saturday 17 January 2015 at 16.00 De Balie, Amsterdam Admission is free, but please reserve via reservations[at]sonicacts[.]com and join our Facebook event.

Sonic Acts Festival 2015: Early Bird Passepartouts



The Geologic Imagination - 26 February until 1 March 2015   We are very excited to announce the next edition of the Sonic Acts festival: The Geologic Imagination, which will take place in Amsterdam from 26 February to 1 March 2015. The festival includes a three-days conference, masterclasses, concerts, installations, a film programme, workshops, and a book. The Early Bird Passepartouts will go on sale on Saturday 1 November 2014. Only a limited number of tickets will be available at a special Early Bird price (70 euros, 60 euros for students/CJP/65+/Amsterdam Stadspas) until 31 December 2014 or until sold out, so you will have to be quick to snap them up!   Early Bird Passepartouts: (from 01-11-2014 until 31-12-2014)   Regular  €70,- Students / CJP / 65+ / Amsterdam Stadspas €60,-   Accreditation Professionals can apply for accreditation here. You will be notified within two weeks if your application is granted. Press can apply for accreditation by sending an email to Sanne Lohof, sanne[at]sonicacts[.]com   The Geologic Imagination Inspired by geosciences, Sonic Acts zooms in on planet Earth. Fundamental to The Geologic Imagination is the thesis that we live in a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Human activity has irreversibly changed the composition of the atmosphere, the oceans, and even the Earth’s crust. Humanity has become a geological force. Consequently, the perspective has shifted from the human at the centre of the world to the forces that act on timescales beyond the conceivable. These ideas challenge us to rethink our attachments to the world, and our concepts of nature, culture and ecology.   The way we see the world, understand the systems and processes of nature, and our intentions and interactions with the planet are central to The Geologic Imagination. With the festival we examine how art and science map and document new insights, and how the changes and transformations that occur on a geological scale can become something humans can feel, touch, and experience. Sonic Acts invites artists and theorists to reflect on these transformations and make them imaginable.

Vertical Cinema UK premiere



Vertical Cinema - the large-scale, vertically projected works by internationally renowned experimental filmmakers and audiovisual artists, commissioned by Sonic Acts – will have its UK premiere at the Leeds International Film Festival, which takes place from 5 to 20 November 2014. Vertical Cinema launches the first Leeds Free Cinema Week with two sold-out screenings on Friday 7 November in the spectacular setting of Left Bank Leeds arts and events venue.   Due to the huge demand two extra screenings of Vertical Cinema were announced this morning. The two extra performances will take place at 18.00hrs and 20.30hrs on Saturday 8 November at the Left Bank on Cardigan Road.   You can follow the Vertical Cinema project on Facebook or check the website.

Call for Volunteers



Are you interested in technology, art, new media and electronic music? Sonic Acts is an interdisciplinary arts festival that presents four days of cutting edge performances, a wide range of concerts, screenings and an international conference with interesting lectures. The upcoming festival edition will take place from 26 February - 1 March 2015 in Amsterdam.   To make the festival happen and help out with the activities we organise before the festival, we are looking for volunteers to assist with communication and production. Furthermore, we will need bloggers, photographers and stewards for the information desk. So grab the opportunity to become part of the Sonic Acts festival team 2015.   WHAT WE NEED   Allround talents We are looking for creative people who are born supporters. Think of possible tasks such as help desk steward, production support, setup of locations, installation warden and visitor’s information contact, at the various festival locations.   Documentation support - Blogging Share your findings on the festival and conference. After selection based on a matching background in e.g. art, (new) media or philosophy, you will document the programme through blog posts on the festival website. Limited spots available!   Documentation support - Photo / video Photographers alike, join the documentation crew and complement the visual impression of the festival programme. Pictures will be uploaded to our Flickr with your photo credit. Limited places available!   WHAT WE OFFER Volunteering at Sonic Acts is a unique opportunity to gain valuable work experience. Some courses even let you earn unconsolidated ECTS for volunteer work during your study. We also offer a festival t-shirt, free entrance to some programmes and support for your travel expenses.   We need your help to make this years festival a success. If you’re interested please do not hesitate to contact Marianne Eerenstein via vrijwillig[at]sonicacts[.]com or (+31) (0)20 6264521. N.B. If you’re applying for one of the documentation support posts, please send along a short piece on your background.

Erika Balsom Interview



SONIC ACTS RESEARCH SERIES #5   In February 2014 Sonic Acts presented the Vertical Cinema project in the Dan Flavin Hall of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (see photos). The programme included lectures on verticality in film by Philippe-Alain Michaud, Bart Rutten, Noam Elcott and Erika Balsom. Their lectures referred to many examples from the history of film, contemporary arts, theatre and nineteenth-century visual spectacles of the use of verticality in moving images. They made clear that Vertical Cinema could expand in many directions, and resonates with several tendencies in the contemporary culture of moving images. We used the opportunity to pose some questions to film scholar Erika Balsom. Read the interview with Balsom and watch the lectures by Philippe-Alain Michaud and Bart Rutten (on the right), the fifth edition of the Sonic Acts Research Series.   Also take a look at our Sonic Acts Research Series #2, an interview with and presentations by Erkki Huhtamo on Verticality     Interview Erika Balsom   Arie Altena: How does Vertical Cinema connect with the ideas you are working on?   Erika Balsom: My recent research examines contemporary art practices as a way of thinking about what happens to cinema after digitisation. Since the early 1990s, many artists have been engaging with the moving image in ways that I see as producing a reflection on the material, architectural, and aesthetic mutations of cinema in recent years. I think we can see a project like Vertical Cinema as allegorising some of the transformations of cinema after digitisation, such as the increased variability of the aspect ratio and the new exhibition spaces into which the moving image has travelled. It is interesting to me that Vertical Cinema uses 35mm film and keeps the recognisable CinemaScope aspect ratio, but then literally turns it on its head. We see a familiar apparatus deployed in an unfamiliar way, gesturing to continuity and change at the same time. This very much connects to a key aim of my research, which is to see how cinema is preserved and transfigured by technological change and by its increasing presence in the contemporary art context.   AA: One of the interesting things that happens with our project Vertical Cinema is that although at first the idea of vertical cinema seems to be totally marginal, the longer you investigate it, the more cultural references pop up. Some are mentioned often, like the writings of Sergei Eisenstein and the balloon panoramas. Others come as truly pleasant surprises.   EB: Chris Welsby’s Shore Line from 1977 is an interesting example in this respect. It was first shown in London and then in Amsterdam in 1980 at the Festival of Nations. The work consists of six 16mm projectors turned on their side so that they project in portrait format. Each one shows an image of a shoreline with incoming waves. They are placed side by side so that the horizon line goes directly across to create a kind of panoramic image. There’s a fascinating tension between horizontality and verticality at play. But the even more interesting aspect is that Welsby purposefully doesn't synchronise the projectors. The inability to achieve complete synchronisation has always been a problem in multiscreen projections –Abel Gance complained about this while realising the triptych projections in his film Napoleon (1927) and it persisted as a problem in the Cinerama system. You could always see the seams dividing the panels of film. Instead of regarding this as something to overcome, Welsby actually uses it to disrupt the representational integrity of the image. He breaks the illusion that the viewer might have transparent access to the natural scene he depicts. There is an insistence on the aleatory relationship between the individual vertical images, and this makes any synthesis into the horizontal aspect ratio incomplete. The vertical image always retains something of its autonomy by being out of step with its neighbour. To me, this is a very interesting work to discuss in relation to Vertical Cinema, but perhaps one that is less known.   AA: If you look at art practices now do you see different aspect ratios or portrait-sized screens being used more often?   EB: The digital image makes it much easier now to manipulate the aspect ratio than ever before. With photochemical film, the aspect ratio is tied to the shape of the image on the filmstrip. And in turn the shape of the image is tied to the needs of camera manufacturers and so on. There is a close relationship between the storage medium and the display medium in photochemical film, which is simply not true for the digital. In vernacular digital culture we find a really large variability of aspect ratios and that offers certain aesthetic possibilities to artists.   AA: But isn't that narrative a little bit more complex? There is also standardisation in the world of digitisation, the push to use certain defaults. The more that software and a certain mode of production become commercialised the more difficult it is to manipulate. One thing running through our Vertical Cinema project has been the use of celluloid as a critical statement on the industrialisation and standardisation of digital film. The entire digital video production process has become closed. So I wonder to what extent various aspect ratios are used in the digital vernacular?   EB: You’re absolutely right to point out that there are standardised digital formats – if someone uses Instagram it’s a square picture, whether you like it or not – but it is undoubtedly the case that there is a greater variety of formats than with photochemical film, and also a greater ease in treating the frame as malleable. If you’re an artist working with digital video, you can really make your projection whatever shape you want. And that’s something that wouldn't necessarily apply to photochemical film. Though there is, of course, a whole history of analogue examples of unusual aspect ratios, so it certainly isn’t something that began with the digital.   AA: One of Noam Elcott’s examples at the Vertical Cinema event was a film by Malcolm le Grice made with 9.5mm film, which was already obsolete when he used it. How would you compare the field of cinematic experimentation, for instance, the expanded cinema of the 1960s, to the use of multiscreen and various aspect ratios within contemporary films made by artists?   EB: One way of thinking about these examples from the perspective of contemporary artists’ cinema is exactly as a continuation of that lineage of cinematic experimentation that goes back to Le Grice and the broader tradition of expanded cinema. But obviously the status of the moving image in relation to art institutions has changed greatly since the 1960s and 1970s. The moving image has gone from something that was relatively marginal to something that is today absolutely endorsed. In 1960s expanded cinema there tended to be a critical imperative to break apart the apparatus as we knew it, as well as a claim that the spectator would become critically active in negotiating the screen space. I don’t think we can make those claims on the part of most contemporary works. I think their interests are very different, as is their relationship to art institutes. Doug Aitken makes highly spectacular multiscreen works, yet we see none of the same criticality there. But lots of works from the 1960s and 1970s have received renewed scholarly and curatorial attention because of this recent work in contemporary art. Until the last fifteen years or so these experimental works were generally not considered as part of art history in any significant way. Now they are.   AA: Could you reflect on this change in attitude?   EB: I have two answers. One: it’s very belated. The canonical histories of experimental film and art have been breaking down for a while and things reached a point where these expanded cinema works were readmitted and reassessed in light of their undeniable importance. But the other reason, particularly true within academic film studies, has to do with the major question confronting the discipline right now is: what is cinema? There is a return to an ontological inquiry that wasn't really a part of the conversation on film in the 1970s or 1980s, or even the 1990s. What is cinema? What are the kinds of variable instantiations of cinema? How can we think of a classical apparatus, but also how can we think outside of it? These are all questions that are now unavoidable for anybody talking about the moving image and yet they have confronted artists and filmmakers for ages. So I think that’s part of the reason why we have had a lot more beginning PhD students saying: ‘I’m working on 1960s and 70s expanded cinema’. Why? Well, these are simply terrific and important works. But there’s also a sense that they provide answers to certain theoretical questions that are quite pressing in the discipline now. And it’s about time.   AA: This is certainly related to the explosion of different forms and formats of moving image…the different screens that we have, the mobile screens, the huge screens used for advertising...   EB: In my book Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art I wrote about what is called ‘the classical cinematic apparatus’. It still persists today in some places but certainly not in the way that it used to. What has happened is that this apparatus has disintegrated and elements of it have travelled and combined with things that historically weren’t a part of cinema to create new hybrid forms. I see this not as a dilution of cinema; it’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a really interesting point of tension that allows us to think about what cinema was, and also about its potential new forms. But I think that it’s impossible to adequately consider the use of the moving image that we see in contemporary art and visual culture without fully understanding the history of cinema and film theory. That tradition is important to helping us understand the present.   AA: A very radical view would say that classical cinema actually only spanned a very brief period in the history of moving images, if you go back to Renaissance theatre and the magic lantern shows, phantasmagoria, etc.   EB: Of course. But I do see the classical cinematic dispositif as a unique and privileged form, for all kinds of reasons that would take too long to get into here. I would also argue that it’s within the discipline of film studies that we find the most interesting accounts of the ways those older media forms turned into cinema. We owe our understanding of this longer history of moving images to work that has been done largely within the discipline of film studies. Film theory provides us with a way of understanding this longer history, and also where we might be headed.   AA: Had you ever thought about the theme of verticality in cinema before we asked you to do a lecture on it?   EB: A little bit, primarily in relation to Tacita Dean’s Film, which I’ve written about in a forthcoming article. Also, as a graduate student I attended a seminar on Eisenstein where we read almost everything he ever wrote that was available in English, so I was familiar with his text on the dynamic square. Tacita Dean’s Film was particularly interesting to me because it demonstrates the specificity of analogue film through attributes and techniques primarily associated with digital media, such as compositing, artifice, and special effects. We might see Dean’s use of the vertical screen not simply as a way of producing a work that would be visually effective within the Turbine Hall, but – like her use of compositing – as a gesture that stakes out a difference from digital forms of imaging by doing something closely associated with the digital in 35mm film. The portrait aspect ratio is, after all, perhaps most familiar to us now from smartphones.   AA: There are obvious reasons why our field of vision is horizontal. But maybe there are other reasons why verticality is virtually absent in cinema?   EB: The very obvious reason for the dominance of the horizontal is that cinema inherited nineteenth-century theatre traditions. In his piece on the dynamic square, Eisenstein briefly remarks that economics is also a motivator for horizontal screens: if the screen is horizontal, more people can fit in the theatre and have a decent sight line. I could be forgetting something, but basically all of the examples of vertical cinema that I know are non-narrative cinema. Cinema obviously began as a non-narrative form but quickly became a narrative form. I think it’s possible to imagine what a vertical narrative film would look like, but it’s quite difficult because we would probably imagine that only one person could occupy the screen at once – or the figures would be very, very small. Narrative cinema is dominated by an interest in humanity, in human encounters, and human conflict. Again, this is something that cinema inherits from earlier forms, in this case the nineteenth-century novel. It is hard to see how vertical cinema could be a satisfying form for depicting human encounters and conflict.   AA: When we started the Vertical Cinema project we also imagined how it could be used for more narrative forms, even though in the end the first films made for it are non-narrative.   EB: Some of Bill Viola’s video work in portrait mode has narrative moments. Melanie Smith and Rafael Ortega did a landscape piece in vertical format, but I can’t think of any really narrative works. But I’m sure there are film students who have made narrative films using a phone, and I imagine we’ll see more experiments with this in more mainstream contexts in the future.   AA: Often the use of vertical motion in narrative cinema is the least narrative moment in a film. Going up and down in an elevator, speeding downhill. It’s a special effect; it’s the cinema of attractions. It ties into the whole idea of the nineteenth-century visual spectacles that Erkki Huhtamo talks about.   EB: It’s worth noting that the diversity of projected image entertainment in the late nineteenth century is really immense, compared to what cinema quite quickly became in the twentieth century. Reflecting on this diversity, I think we clearly see the incentive to keep cinema open and preserve the wide variety of cinematic or pre-cinematic forms, rather than having everything turned into the classical format.   Erika Balsom lectures in Film Studies and Liberal Arts at the Film Studies Department, King’s College, London, and is the author of Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art (2013).

Report on A Day of Noise: Everything is designed, the rest is noise



Last Saturday Sonic Acts and ArtEZ Academy for the Arts presented A Day of Noise in Eindhoven as part of the Dutch Design Week (see for more photos our Flickr page). Dutch artist Rosa Menkman reports on the day:   Everything is designed the rest is noise Our day of noise takes place at TAC, the Temporary Art Centre Eindhoven, as part of the Dutch Design week. TAC is a beautiful space, with a huge industrial open floor plan. Endless possibilities. However, for the occasion of the Dutch Design week, the space is filled with pastel-coloured design lamps and vectorized tea cups exposed in a designerly fashion by this years Dutch Design students. Everything but noisy.    TAC hosts the hacklab in the back room, away from the collection of new Dutch Cute. This location kind of reinforces the ‘group’ feeling but also makes it harder for outsiders to enter during the day. A lot of the Dutch Design visitors only dare to peek into the room of noise and then move on. I guess they see this weird nest of wires, a noisy breeding ground and feel this is not what they came for.   The day starts with a workshop hosted by Gijs Gieskes, who lives in the neighbouring village Geldrop. In my opinion, Gieskes, a qualified industrial designer, is best described as an electro-magician. His creations are some of my favourite contraptions in the world of electronic art. Their existence oscillates between drawing, synthesizer and breaded clusters of wires that seem to act as objects you would have thought never needed to exist. But then, when I finally encounter them, their existence does seem necessary somehow. A hard drive embedded in an analogue synth kit, a Casio that keeps crashing and rebooting following only the rules of chance art. Euro rack modules that light up the room while a clock keeps step. It’s funky.   I believe Gieskes’ greatest contribution to contemporary music is that he is continuously expanding the field of musical instrument building. A sentiment that might be shared with the participants at the workshop, because besides a group of adventurous ArtEZ students there are quite a few advanced tinkerers working on complex concepts of noise, artefacts or simply new instrument building, who I already knew from the Internet. There is Robert Jordan from Melbourne Australia, who is working on his 100-in-1 Midi Master at Steim; Carolyn from Brussels who researches the use of noise in public space; Paul Tas from Errorinstruments; and Gottfried Haider who researches circuit drawing.   The Stigma of the Wire, LED as the saviour We start by breadboarding simple LED oscillator circuits. Soon these designs patch into other weird musical toys in which the LEDs play only an uncertain role. In the eight years I have known Gijs he has become more and more of an LED man; these days I believe every device he builds incorporates several if not many little lights that blink in response to the electrical pulses. While our tables gradually fill with LEDs, pieces of plastic, toys, wires and resistors, Gottfried and I talk about the general act of concealment at (media) art exhibitions. Wires are tucked away, circuits obfuscated and surfaces polished white (or indeed pastel). These easy-on-the-eye surfaces actually strengthen the stigma of the wire: as a sign of production wires seem to signify the mindset ‘it was just created, it must be dangerous’, or ‘with this product we indeed failed to participate in the great wireless age’. The actual circuitry, which is where the magic of electronics lives, is not part of the final presentation. According to this superficial divide, the artist-engineer can only exist in the back room, where knowledge lives but where the audience is kept away. But then again, maybe it was just Dutch Design week and we focus on (end) design here. Perhaps LEDs can indeed be described as the bridge across this divide.   Kairos as moment/um The lectures begin. Remco van Bladel gives an overview of noise as design methodology for visual design artefacts. His collection seems to illustrate that the outcome of noise in design is generally overly structured and clean, an outcome I am somewhat disappointed by. After Van Bladels lecture, Hillel Schwartz takes us on a hike through a cultural history of noise, or as he calls it, ‘a poetic excursion of grime and time’. In the second part of his lecture – by far my favourite part – Schwartz discusses three concepts of time and their connection to noise. He explains how the Greeks divided the experience of time into three different forms. First there is aeon time. This is universally ongoing and impersonal time. As an eternal flux and flow it is always ‘just there’. Schwartz connects aeon time to background noise, the noise that has been there since the Big Bang, the noise that will always exist and is usually suppressed but remains part of any system.   Then there is Kronos, from which the term ‘chronology’ stems. Kronos refers to linear, one directional time, business time or incremental, daily routine time. Schwartz connects Kronos to repetitive noise, such as the noise of a dripping faucet. It is repetitive, sickeningly rhythmic and does not move backwards. Finally there is Kairos, which we don’t have a modern equivalent for, but which is best described as the time of opportunity. This time is dangerous and thrilling, however it can also present itself subtly. Schwarz connects Kairos to the noise of revolution. It is the shriek of invention. The time when someone urges you to seize the moment. This form of noise to me is directly related to the Moment/um I described in the Glitch Moment(um) (Institute for Network Cultures, Amsterdam 2011). Here the concept of Moment/um exists in twofold: first of all there is the moment, which is experienced as an uncanny, threatening loss of control, casting the spectator into the void (of meaning). This moment then becomes a catalyst, with a certain momentum, a power that can change perspectives and create new forms.     Something surprising happens when the performance evening finally begins. Gieskes’ table looks like a Wunderkabinet of electronics and everybody stands very close, to catch a glimpse of his intrinsic instruments in concert mode. The audience expects the noise concert to start any time now. However, Gieskes seizes the opportunity to demonstrate the functionality of all his different instruments. In this moment, the sound of his voice transforms into a composition that bridges the gaps between the performances of each instrument. The audience is only left wondering if this is really a concert, and if so, if Gieskes voice is part the music.  

Photos Alvin Lucier Masterclass



Sonic Acts and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam hosted a masterclass with composer Alvin Lucier on Sunday 19 October. The masterclass was part of the Alvin Lucier Festival in the Stedelijk Museum. Much of Lucier's work is influenced by the science of acoustics and ideas surrounding the physical properties of sound itself: the resonance of spaces, phase interference between closely tuned pitches, and the transmission of sound through physical media. The masterclass included several performances of his works and a lecture by Lucier: ‘Once you know what is happening you don't have to think about it anymore and you can start listening.’ See for more photos our Flickr page.

Alvin Lucier Masterclass, photo by Pieter Kers
 
Alvin Lucier Masterclass, photo by Pieter Kers
 
Alvin Lucier Masterclass, photo by Pieter Kers

First Dark Ecology Journey in photos and videos



After many months of preparation and four incredible days, the first Dark Ecology journey is over. With a group of 45 artists and theorists we visited sites on both sides of the border between Arctic Norway and Russia. We were in Kirkenes in Norway and the industrial towns of Nikel and Zapolyarny in Russia. Highlights include the lecture by Timothy Morton – the philosopher who coined the term Dark Ecology –, a visit to the mine under the iron ore plant in Kirkenes, and a truly mind-blowing concert in the gymnasium of the school in Nikel, featuring hiphop from Komi and an electrifying performance by Franz Pomassl. All the impressions still have to sink in, but in the meantime we have the first photos and videos to share with you.   For the first photos see the Dark Ecology Facebook or vk page, especially check this photo album on Facebook (photos by Sonic Acts' Annette Wolfsberger) and this Flickr album by Nik Gaffney. Matthijs Munnik made a visual essay about the first Dark Ecology journey. Our Russian partner Fridaymilk made video diaries of each day, you can watch all of them below. More photos, videos and reports will be published in the coming weeks on the Dark Ecology website.   Dark Ecology Day 1 video: Creators, artists, researchers and musicians meet in friendly Kirkenes.   Dark Ecology Day 2 video: Crossing the border to Russia, excursion in foggy Nikel, visiting a fascinating factory and presentations at the culture palace.   Dark Ecology Day 3 video: Sound performance in a garage, eye-tracking of the Northern landscape and tuneful Secret Chamber in a school gym.

Hillel Schwartz - Noise and Emergency



Sonic Acts Research Series #4   On 25 October 2014 the cultural historian Hillel Schwartz will speak at the A Day of Noise event in Eindhoven. Hillel Schwartz is the author of the impressive study Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond (Zone Books, 2011). In this book he traces the cultural history of ‘noise’, from the fall of the Tower of Babel and the uproar of the Gods in Babylonian epics to crying infants heard on baby phones, the static of shortwave radio, the Big Bang, amplifier feedback, and announcements over public broadcasting systems. It covers an astounding range of cultural material, from the significance of the word ‘noise’ in 16th-century poetry to ideas about noise abatement. In 2012 we invited him to speak at the Sonic Acts festival. On 26 February 2012 he delivered a talk structured as a series of non-rhyming sonnets: Emergency in 17 Sonnets. It centred on the question: ‘In emergency, what do we hear, and how? / When time’s of the essence, what sounds keep us honest?’ We present it here as Sonic Acts Research Series #4 (text below, audio on the right).   Emergency in 17 Sonnets   Sonic Acts have summoned you here under the call sign of Emergency, though some may have wandered in this late afternoon of a Sunday when, hours ago and centuries past, canals would have been fast awake with a banging of church bells ringing in a patient heaven or warding off an impatient hell in repeated acts of incomplete confession and long prayers, docile or desperate, for evading or escaping a fate worse than death, or finding ways out of immediate perils of loss, pain, doubt.   ‘Emergency,’ the word, oddly compounds the gradual, and the urgent, emerging slowly out of noun toward demanding verb, impudent and insolent in its imminence and power, its instant jeopardy and intimidating glower. Evoking the hullabaloo of foretokened crisis and the indrawn-breath of consternation, in its calculation and its breathlessness Emergency is itself an oxymoron of forces practiced and well-arrayed, yet masses stunned, bewildered, betrayed. It is the sound of time compressed and a time of sound distressed.   We’re too familiar with these sounds: sirens, buzzers, hooting, screams; horns, yodels, shouts, and gongs; the shrieking screech of steam. All societies, many of them animal, have their own Emergency calls to flee, hide, freeze, scatter, don a life vest, climb a tree, duck and cover, dive to deep water, pretend you’re invisible or large-and-mean; cling to your mother, run to a shelter, be still as a button; dash helter-skelter; flash-mob; riot; all together, rush; raise a hue-and-cry; hush, hush...   In places industrial or densely peopled, our Emergency calls lose their urgency to the verve, flare, boom, and sweep of sounds intense or electric – a quotidian insurgency so loud, close, penetrating, or persistent we cannot make out the bearings of an instant. Urgency thus diminished, such calls don’t alarm or incite; if we hear them at all through tumult and drone they seem insubstantial; we do not take flight, nor do we shake and tremble in anticipation. Cacophony is less about sound than time, less about noise than loss of rhythm and rhyme. How differently then do we hear amid turmoil (or beroering), amid commotion and turbulence (or woeling)?   That’s the question I address in this set of sonnets. In emergency, what do we hear, and how? When time’s of the essence, what sounds keep us honest? What roils our ears in the imperative ‘now’? If sound at heart is nothing but a commotion of air, what happens to hearing when all is upended, in despair? Mine is no technical ramble on auditory display or how to crank up signals scrambled by static; no spiel for anti-terrorist wargames or annuitising the statistics of risk. Nor is’t a tirade on the banality of emergency where all news is rated according to urgency. Rather, I am asking: when push comes to shove, how do our ears vibrate, neurons stretch, minds move?   Few are neatly insulated from sonic intrusion. Those whose wealth affords them the retreat of soundproofed offices or bedrooms may still be haunted, like Proust and Pulitzer, by street tubas, low-flying planes, a bubbling sump pump. Even fewer escape the common comeuppance of tragedies unexpected, sudden reversals, twists of chance inbred in human happenstance. The thing about emergency is that, despite rehearsal, there are ever unintended consequences, loose ends, vari-ontologies, timefull incontinences. So too with hearing in extremis, how we hear is tremulous, stutter-step, uncertainly ajar.   We know that hearing can be undone by stress, whether of overweening wariness or utter shock, of hours slowly unbearably unwinding or days compressed, of waiting for what’s coming, on tenter-hooks, or slaving to a relentless schedule, listening for the least off-tick or miscue. We know that hearing is undone by stresses physical and psychic, muscular and emotional, at work or adventure, in prison under duress... domestic, professional, or environmental. Stress itself may be silent or nearly so; the ear finds where it cannot go. Stress not only limits the range of what we hear; it damps and distorts, shears and veers.   Men in the Great War under mud, blood, and bombardment, told apart the brrr, fftt, and wheeze of different guns, learned the soft sucking gargle of friends gassed at the front, the moaning of those buried alive, the groaning of cannon hauled by whinnying mules, the murky grrr of tanks, ‘the sharp little sound of jingling mess-tin chains.’ But how were they hearing when they heard ‘a rain of maggots, all through the night, above our heads, making a noise like rustling silk as they gnawed their way through some dead man’s guts’? How did acoustic simile take hold on such and so many a night in cataclysms of trenches, where you could never tell one shell from the next, though you listened with all ‘that peculiar intentness that concentrates all thought and sensation in the ear,’ your heart (as we say) in your throat?   Generals supposed it was the sheer benumbing noise, ‘one terrific tornado of noise,’ with barrages so strong that ‘head and ears ached violently,’ that turned the boys in their divisions into walking corpses, mute headlong shivering bodies unable to sleep, unwilling to dream for fear of slipping back to battle – but what triggered nightmare was often a click, thump, squoosh, bump, or dark silence that foretold concussion, before ‘the power of logical thought and the force of gravity seemed alike to be suspended.’ The acoustics of emergency lie as much with the slipknots of still small voices as with screaming horses or ‘long-drawn howls.’ So though we know, by frequency, the chartable harm of decibels, we don’t know quite how sounds register in emergency or how they re-sound in the aftermath of catastrophe.   We do know that severe stress, especially sonic, can cause a roaring in the ears, a storm of noises ostensibly self-produced, atmospheric or chthonic – noises orange or black that physicians call tinnitus. We know that sudden shrill blasts or piercing strains cause seizures in rats and, in people, migraines, with an acuity so painful it’s better not to hear at all, and a vestibular nausea or soundsickness so oppressive the inner ear cannot bear the fall of a single note, hum, or whisper, and revulses as well at psychomachia, interior debate, as if unspoken syllables could seal one’s fate. When we dare not even listen to ourselves think, how do we hear the voices of others on the brink?   Dazed or wounded, bruised or frightened, people take to opiates, tranquillisers, anxiolytics, and home-brewed nostrums to dull the pain. These also dull the hearing; over time, they’re ototoxic, killing off hair cells, prompting hallucinations as vivid in their sounding as in our image-ination. In fact, our modern arsenal of common medicines for conditions of the heart, lungs, blood, bones, veins, arteries, muscles, and intestines saps our sensitivity to higher tones, and gradually we lose our finesse at discriminating s’s, t’s, th’s and f’s. The humdrum of medicalised lives itself prepares us ill for listening when in peril.   And for those millions who’ve stood earward of quakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and typhoons, how differently must they hear the ‘natural’ sounds out beyond our windows, on prairies, in forests, by calving glaciers or cataracts, wherever the placid and tempestuous make their compacts. So emergency in sonic terms is not starkly contingent on weather or topography; it’s how we hear ourselves through time, from one to another predictably unpredictable event, more or less devastating, more or less or nowhere near sublime. How we hear when agitated is framed by where we’ve been at moments past, at other trying and traumatic instances. We hear what we have heard, and what we’d hoped never to hear again, and what we say we cannot remember.   This last is the human predicament, wrote Freud; at myth-historical root, our trauma is acoustic, sounds of that intemperate primal joy of mutual orgasm, overheard as caustic violence by the young, uncomprehending child who cannot elsewise make sense of cries so wild and sounds too of an indelible primal crime whose patricidal screams will out, one or another way, through glitches of talk and displacements of dream. With Sigmund or without, there’s a sense of sonic replay in emergency, our worst fears echoing in sounds we’d thought we’d never hear again. A split-second, and in that emergent time noise come into its own, a tell-tale, deep-time coda.   Historically, ‘noise’ comes into its own as Towers of Babel struck down, as Sanskrit rawa and raba, ‘to make a noise,’ which in English may empower the ‘rabble’ in their Brownian commotion, their éclat. Strange how we turn to noise to warn of impending crisis: a discomfitingly universal onomatopoeia of ruckus that enlists bells and drums against lightning and thunder. Sound distressed may become new music, new harmony, but our dramas are old with dissonance and blunder, and at each recurrent upheaval we bray like donkeys believing somehow that the louder we shout, the less threatening the world at our mouth. Discombobulated, we hear noise always as more than noise—as prophecy or judgment, as time at war.   At war with itself, with us, with Nature: we’re not sure. At such unstable moments, are we more upset by loudness or chaos? By sounds foreign or all-too-familiar? By words unmeaning, half-articulate, or loudly blatant? Or by sounds drastically ambiguous: a murmuring purr that could be kittens, swarms of locusts, distant bombers? Do we hear more sounds as noise, because distraught, unable to focus, unwilling to sit still and listen, or do we mistake static as strategic message, caught as we are between times, where nothing is golden and what once was linear or cyclical is now awry, awaiting some new acoustics, a magical syllabary. Terrorised, displaced, do we listen inward or outward or not at all? Are we beside ourselves with our beating hearts?   ‘State of emergency’: such a harrowing term, and when prolonged, under tyranny or famine, assassination, coup, or gang war, it poisons the ear. When a person or polity is hypervigilant for long stretches, what one hears becomes contraband or distortion, each backfire gunfire, each question a command. When emergency is vacated of its urgency and made instead an eco-political condition, listening is cowed or compromised by uncertainty and noise absorbs all that cannot be undone. People no longer know where to attend, where not, so try as best they can to keep out of earshot. Prolonged emergency, doubly oxymoronic, may be as sonically deadly as murderously ironic.   What do you hear here, in this composition called ‘Sooner or Later’? [Play fragment from Bob Ostertag: Sooner or Later (1991)]   Ostertag, I think, is asking us to hear emergency emerging from sounds of buzz and shovel, mosquito and weeping, toward an imperative, an urgency of intervention more radical than empathy. After all, isn’t this what sound is, and what sound does – arising out of the blue and fading away, coming at us as if one emergency after another, even with subtone and reverb, echo and dub, insisting on a present where each of us must let some basslines go as we choose what to follow... and so, intent, what will follow, what we hope must follow, each moment almost a crisis of the ear, that hollow never empty of prospect and potential, of rustle and rumour that must arrive at resolution: later or very much sooner.   At the end, though, whatever we know as closure must be an empty set, for it’s through emergency that our sounds, noises, and silences, conjoint, define caesura, that… pause... in ongoing beats that, slow or swift, marks how we survive to hear, and how we hear, or feel, alive. Between the Far Continents of Long Time and No Time, at the walled perimeter of gardens and silver screens, Emergency waits, more endemic than sublime, where what we hear is what we cannot clearly see, where seeming is not-wanting-to-believe, and the noise of almost nothing is more persuasive than the bells and tongues of Pentecost. So these sonnets cannot come to full conclusion, must resolve to –   Hillel Schwartz (US) is a poet, cultural historian, and, currently the Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. He is the author of the 928-page Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond (Zone, 2011). As a medical case manager, he has published Long Days Last Days: A Down-to_earth Guide for those at the Bedside (2013). As a poet and translator, he has published, with Sunny Jung, a translation of the work of the poet Kim Nam-jo, one of Korea's leading poets: Rain Sky Wind Port (Codhill Press, 2014). Schwartz’s other books include The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles (Zone, 1996); Century’s End: A Cultural History of the Fin de Siècle from the 990s through the 1990s (Doubleday, 1990); Never Satisfied: A Cultural History of Diets, Fantasies and Fat (Free Press, 1986); and The French Prophets: The History of a Millenarian Group in 18th-Century England (California, 1980). Schwartz has taught in departments of history, humanities, religious studies, literature, and communication at the University of California at San Diego, San Diego State University, and the University of Florida. His current research concerns the changing nature and notion of ‘emergency’ since the late 18th century.

Alvin Lucier Masterclass - 19 October 2014



Sonic Acts and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam are proud to host a masterclass with the composer Alvin Lucier on Sunday the 19th of October 2014. The masterclass provides a unique opportunity to gain in-depth insight into Lucier’s working process and methods.   The masterclass takes place in the wider context of the weekend-long Alvin Lucier Festival presented by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, which includes an exhibition of a number of installations like Memory Space (1970) and Carbon Copies (1989) as well as a performance of I Am Sitting in a Room (1970). The performance will be followed by an interview with Lucier by John Snijders, founder and artistic director of the Ives Ensemble. Further the Ives Ensemble will perform a number of Lucier’s more recent compositions.   Location: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Founders Room Date: Sunday 19 October 2014 Time: 11.00 - 14.00 Fee: € 20,- / € 15,- for students, including lunch   Join the masterclass: Send a short biography and motivation outlining why you would like to take part to masterclass[at]sonicacts[.]com. The application deadline is 10 October.   Alvin Lucier (1931) is a pioneer in the field of music composition, performance and sound installation. Much of his work is influenced by the science of acoustics and ideas surrounding the physical properties of sound itself: the resonance of spaces, phase interference between closely tuned pitches, and the transmission of sound through physical media. His activities have included the notation of performers' physical gestures, the use of brain waves in live performance, the generation of visual imagery by sound in vibrating media, and the evocation of room acoustics for musical purposes.   For more information about the Alvin Lucier Festival: www.stedelijk.nl

A Day of Noise - Hillel Schwartz, Remco van Bladel, Gijs Gieskes and Andre Avelas



During Dutch Design Week, on Saturday 25 October, Sonic Acts presents A Day of Noise in Temporary Art Centre (TAC) in Eindhoven. The programme dives into noise in design, daily life and music, and proposes noise as a methodology. Even though noise is a continuous and mostly unwanted aspect of the design process, most artists and designers are unaware of its potential and the influence it has on their decision-making. How can we be more aware of this potential in a world where aspects of time, constant transformation, unpredictability and uncertainty are becoming more and more important? A Day of Noise explores this question through a workshop, a programme of lectures, and a live concert. It is organised in cooperation with ArtEZ Institute of the Arts.   RSVP: facebook event   Workshop by Gijs Gieskes In the workshop with Dutch electronic musician and designer Gijs Gieskes, participants will be taught the fundamentals of circuit bending and embrace a DIY attitude towards technology. Participants will learn how to add an oscillator to a low voltage device like an old CD-player, cheap keyboard, torch or computer mouse, to transform it into an apparatus that keeps repeating the same activity.   Saturday 25 October 2014 Time: 10.00–16.00 Location: TAC Lecture Hall Temporary Art Centre (TAC), Vonderweg 1, 5611 BK Eindhoven Fee: € 20,- / € 15,- for students Join: Send a short biography and motivation to masterclass[at]sonicacts[.]com. Deadline for applications is Sunday 19 October.   Keynote lecture by Hillel Schwartz & presentation by Remco van Bladel Graphic designer Remco van Bladel’s presentation will draw analogies between contemporary graphic design and musical theories of the 20th century avant-garde. Going from the I Ching and mesostic to phase shifting, feedback, dissonance, and glitch, he touches on the question: ‘How can one define a (typo)graphic methodology based on the works of for instance John Cage, Steve Reich, John Zorn, Oval or perhaps even Merzbow?’   In his keynote lecture, cultural historian Hillel Schwartz will first talk about noise as a socio-acoustic phenomenon: how noise is conditioned historically, politically, and aesthetically by relationships between people and by convergences in the trajectories of technology, art, and culture. He will then talk about noise and time: how noise is experienced through time, and how noise affects our experience of time, which in turns affects our impression of the differences between the private and public spheres. The lecture is followed by a Q&A with Hillel Schwartz, moderated by Sonic Acts’ Arie Altena.   Saturday 25 October 2014 Time: 17.00–18.45 Location: TAC Lecture Hall Temporary Art Centre (TAC), Vonderweg 1, 5611 BK Eindhoven Entrance: €5,- / €2,50 students Tickets: regular / students   Live performances by Gijs Gieskes and André Avelãs The evening ends with live performances by noise masters Gijs Gieskes and André Avelãs, and dj Team of Orphax. Gijs Gieskes plays his own electronic devices, André Avelãs performs his work Oscillators on Band-saws, using old band-saws from the family sawmill to create low frequencies and resonating noise.   Saturday 25 October 2014 Open: 20.00 Location: TAC Tuinzaal Temporary Art Centre (TAC), Vonderweg 1, 5611 BK Eindhoven Entrance: €5,- / €2,50 students Tickets: regular / students   A Day of Noise is organised in cooperation with ArtEZ Institute of the Arts and is part of Uncertainty Studios, a week-long programme conducted by the Product and Interaction Design departments of ArtEZ Institute of the Arts, Arnhem. Uncertainty Studios showcases an exhibition by young and established product and interaction designers, a project with third-year students, and a series of lectures by international speakers on lightness, noise, fiction and psychology.   Biographies   André Avelãs (PT) is a sound artist who lives and works in Amsterdam. His works (performances, sculpture, installations, and recordings) explore the ways in which sound is produced, and how sound creates meaning in relation to space and the conditions under which it is heard. Central to his practice is a focus on sound not as a carrier of content but as a malleable material that shifts and changes in relation to the methods and machines through which it is generated, reproduced and experienced.   Remco van Bladel (NL) is a graphic designer, musician and art book publisher based in Amsterdam. He is the co-founder of Onomatopee and the online platform WdW Review. His studio focuses on editorial book design, (online) publishing projects, curatorial projects, institutional identities, interactive applications and websites. He is a typography and graphic design tutor at Art and Design, ArtEZ Institute of the Arts.   Gijs Gieskes (NL) is an electronic musician and industrial designer who builds and modifies his own electronic devices for audiovisual use. The devices are often sold as kits but can also be purchased pre-assembled.   Hillel Schwartz (US) is currently the Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. As a cultural historian he is the author of the impressive Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond (Zone, 2011). As a medical case manager, he has published Long Days Last Days: A Down-to_earth Guide for those at the Bedside (2013). As a poet and translator, he has published, together with Sunny Jung, a translation of the work of the poet Kim Nam-jo, one of Korea's leading poets: Rain Sky Wind Port (Codhill Press, 2014).

Dark Ecology programme online



The full programme for the first Dark Ecology journey (9–12 October 2014) is now online. The journey offers a packed programme with lectures, installations, performances, guided walks, concerts and workshops, in and around Kirkenes (Norway) and Nikel (Russia). An introduction to the Dark Ecology project and theme can be found here.   So, what can you expect? Keynote lectures by, amongst others, philosopher Timothy Morton, ethnographic researcher Britt Kramvig, researcher Urban Wråkberg, and political geographer Berit Kristoffersen; and presentations by designer Femke Herregraven, musician Espen Sommer Eide and sound artist Jana Winderen. Walks through Kirkenes and Nikel, guided by local experts, explore various aspects of the two towns and how these are connected to global issues. Sound artist Raviv Ganchrow gives a work-in-progress presentation of his large-scale sound installation Long Wave Synthesis, and we visit the new site-specific work krysning/пересечение/conflux by the Norwegian artist Signe Lidén. There will be two Secret Chamber evenings, the audiovisual events in unexpected locations curated by Anya Kuts and Ivan Zoloto, with live performances by Love Cult, Sergey Suokas and Phonophani, to name just a few. The journey is followed by a two-day Dark Ecology Academy, an in-depth workshop on electronic music with Austrian sound artist Franz Pomassl for aspiring, emerging and curious musicians from the border zone.   If you can't join this year’s journey to Northern Norway and Russia, don’t worry: we’ll be organising a second one next year! Or you can follow the project through Facebook or vk. Check out the 'Field Notes' section of the Dark Ecology website in the coming months for video and photo reports, interviews, reports, audio recordings and other media concerning the Dark Ecology project. And if you subscribe to the Dark Ecology newsletter, we'll make sure you are among the first to hear about future journeys and all other news pertaining to Dark Ecology (from now on only highlights will be published in the Sonic Acts newsletter).

Drilling Deep / Knowledge from Underground



SONIC ACTS RESEARCH SERIES #3   By Arie Altena   We have been studying the sky and the stars at least since Sumerian times. Looking up in the sky we look back into time. Our most advanced telescopes detect radiation from the birth of the universe – the birth of time. Beyond that there is nothing to see. We have ventured far into outer space. Voyager 1, dispatched by NASA in 1977, has left our solar system, entered interstellar space, and at a distance of approximately 19 billion kilometres from the Sun, is still transmitting data to Earth. What do we know about the ground below our feet? It is a cliché to state that we know more about the Moon than about the deep sea, but how much do we actually know about what is underground? We know about the composition of the Earth’s crust, mantle and core through remote geophysical methods. Seismic waves travel throughout the Earth, and from the behaviour of those waves we can infer the composition of the material through which they travel. We can ‘listen’ to the Earth to discover what is inside. But how deep have we actually looked into the interior of the Earth? Not very far, it seems. The deepest holes we have ever excavated only penetrate about one-third of the crust. We have never drilled deep enough to reach the mantle on which the continental and oceanic crusts rest.   Deep drilling is apparently as complex and adventurous as sending rockets into outer space, and it is likewise a feat of engineering. One problem is that the deeper you drill the hotter it gets. Temperatures easily go up to 200 degrees Celsius. Standard drilling equipment cannot handle such temperatures.   One reason we know more about the planets in our solar system and the stars than about the Earth's interior might be because our fascination for what is ‘up there’ is far greater than our interest in what is ‘down below’. Culturally what is ‘down below’ is identified with the dark and sinister: it’s the realm of the devil while ‘up there’ has generally been regarded as the realm of light and God. The charm of the subterranean has its own cultural history – Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Ludvig Holberg's Niels Klim's Underground Travels, and stories about mining by the German Romantics are well known examples. Yet, the subterranean imagination does not match the allure of what is up and out there.   The deepest natural cave that humans have descended into is the Krubera Cave in the Caucasus: 2197 metres underground. The deepest gold mines are now operating at depths over 3 kilometres, with the South African TauTona goldmine reaching 3900 metres. When we dig deep, it is usually for money: to extract from the Earth valuable minerals, oil and gas. We use these crushed dinosaurs and prehistoric plants to fuel our economy and lives. Fittingly for the current state of our world, the deepest boreholes are drilled for oil and gas. The current record, set in June 2013, is the Z-42 borehole on Sakhalin Island off the East Russian coast, which has a depth of 12,700 metres (source).

  Drilling deep is like inserting a telescope into the Earth. If you extract drill cores, you can see what is down there. We drill deep for science as well. At the moment scientific deep-drilling programmes occur out at sea. Whereas the much older continental crust can be between 25 and 70 kilometres thick, the oceanic crust is only 7 to 10 kilometres thick, so the mantle can be more easily reached. The first geologic deep-drilling programme at sea was the American Project Mohole, which aimed at drilling through the Earth crust to the Mohorovičić discontinuity, the boundary between crust and mantle. It started in 1961 as a geologic counterpart to the space race, but was stopped for lack of funding in 1966. It was continued in the Deep Sea Drilling programme, which is now the Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme. The deepest borehole in the ocean reached a depth of 3056 metres below the sea floor in May 2014.   ??????????????????????????????? Tower of the Kola Superdeep Borehole in September 2007. Photo by Andre Belozeroff, source   4 58976825 Kola Superdeep Borehole in summer 2008. Photo © andrusha084, source   Until 2008 the Kola Superdeep Borehole near the Russian mining town Zapolyarny on the Kola Peninsula was the deepest borehole in the world. No borehole is as legendary as the Kola Superdeep, which really was a telescope probing the Earth. It was drilled since the 1970s in the framework of the former Soviet Union’s programme ‘Investigation of the Continental Crust by Means of Deep Drilling’. The deepest of its boreholes, the SG-3, reached a final depth of 12,262 metres in 1989 (sometimes 12,261 is given as the correct depth. Note that the current record is just marginally deeper.)   There are not many superdeep boreholes in the continental crust that are drilled for science. Apparently the only superdeep one accessible at the moment is the KTB superdeep borehole in Windeseschenbach in northern Bavaria, Germany. It was drilled to a depth of 9101 metres between 1990 and 1994 by the German Continental Deep Drilling Program, reaching depths with temperatures of more than 260 degrees Celsius.   The Kola Superdeep is drilled at a spot that is called Vilgiskoddeoayvinyarvi, or ‘Wolf Lake on the Mountains’. The Sami are the indigenous inhabitants of this subarctic area in Russia, just across the border with Norway. Dotted with open iron ore and nickel mines and watched over by enormous smelters in the mining towns Zapolyarny and Nickel, it is a bleak, heavily polluted landscape. Even now foreign tourists are forbidden from leaving the main roads – though most likely nobody will stop you from doing so.   13 Schermafbeelding 2014-08-22 om 19.32.10 Screenshot of the exact location of the Kola Superdeep on the satellite image of Google.   When the plans for the Kola Superdeep were formulated at the end of the 1960s, Cold War competition drove geological research. When drilling near Zapolyarny began in 1970, in honour of the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s birth, the Russians were eager to smash the record for the deepest borehole. In 1979 the world record for drilling depth – 9583 metres, held since 1974 by the Bertha Rogers hole in Washita County, Oklahoma – was broken by the Kola Superdeep. In 1983, the drill passed 12,000 metres, but after reaching 12,066 metres on 27 September 1984, the drill broke down. Repairing the damage took ages, as new equipment had to be built. Drilling was eventually resumed from a depth of 7 kilometres, but slow progress over subsequent years can also be attributed to the difficulties they encountered drilling at such great depth.   5 303384953_99e1333278_o_kleiner Rock from a depth of 12,260 metres. Samples from the SG3. Photo: superdeep.pechenga.ru   6 2410183702_bb734c0e20_o The 12-kilometre mark has been reached. The plan was to continue until a depth of 15 kilometres. Photo: superdeep.pechenga.ru, source   7 2410183880_f582674f77_o Retrieving the samples from the borehole. Photo: superdeep.pechenga.ru, source   8 2410184050_b72a1b136c_o Archive of the rock samples from the Kola Superdeep in Zapolyarny, 2005. Photo: superdeep.pechenga.ru, source   9 2410184392_46078c6959_o The Kola Superdeep in better times, early 1970s. Photo: superdeep.pechenga.ru, source   In 1989 the SG-3 borehole with a diameter of 92 centimetres at the top and 21.5 centimetres at the bottom, reached a final depth of 12,262 metres. A depth of 15 kilometres had been set as the target, with estimations that they would reach 13,500 metres by the end of 1990, and 15 kilometres in 1993. But they encountered serious difficulties: temperatures in this location and at this depth were as high as 180 degrees Celsius instead of the expected 100. Meanwhile the Soviet Union was dissolved, and funding for fundamental scientific research shrank. Drilling deeper was finally deemed unfeasible and was stopped in 1992.   The reason geologists chose Kola as the location for superdeep drilling is that the Fennoscandian Shield consists of very old rock, in some places the Precambrian crystalline igneous rock is exposed on the surface. Drilling deeper reaches even older rock, and enables us to see even further back into the history of the Earth. The Kola borehole encountered 2.7 billion-year-old rocks at 12 kilometres depth. The primary scientific goal of the Kola Superdeep was fundamental geological research. The secondary goal was the prediction of natural disasters based on analysing bore cores. The Soviet Union proposed creating a network of superdeep boreholes, distributed throughout the Soviet Union: Globus. It would monitor global tectonic activity to predict earthquakes and other natural disasters. Boreholes were planned, and sometimes started, for example, in Komi, in western and eastern Siberia, near the Caspian Sea, in the Dnepr-Don region, the Caucasus and Turkmenistan. These are all mineral-rich areas, and gathering geological data that aids in identifying new oil fields and mineral deposits certainly played a role in choosing these locations.   Geologically one of the more important findings to emerge from the Kola Superdeep was that gneiss was found at 7 kilometres depth. Gneiss is metamorphic rock that forms under high temperatures and pressure. At this depth the geological models assumed a transition from granite to basalt because of a discontinuity in seismic waves. The change in seismic velocities, however, turned out to be caused by the metamorphic transition in the granite rock. Even more surprising was that rock at that depth had been thoroughly fractured and was saturated with water. This could imply that water was part of the chemical composition of the rock minerals themselves and had been forced out of the crystals and prevented from rising by an overlying cap of impermeable rock. Other finds were that the rock at a depth of 3 kilometres was similar to rocks from the moon, and at 10 kilometres, in 2.5 billion-year-old rock, fossils of organisms were found, contradicting the scientific ideas of the day.   24 ZZ_deepdrill2 Chart of the Kola Superdeep Borehole. Source   From 1994 the director of the Kola Superdeep, Dr Huberman, continued research at onsite laboratories with significantly reduced funding. But the new governments were less and less interested in the Kola Superdeep. The plan to set up a network of superdeep boreholes was long forgotten, and the willingness to finance fundamental geological research faded away. International funding could not save the Kola Superdeep. After years of setbacks, the site shut down in 2008 – the laboratories were abandoned, the equipment and metal scrapped. For a few years there was still a small office in Zapolyarny, but even that has disappeared. The drilling tower has collapsed. What remains is a ruin.   19 z_58977074 The end of a legend, July 2009. Photo © andrusha084, source   20 z_58977163 Obliteration of history, July 2009. Photo © andrusha084, source   21 z_98103043_kleiner Kola Superdeep Borehole in August 2013. Photo ©  Andrej Evsegneev, source   22 z_98103060_kleiner ‘History should be conserved’, Kola Superdeep in August 2013. Photo © Andrej Evsegneev, source   What also remains is an urban legend, the ‘Well to Hell’ hoax. It originated with a Norwegian teacher who wanted to check the gullibility of his Christian American friends. To his surprise the story spread via the Christian fundamentalist media to the tabloids. According to this tale the drilling at the Kola Superdeep had to stop when they hit a hollow space and measured extremely high temperatures. A microphone was lowered into the borehole, and picked up horrifying screams. They had drilled all the way to hell. The story can be found in various versions and guises all over the Internet. It includes dubious ‘documentaries’ on Youtube, and remixes of the sounds of hell – which are actually based on a sound recording made for fun by geologists at the Kola Superdeep. The hoax is usually the hook for documentaries and magazine articles on the Kola Superdeep – illustrated with pictures of the ruins.   The ‘Well to Hell’ hoax is easily recognisable as a scam. Rather more disturbing are pseudo-scientific articles that begin by summarising reliable geological knowledge, go on to refer to the surprising geological findings of the Kola Superdeep and the difficulties of drilling further than 12 kilometres, and then use these as a rhetorical devices to convince the reader of the impotence of science and the truth of the Bible (see Emil Silvestru, ‘Water inside Fire’, Journal of Creation, vol. 22 no. 1, 2008).   The last research team to work at the Kola Superdeep did lower sound recording devices into the borehole. But what they recorded at 3 kilometres depth (the deepest borehole of 12 kilometres was long since inaccessible) were not the sounds of hell. They did detect variances in sound levels that were quite mysterious at first. After several recordings it was evident that the variances were very regular. They posed several hypotheses, ruled out the possibility that the device might have been recording itself, and after a while had to conclude that there was only one possibility left: at 3 kilometres deep they were picking up vibrations of activity at open mines around Zapolyarny. The variances in sound levels coincided exactly with the workshifts. Anthropocene sound pollution travels 3 kilometres deep (see A. S. Belyakov (e.a.) ‘New Results of Monitoring Acoustic Noise in the Kola Superdeep Borehole’ Doklady Earth Sciences, January–February 2007, vol. 412, no. 1, pp. 97–100, http://www.springerlink.com/index/WP261XR0776NJ944.pdf)   How important were the findings from the Kola Superdeep? Responding to a journalist who wanted to know the most important outcome of the Kola Superdeep project, geologist Vladimir Belousov is reported to have exclaimed: ‘Lord! Importantly it showed that we do not know anything about the continental crust’ (quoted in www.vokrugsveta.ru/vs/article/417/. Tragically, almost none of the research results from the Kola Superdeep left the Soviet Union. The location was secret, the area remote and restricted. However, in 1984 geologists from around the world who were invited to the 27th Geological Congress in Moscow were flown to Murmansk and travelled by bus to the Kola Superdeep. A booklet was published in Russian and English to introduce and promote the research (see item 1. under ‘Delving Deeper’). It was only after the break-up of the Soviet Union that scientific articles started appearing outside Russia. In the 1990s two books with scientific papers were translated from Russian to English and published by Springer Verlag (see item 7 under ‘Delving Deeper’). They were difficult reading even by scientific standards.   The Kola Superdeep has captured the imagination more than any other borehole or geological research. Since it is a ruin, it lives on as a legend. The site could have been a museum and tourist destination, paying homage to fundamental scientific inquiry – even without glorifying the research. It could have been monument to the human yearning to know what the Earth is made of. Here’s a borehole, 12 kilometres deep. We used it, not to extract oil to fuel our cars, but to know what is there. One wonders how much this hole – now closed by a rusty metal cap – would be worth if it was a piece of land art by Walter de Maria. On the other hand, that it is a ruin, abandoned and crumbling, presents a powerfully poetic image that invites reflection on the value of scientific research. We might know more about what is inside the Earth through seismic measurements, but we have never been able to see further into the Earth than we did with the Kola Superdeep.   16 (2012) Kola Superdeep Borehole in 2012. Author: Bigest, source   18 _2012_kleiner The secured borehole in 2012. Author: Rakot13, source    

A visit to Yuri Smirnov, geologist at the Kola Superdeep

  Arie Altena   In 2012 I visited the border region between Norway and Russia for the first time, with Hilde Methi, Lucas van der Velden and Annette Wolfsberger. Roman Khorolisov, born and bred in Nikel, was our guide on the Russian side. Somehow I had found out that one of the deepest boreholes was located in the hills between Zapolyarny and Nikel: the Kola Superdeep. Though Roman knew about it, it had not captured his imagination as much as much as it had ours. We visited the local museum in Nikel, which not only has a large exhibition dedicated to the Second World War (it still brings many German war tourists to the region), but also a room dedicated to the Kola Superdeep, with photos, rock samples, and geological maps. Roman only had a rough idea of where the Superdeep was located. On our way to Zapolyarny we took an unpaved side road near a mysterious antenna, and continued driving along it for several kilometres, thinking we were on the right road. The weather deteriorated and the thickening snow halted our progress. In the distance we could see a tower, but it was one of the mines and not the Kola Superdeep. We were still fairly close to the site, which was probably just a kilometre and a half away on the other side of the hill, but we couldn’t find it. To make up for not finding the Kola Superdeep we visited an abandoned open mine.   10 HPIM2703 (1) May 2012. We thought we were on the right road to the Kola Superdeep. The weather made it impossible to continue by car. The Kola Superdeep was just a kilometre and a half away on the other side of the hills but we couldn’t find it. Photo: Arie Altena   In 2013 we returned to Zapolyarny, and visited Yuri Smirnov. Smirnov was the head of geological research on the Kola Superdeep team. He had analysed the extracted rock from bore cores. Newspaper articles from the 1980s and 1990s usually introduced him as the scientist who hands a journalist a rock exclaiming enthusiastically: ‘This comes from 12 kilometres deep, imagine!’ Since the former director of the Kola Superdeep, Dr Huberman, died a few years ago, Smirnov is the person to interview about the Kola Superdeep.   23 z_p0000006 Geologist Yuri Smirnov with the archive of rocks. Photo: superdeep.pechenga.ru, source   Smirnov greeted us eagerly, extremely happy that people had finally come to enquire about this work. Over the past few years, he said, no one had come to find out about the Kola Superdeep, nobody seemed to care anymore. He welcomed us into his small flat in Zapolyarny. Geological maps covered the walls, the bookshelves overflowed with rocks and geological papers. They also held his collection of mugs, various paraphernalia, and a portrait of Stalin.   25 ZZ_P1090008_kleiner Chart of the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Yuri Smirnov’s flat, 2013. Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   26 ZZ_P1090015_kleiner Yuri Smirnov shows his photographs, 2013. Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   27 ZZ_P1090017_kleiner Yuri Smirnov shows the photo taken when the 11-kilometre mark was reached. Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   28 ZZ_P1090025_kleiner Yuri Smirnov in front of his shelves with rocks. Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   29 ZZ_P1090071_kleiner A gift made in 1984 with rock samples from the Kola Superdeep. Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   An old man, living alone with his many memories, Smirnov was actually just as eager to talk about his World War II experiences as about the Kola Superdeep. As a 13-year-old boy he ran away from home to fight in the north in the Second World War. Smirnov is a joyful and colourful character. He showed his photographs, recited his poetry – including poems about the Kola Superdeep – talked about his collection of mugs, while Roman Khorolisov interjected with our questions we had prepared. Questions that – in retrospect – he’d probably already answered many times.   Smirnov came to the Kola Superdeep in September 1970, just after the drilling had started, on 24 May. He was born in Mirhorod in Ukraine and went to university in Chisinau, now Moldavia. In Kola he was appointed Deputy Chief Geologist, and as such was the head of the laboratory of geological and geophysical research. Proudly he told us that he was awarded a medal honouring Vladimir Lenin for his work. We asked him why they chose a spot near Zapolyarny for the deep drilling programme.   ‘Because here a borehole would pass through the most ancient layers of rock. That is why they chose the Baltic shield, and not a location in Ukraine or elsewhere. This is where the surface is closest to the mantle, and deep drilling would go through different layers of the most ancient rock.’   ‘Are there similar locations elsewhere?’   ‘A similar location exists in Canada. But the location in Kola was also chosen because the geological research would simultaneously reveal the structure of the Pechenga copper and nickel fields. That was important, as the existing mines were beginning to be exhausted.’ He continued to explain the history of mining in the area: ‘Nickel exploitation around Nikel was opened up through research by Finnish geologists, and was first developed by a Canadian company. It was only after the Nazis were expelled from Russia that the territory became part of the Russian Pechenga region; from 1922 till 1944 it was Finnish. At that time geologists were drilling for minerals as well, but they did not find new sources. This can happen. When we started drilling the Kola Superdeep, we crossed two ore-bearing strata in less than a year. I documented those layers.’   ‘Do you consider reaching the depth of more than 12 kilometres the main achievement of the Kola Superdeep?’   ‘Of course. It was such a difficult engineering problem. The main goal of the project however was to study the structure of the crust. It was believed that there were three layers – sedimentary, granite and basalt – that all lie on top of the mantle. This was just a hypothesis at the time, based on seismic data. What we found was that at a depth where we expected a transition of granite to basalt, there was no such transition. That was a very important discovery. A second aim of the project was to predict any kind of environmental or natural disaster. So the main goals were about structure and foresight.’   ‘Wasn’t there a plan to set up a network of boreholes throughout the Soviet Union, or even the entire Earth?’   ‘Yes, this was project Globus. We offered it to the world. Geologists from all over the world came to visit us when Moscow hosted the 27th Geological Congress. They came because the members of the Congress set one condition: it could only take place if they visited Kola. The idea behind Globus was also to research the structure of the continental crust, of course.’   After leaving the Kola Superdeep Borehole, Smirnov continued to work in the Altai Mountains, in Karelia, and in Apatity on the Kola Peninsula. He is retired now. That the site of the Kola Superdeep is a ruin fills him with sadness. He deplores the lack of money for fundamental research as tragic, especially because it would not have been that expensive to continue researching at the Kola Superdeep, had it been kept in working condition. There were two unique sets of drills, made in Yekaterinenburg – then Sverdlovsk – that according to him could have penetrated to a depth of 15 kilometres. ‘Alas’, he said, ‘there is no interest, all the resources have shifted to drilling for oil and gas in the Barents Sea – where they use the knowledge of drilling gained at the Kola Superdeep. This is where they put the money.’ On the question of we should continue explorations like the one undertaken at the Kole Superdeep he replied with a resounding ‘Yes’.   14 Smirnow62_AW_kleiner Yuri Smirnov shows his medals at the end of our visit in June 2013. (In the background is his brother, a former professional wrestler, who was visiting for the first time in many years; Yuri Smirnov's collection of mugs is to the right). Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   15 Smirnow67_AW_kleiner Yuri Smirnov with a mug depicting the devil below the Kola Superdeep. Sitting next to him is his brother. Photo Annette Wolfsberger   30 ZZ_P1090072 One of Yuri Smirnov’s mugs, depicting an angel in the sky above the Kola Superdeep and a devil below. Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   Above his couch hangs a painting showing the Kola Superdeep site, the borehole, with the devil at the bottom of the borehole. Smirnov commissioned it. In his collection of coffee mugs there is one with a similar picture. He finds its absurd that people actually believe in a hell with a devil. He believes in science, in the possibility of finding out more, and the potential of fundamental research to enrich our understanding of the Earth. As a poet Smirnov probably understands the power of images and how an image sticks in the human mind. The bogus story of ‘drilling to hell’ has stuck in people’s memories, and along with its record-breaking depth, has helped to make the Kola Superdeep a legend in media-saturated minds, when it really should be because of the geological findings.    

Delving deeper / References and further reading

  The Kola Super-deep Borehole (guide) The English guide to the Kola Superdeep Borehole, published by the USSR Ministry of Geology for the 1984 International Geology Congress in Moscow. The booklet can be found in some university libraries. Yuri Smirnov showed it to us during our 2013 visit. Annette Wolfsberger photographed all the pages.   History of the Kola Superdeep superdeep.pechenga.ru ‘Official’ site of the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russian, with Russian newspaper and magazine articles about the Kola Superdeep and many historical photos.   Russian television documentary (2012) on the Kola Superdeep You can find many clips about the Kola Superdeep on Youtube. Most of them are rather short, and don’t provide any information beyond what can be learned from Wikipedia. The worst ones sensationalise the bogus ‘Well to Hell’ story, or claim that finding water at a depth of 12 kilometres proves the Bible is true. This Russian documentary made for public television is entitled Kola Superdeep, Road to Hell, but it is informative and shows the current state of the site. Yuri Smirnov appears in it.   English and Russian entries on Kola Superdeep on Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kola_Superdeep_Borehole The English and Russian Wikipedia pages on the Kola Superdeep provide basic information. Check the ‘references’ and ‘further reading’ sections for some of the scientific articles on geological and geophysical findings at the Kola Superdeep.   Panoramio photos of Kola Superdeep www.panoramio.com/map/ Google’s geolocation-oriented photo-sharing website Panoramio has recent photos of the Kola Superdeep and is a good tool to explore the area. The Kola Superdeep ruin is clearly visible in the satellite images on Google Maps.   Hoppla, wit haben die Hölle angebohrt www.spiegel.de/einestages/russischer-tiefendrill-hoppla-wir-haben-die-hoelle-angebohrt-a-947191.html Article (in German) published in Der Spiegel with a fine selection of photographs, the basic history of the Kola Superdeep, and an explanation of the ‘Sounds from Hell’ hoax.   Collections of scientific articles Fuchs, K.; Kozlovsky, E.A., Krivtsov, A.I., and Zoback, M.D. (1990). Super-Deep Continental Drilling and Deep Geophysical Sounding. Berlin: Springer Verlag. p. 436. ISBN 978-0-387-51609-7. Kozlovsky, Ye.A (1987). The Superdeep Well of the Kola Peninsula. Berlin: Springer Verlag. p. 558. ISBN 978-3-540-16416-6. Two English books (translated from Russian) with scientific articles on the findings of the Kola Superdeep. You can find them in a university library, or as a PDF in the back alleys of the Internet.   More scientific articles http://scholar.google.com/scholar?as_vis=1 Google Scholar gives ‘about 1380’ hits for the search term ‘Kola Superdeep Borehole’. So far in 2014 the Kola Superdeep has been referenced in 49 scientific articles.   International Continental Scientific Drilling Program www.icdp-online.org/home/ Overview of continental scientific drilling projects, platform of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences.   Lotte Geeven: The Sound of the Earth www.geeven.nl/post/67567627667 In 2013 Dutch multimedia artist Lotte Geeven made sound recordings in the deepest accessible borehole, the 9101 metre deep KTB Superdeep Borehole in Windischeschenbach (Germany). Her work The Sound of the Earth uses these sounds from the Earth’s interior.   Notes on the Underground mitpress.mit.edu/books/notes-underground Rosalind Williams’ book Notes on the Underground. An Essay on Technology, Society and the Imagination, (2008, Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press), does not mention the Kola Superdeep, but it presents a fascinating overview of the ‘subterranean imagination’.   On an Ungrounded Earth punctumbooks.com/titles/ungrounded-earth/ Probably this is the only philosophy book to at least mention the Kola Superdeep. Woodard attempts to formulate a new geophilosophy.   MF3 Part of this research was generously funded by the Mondriaan Foundation in 2013. Many thanks to Roman Khoroshilov  and Pavel Borisov.

Dark Ecology First Edition from 9 to 12 October 2014



Kirkenes - Nikel - Zapolyarny   The first edition of the art and research project Dark Ecology will be held between 9 and 12 October 2014 in the border zone between Norway and Russia, with events scheduled in Kirkenes (NO), Nikel (RU) and Zapolyarny (RU). Programme highlights include a keynote lecture by American philosopher Timothy Morton, author of Ecology without Nature (2007) and Hyperobjects (2013), several commissioned works, by sound artists Signe Lidén and Raviv Ganchrow, artist/designer Femke Herregraven and photographer Marijn de Jong, and new ‘Secret Chamber’ concerts.   Dark Ecology is a three-year art, research and commissioning project, initiated by the Dutch Sonic Acts and Kirkenes-based curator Hilde Methi, and in collaboration with Norwegian and Russian partners. Dark Ecology unfolds through research, the creation of new artworks, and a public programme that will be presented in the zone on both sides of the border in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The programme for 2014 includes lectures, presentations of newly commissioned artworks, guided walks, a discursive programme, concert evenings, and a workshop.   Dark Ecology is informed by the idea that ecology is ‘dark’ (as the American theorist Timothy Morton has argued), because it invites – or demands – that we think about our intimate interconnections with, for instance, iron ore, snowflakes, plankton, or radiation… Ecology does not privilege the human, it is not something beautiful, and it has no real use for the old concept of Nature. What we now know about the impact of human beings on the planet has led to the need to rethink the concepts of nature and ecology, and exactly how humans are connected to the world. This rethinking occurs in philosophy as well as in the arts.   Though these issues are relevant anywhere in the world, they are especially pertinent in the Barents Region with its pristine nature, industrial pollution and open-pit mining. Speculation on global warming fuels local economic growth, as the prospects for both the exploitation of the oil and gas reserves below the Barents Sea and the trade through the Northern Sea route are rising. Disparate interests and ‘approaches’ from both sides of the border have to negotiate. This interaction informs the Dark Ecology project, and is a starting point to invite artists and theorists to develop new approaches and new works.   Preliminary Journey Programme The journey starts on Thursday 9 October in Kirkenes with a symposium featuring a keynote lecture by Timothy Morton, and several guided walks investigating different aspects of Kirkenes. In the evening the first ‘Secret Chamber’ concert, curated by Ivan Zoloto and Anya Kuts from Petrozavodsk, will take place at a secret location. It features Chikiss, one of the most versatile artists on the Russian electro-indie scene, and slow ambient techno by Sergey Suokas.   On Friday 10 October the programme crosses the border to Nikel. Different aspects of Nikel, its history, industry, culture and environment are explored through guided walks, followed by the second part of the symposium with, amongst others, Dutch artist/designer Femke Herregraven presenting her latest research commissioned for Dark Ecology.   Nikel and Zapolyarny are the locations for the programme on Saturday 11 October, which include a visit to the new site-specific work by the Norwegian artist Signe Lidén. The symposium focuses on sound art and ‘dark acoustics’ and includes artist presentations by amongst others Espen Sommer Eide, Raviv Ganchrow, and Jana Winderen. The second ‘Secret Chamber’ concert has live performances by Love Cult from Petrozavodsk, and ambient hip-hop all the way from Komi by Mnogoznaal and TILMIL (more to be confirmed).   On Sunday 12 October Dark Ecology returns to Kirkenes with a first work-in-progress presentation of the large-scale sound installation Long Wave Synthesis by Raviv Ganchrow, commissioned by Dark Ecology, and a closing keynote speech.   The trip is followed by a two-day Alternative Academy in Kirkenes on 13 and 14 October 2014: an intensive workshop on electronic music with Austrian sound artist Franz Pomassl for aspiring, emerging and curious musicians from the border zone.   Anyone who is interested in participating in the journey or the alternative academy can contact the organisation by e-mail: darkecology[at]sonicacts[dot]com, and do so before 10 September. If you cannot be there in person, you can follow the project on the Dark Ecology website or Facebook.   Dark Ecology Online Platform The results of the Dark Ecology explorations will be distributed in the Barents Region and internationally. From September onwards an online platform will offer documentation and reflection, through interviews, travel reports, videos, photos and audio recordings.   Partners Dark Ecology is curated and produced by Sonic Acts and Norwegian curator Hilde Methi in collaboration with the Russian partners Full of Nothing (Petrozavodsk), Fridaymilk (Murmansk) and Roman Khoroshilov (Nikel). Dark Ecology is generously funded by BarentsKult, Public Art Norway (KORO), Arts Council Norway, Creative Industries Fund NL, PNEK (Production Network for Electronic Art, Norway), Mondriaan Fund and Finnmark County Municipality.

Dark Ecology Journey 9 to 12 October 2014



Starting this September, Sonic Acts' project Dark Ecology will highlight the border zone between Northern Norway and Russia around the Arctic Circle – the so-called Barents Region – with a three-year art, research and commissioning programme.   We are very excited to announce that the first Dark Ecology journey into the region will take place from 9–12 October 2014. The four-day journey will bring together international artists, researchers and curators and is open to anyone with an interest in the topic. It will showcase new commissioned works, including a major site-specific installation by Raviv Ganchrow, and presentations by researchers and philosophers such as Timothy Morton.   If you are interested in joining the journey or have other questions, please contact us: darkecology [at] sonicacts [dot] comFollow the project on Facebook and be among the first to hear about the full programme, the sites that will be visited and where to book your tickets and accommodation.   The border zone of Northern Norway and Russia is a region where you can feel, see and smell how human civilization is inextricable from industrial pollution in the heart of sub-arctic nature. Our knowledge of the impact human beings have on the Earth has resulted in a necessary re-evaluation of the concepts of nature and ecology from philosophical and artistic perspectives. The issue of redefining nature, ecology and the connections between humans and other things in the world is relevant everywhere, but it is especially appropriate in the Barents Region with its pristine nature, industrial pollution and open-pit mining. The anticipated impact of global warming fuels local economic growth as the prospects for both the exploitation of the oil and gas reserves beneath the Barents Sea and the trade through the Northern Sea route are increasing with the melting of the ice sheets. The diverging interests and approaches from both sides of the border have to negotiate. This mix forms the background and input for Dark Ecology.   We borrowed the term Dark Ecology from American theorist Timothy Morton. He has argued that ecology is not something beautiful, has no real use for the old concept of Nature, and does not favour the human. In that sense ecology is dark. It invites – or demands – us to think how we are intimately interconnected to iron ore, snowflakes, plankton, or radiation.   In this project Sonic Acts uses the dark ecology theme as the starting point for research and new artworks that will be presented in the border zone in a public programme – in 2014, 2015 and 2016 – that includes lectures, presentations and concerts, as well as workshops and masterclasses. Dark Ecology will be documented online and offer reflection through interviews, travel reports, videos, photos and audio recordings.   Dark Ecology is curated and produced by Sonic Acts and Norwegian curator Hilde Methi. It is generously funded by BarentsKult, Public Art Norway (KORO), Creative Industries Fund NL, PNEK (Production Network for Electronic Art, Norway) and Finnmark County Municipality.

Anthony McCall Masterclass - 29 September 2014



In close collaboration with EYE Film Institute, Sonic Acts will host a masterclass with Anthony McCall on Monday 29 September 2014.   The masterclass provides a unique opportunity for professional artists, musicians, composers, film makers, academics and advanced students to gain in-depth insight into McCall’s concepts, working process and methods. More detailed information about the masterclass will be provided in the first week of September.   Join the Masterclass Send a short biography and motivation outlining why you would like to take part in this masterclass to masterclass [at] sonicacts [dot] com now! Deadline for applications is 21 September.   Fee The fee for taking part in the masterclass is € 25 (students € 20). Catering will be provided.   Anthony McCall (UK/US) has a cross-disciplinary practice in which film, sculpture, installation, drawing and performance overlap. McCall was a key figure in the avant-garde London Film-makers Co-operative in the 1970s and his earliest films are documents of outdoor performances that were notable for their minimal use of the elements, most notably fire. He gained international recognition through his 'solid light' film series, notably Line Describing A Cone (1973) which was presented at the Sonic Acts festival in 2010.   The Anthony McCall masterclass is generously funded by the Creative Industries Fund NL.

An Evening With Don Foresta



Sonic Acts presents research artist and art theoretician Don Foresta. He will be giving a talk in Amsterdam on Wednesday, 4 June and a talk in Arnhem on Thursday, 5 June. Foresta’s talk in Amsterdam is entitled ‘Communication Space & Change in Representation’, and is about the collective space made up of all the means of communication we have at our disposal. This is where society sees and understands itself, where each new generation learns its values – how to deal and interact with other human beings. What is the role of art and the media in constructing this communication space?   Don Foresta's career as a research artist and art theoretician spans over 40 years. He has pioneered the use of new technologies as creative tools since the early 1970s, with recent attention to online creation and archiving. Don Foresta was the director of the American Cultural Center in post-‘68 Paris from 1971 to 1976. There he exposed the French audience to works by Nam June Paik and the Vasulkas, and invited French artists to set-up collaborations between art and electronic technology.   In 1976 he founded the video art department of ENSAD (École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs) in Paris, the first such department in Europe. He worked for Nam June Paik and collaborated for several years with a.o. Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz. In 1981 he organized his first online image exchange by telephone between the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT and the American Center in Paris. These exchanges were followed by experiments with telephone, fax, minitel and the internet. He was a commissioner (with Tom Sherman and Roy Ascott) to the 42nd Venice Biennial in 1986, building one of the first computer networks between artists. His work Mondes Multiples (1990) is recognised as a landmark in the fields of art and science. He has contributed to many publications and has written about philosophical parallels between art and science in a period of profound change.   Foresta was also a Professor at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts - Paris/Cergy. He is currently coordinating a permanent, very high bandwidth network for artistic, educational and cultural experimentation: MARCEL. MARCEL now has 150 members in 22 countries, 40 of whom are connected permanently over a multicasting platform.   Don Foresta ‘Communication Space & Change in Representation’ Wednesday 4 June 2014 at 19.30 hrs STEIM, Utrechtsedwarsstraat 134, Amsterdam Admission fee: EUR 5,00 / EUR 2,50 (students/CJP/65+) Tickets on sale at the door   Don Foresta 'Reflections On The Now' Public Lecture with Juha Van ’t Zelfde, Don Foresta and Jonas Lund (via Skype) Thursday 5 June at 15.00 hrs ArtEZ Academy of The Arts Arnhem Auditorium, Oude Kraan 74, Arnhem Free entrance

Science Fiction by Omar Muñoz Cremers and Arc



SONIC ACTS RESEARCH SERIES #1   With The Absence of Light by Omar Muñoz-Cremers & The Dark Universe ARC panel videos   The publication of The Absence of Light inaugurates the Sonic Acts Research Series. Sonic Acts commissioned the short science fiction story The Absence of Light from Omar Muñoz-Cremers for the afternoon event on space debris earlier this year.   The Sonic Acts Research Series is a series of online dossiers devoted to specific aspects of the research that Sonic Acts conducts for its activities. Commissioned texts and interviews with featured artists and speakers are combined with films and material from previous Sonic Acts events. One such dossier will be published every month. The texts will eventually be made available in various formats to accommodate different reading and browsing tastes.   Dutch author Omar Muñoz-Cremers specialises in science fiction and essays on sociological themes that are often related to music culture. On Twitter he describes himself as ‘author, copy writer, conceptualist, sociologist and Head of Theory’. He contributed essays to the Sonic Acts publications Travelling Time (2012) – about time travel in science fiction – and The Dark Universe (2013) – about retromania and the lost idea of the future in Internet culture. The Absence of Light is pure science fiction, set in the distant future, with a protagonist whose well-paid job is to clean up the space debris that endangers space travel: remnants of spent rocket stages and old satellites, dust from solid rocket fuel and flakes of paint.   The space debris and space junk orbiting the Earth is an actual, growing problem for satellites and space exploration. (This probably entered the popular imagination with Alfonso Cuarón’s film Gravity in which the characters played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock have to take cover from hurtling space debris). The European Space Agency (ESA) is investigating how to deal with this – as you can find out on their website, and in the video ‘The Space Debris Story 2013’.   ‘How to imagine the future’? In fact that was the subject of the panel we organised in cooperation with Simon Ings of ARC – ‘a magazine of futures and fiction from the makers New Scientist’. Four writers, all of them ‘steeped’ in science fiction – though not pure SF writers in a narrow genre-based sense – examined different aspects of imagining the unknown. Frank Swain talked about the importance of the uncharted to stimulate the imagination: undiscovered lands can be filled with the creatures of our dreams. Tim Maugham pre-premièred the film that he made for his short story Watching Paint Die, set in a not-too-distant future London in which QR-codes and Augmented Reality rule the underground culture. Simon Ings – whose new novel Wolves came out a couple of weeks ago – referred to both the Soviet science of Alexander Bogdanov and the medieval Arabian scientist Al-Haytham, founder of the science of optics, to make a point about imagination, embracing the unknown, and science. Alastair Reynolds, a science fiction author with a solid background in science, talked about the relations and differences between the imaginations of science fiction and those of science.   If you missed it at the time, the video documentation of this panel is now online. You can also read Simon Ings’ text ‘Black and White’ in the Sonic Acts publication The Dark Universe.   Soon we will make the bilingual (English & Dutch) edition of The Absence of Light / De afwezigheid van licht You available as download in our webshop. --------------------------------------------------------------------------   THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT Omar Muñoz-Cremers   Orbiting Europa, waiting for the next convoy, his thoughts wandered to his childhood hero Alexander the Great. These days it was rarely the Alexander of the famous battles and increasingly the movement of his army, a roaming city from which different languages and smells rose. His thoughts did not linger for long with the frontline, the horsemen with their shining armors and unforgettable names. He moved towards the dark alleys of the city, the rear end of this military force, where order was hardly upheld. The last footsteps from which a trail arose of food rests, feces, extinguished fires and the bodies of dice players who had been abandoned by the goddess Tyche for too long. Finally the vultures would land.   The convoy would silently pass Jupiter in a few hours, still four planets removed from a point that would launch them far into the universe. Here at the edge of the solar system scientists had created an opening into time and space with which colonists were transported to new worlds. The route from Earth to The Gate formed the longest highway in the history of mankind. As soon as a convoy passed he and his colleagues started to move in order to clean the way. Asteroids were destroyed, scraps of the space age collected, the bodies of unfortunates recovered. An object the size of his fist moving aimlessly at just enough speed was a deadly projectile which could mercilessly penetrate any vessel, killing everyone on board.   That’s when work got interesting. In the bars on the moons of Jupiter, which his colleagues frequented to pass the time, the salvaging of ships was a perennial topic of conversation. Enfolded in opiate smoke they traded legends of wrecked ships inhabited by billionaires who, surrounded by treasures, were embalmed by empty cold space. Their daily work was paid handsomely and a favorable salvage job guaranteed early retirement. Insurance companies would pay out generous sums for securing complete wrecks, but the real jackpot consisted of finding artworks onboard. Naturally with the rise of intergalactic colonialism a new smuggling route had been created instantaneously. According to a hastily drafted U.N. resolution on cultural heritage it was forbidden to send artworks out of the Earth’s atmosphere before living conditions became unbearable. Many a lost painting, disappeared in the art thefts of the past centuries, was retrieved during the first wave of accidents. In drunken conversations stories were often retold of perforated Picasso’s and amateurishly packaged masterpieces which were ruined by radiation.   It remained a fascinating sight. From a distance the true size of a mothership was hard to estimate. A silent city of countless lights pushed into motion by the largest discharge of energy the human race had ever produced. The boosters, extinguished after launch, were followed by a convoy of ships consisting of a host of smaller ships inhabited by smugglers, fugitives and the wealthy…and after that, just for now invisible, a trail of waste. The first cleaners slowly moved into action.   As a young boy he had strongly identified with the despair Alexander felt confronting an army that refused to go further, which was fed up with the unknown. Years in space had increasingly shifted his sympathy towards the troops who longed for home.   Nightfall, the clear sky of winter breaks, with dark blue clouds at the horizon suggesting a mountain range. Hardly more than a image. Vaguely remembered skies and winters which probably didn’t exist anymore. Strange how you couldn’t imagine in advance missing just that particular feeling of cold air against your face.   It was never told if the Macedonians, returning without their king, had really felt joy to see their fatherland again. How many of them had truly found peace? Those who left for the new worlds seldom returned. The deadening return trip through the solar system formed a barricade which kept everyone but the sickliest of nostalgics from returning. Besides, the sporadic messages which were received from the colonies exuded an almost universal relief concerning the liberation from the pressures of overpopulation. A life without pollution, continuous conflicts, without the excess of rules and laws. Humanity was reborn.   *   The man with unmistakable Chinese features spoke in true new-Amsterdam dialect: “I can’t take these.” His gloved hand moved carefully over the stones in which faintly glowing green veins were visible. Two years ago they were mined from an slowly revolving asteroid on the intergalactic route. “You see, the material is…unknown, therefore priceless. Certainly for me.” With a gesture he separated the stones from the other finds. “These though,” a sparkle appeared in his crystal blue eyes, “…enough for a life on a new planet. A very good life.” A new planet. Why would he? He stepped into the permanent rain peopled by an oppressive crowd he could not get used to ever since returning. The maximum stay of five years in space as a cleaner of space debris had shortened his life expectancy sufficiently. Intensive therapy would repair some of the damage but hardly enough to cross the solar system any time soon. But the biggest barrier was psychological. Since his return he had trouble sleeping, the darkness of sleep an echo of the emptiness of space. Yet he also feared light. For a long time he wore sunglasses at night, a precaution as important as the training program that would get his muscles back in shape for normal gravity. During the preparation for life in space you learned that one seldom dreams of Earth out there. He couldn’t remember one single dream. The years had passed away in short cycles of waking and sleeping without any noticeable dream work.     Within week his job transfer was approved. Once he arrived at the edge of the desert the dreaded blinding did not take place when he slowly took of his glasses. The sun detonated and in the explosion a reservoir of dream matter flooded his being, the neurons in his brain appeared to sing while billions of connections flashed in a moment that left words smoldering somewhere far away. When he regained consciousness he saw that the desert of mirrors was real after all. From the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean row after row of solar panels formed the only human structure which could be observed from space with the naked eye. Even a cloud of debris could never completely cover this scar of light. Here the cleaners who didn’t leave for the colonies or lost themselves in the labyrinth of pension were sought after. They were easily recognized: during routine jobs they stayed behind in the jeeps, silently battling the pulsating sun which hardly was contained by the sunglasses and tinted windows. At dawn and sunset they came out. Their knowledge was activated for the bigger jobs, the recyclable fragments, unknown objects or possible antique remnants of illustrious satellites.     “It’s only a fifty kilometer drive, Ragab. You think we could take that route?” His Egyptian colleague behind the wheel studied him closely. “Siwa, right? Should be no problem. No doubt we will run into enough jobs with all the activity of the past days. But let me tell you this. As a boy, I think I must have been seven, eight years old; I often used to wander with my grandfather past the necropolis close to our village. Most of it had been blown away by the wind a long time ago, except a reasonably intact complex built high up against a hill. At the bottom of the steep hill there was an opening, something resembling a doorway. So every time we walked past I nagged my grandfather that we should enter it. In my fantasy I saw steps and secret hallways that would eventually lead us to the complex. Perhaps even a forgotten treasure chamber? A path nobody had dared to explore in thousands of years. One day my grandfather apparently had enough of my nagging and we stood in front of the opening. I took a look inside and at the bottom of the steps I could make out an enormous pile of plastic and rotting garbage. An important moment, you know? The moment the hammer of reality comes down. Cold. Hard. The world of grown-ups.” Standing on the hill they had a view of the ruins surrounded by the oasis and behind it the rows of panels that slowly cooling, absorbed the hazy starlight without any interest. They wandered through the remnants of doors which according to archeologists had led to the oracle. “You see, the fire from heaven is a phenomenon of the distant past.” He smiled immediately, realizing the irony of his words. “Man was never that important. But who knows, we are still alive.” Later in his sleeping bag he studied the veined space rocks. What had he expected, that a mission would be completed when he placed them on the correct spot, just like in one of the computer games from his youth? That they would suddenly start to speak in tongues? An ancient language reborn? In the morning they silently drove towards the latest impacts. In search of new promises.  

Stagiair online archief gezocht!



Van september 2014 tot maart 2015 Kantoordagen: Paradiso Amsterdam, 3-4 dagen per week (in overleg)  Stagevergoeding: 250 euro bruto bij een fulltime aanstelling     Over Sonic Acts Sonic Acts organiseert een tweejaarlijks festival op het snijvlak van kunst, technologie, muziek en wetenschap. Het festival omvat een groot aantal optredens en performances, een omvangrijke internationale wetenschapsconferentie, een uitgebreid filmprogramma en een expositie en vindt plaats op verschillende plekken in Amsterdam zoals Paradiso, OT301, Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, de Balie en Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. De komende festivaleditie staat gepland voor februari 2015. Ook is Sonic Acts een platform voor onderzoek, ontwikkeling en productie op gebied van kunst, technologie, muziek en wetenschap en organiseert ze vanuit die rol lezingen, performances en workshops het hele jaar door.   Omschrijving stageplek Sonic Acts is een kleine organisatie waarbinnen een stagiair(e) als volwaardig lid van het team functioneert. Hou er rekening mee dat dit een werkstage is, waarbij het ontsluiten van het archief alsmede de lopende activiteiten voorop staan. Voor eigen onderzoeken of aparte opdrachten is er nauwelijks tot geen ruimte. Sonic Acts werkt samen met vooraanstaande experts (zoals kunstenaars, wetenschappers, journalisten, producenten) en vele muziekorganisaties en media (podia, opleidingen, muziek¬ en social media sites en muziekbladen). Deze contacten en samenwerkingsverbanden maken een stage bij de Sonic Acts waardevol en geven een goede kans om inhoudelijke ervaring op te doen van kennis en ervaring. Het archief van Sonic Acts bestaat uit video, audio en foto's en betreft voornamelijk registraties van concerten, lezingen en documentatie van installaties alsook interviews met sprekers en kunstenaars. Sonic Acts zoekt een stagiaire voor het online ontsluiten van het video- en audio archief.   Werkzaamheden stagiair(e) De stagiair(e) draagt zorg voor het ontsluiten van bestaand foto- en video-materiaal, alsmede geluidsopnames van Sonic Acts; • Monteren van video- & geluidmateriaal • Bewerken van beeld-, geluids- & videomateriaal • Contentbeheer van het online photo- en videoarchief (Flickr & Vimeo) • Input geven op het huidige archief & aandragen verbeterpunten bij de webdeveloper • Contentafstemming met betrokken kunstenaars & sprekers • Eventuele documentatiewerkzaamheden voor programma-activiteiten in 2014 & tijdens het festival in 2015   Functievereisten • Achtergrond in audiovisuele media, nieuwe media, digitale/online communicatie (hbo of universiteit) • Een proactieve houding, creatief denkvermogen, zelfstandig kunnen werken • Bereidheid om ook buiten kantoortijden te werken • Inhoudelijke affiniteit met de Sonic Acts programmering en muziek en kunst in het algemeen • Uitstekende vaardigheden op het gebied van video- en geluidsmontage • Ervaring met programma’s als Final Cut Pro, Adobe Illustrator en Photoshop • Goede kennis van Office pakket (Word, Excel) en Wordpress (CMS) • Uitstekende beheersing van de Nederlandse en Engelse taal in woord en geschrift • Precies en nauwkeurig werken   Ben jij wie we zoeken? Stuur dan je CV en motivatiebrief uiterlijk 1 juni 2014 naar Annette Wolfsberger via annette[at]paradiso.nl. Voor vragen over de vacature kun je ook bij haar terecht via 020-6264521. In overleg is een eerder of later begin van de stage mogelijk.  

Sonic Acts at Donaufestival



The Sonic Acts/Kontraste team is proud to present two works as part of the Donaufestival, which takes place on 25 and 26 April and from 30 April to 3 May 2014 in Krems, Austria.   Finnbogi Petursson prepared his latest installation OFF - 3HZ for the Kapitelsaal in Klangraum Minoritenkirche. This site-specific work was realised in cooperation with Kontraste 2013 and AIR – Artist in Residence Krems, and deals with states of consciousness and brainwave frequencies in the transition between slow-wave sleep/dream phases and awakening. The floor of the Kapitelsaal is covered with waterproof foil to form a basin that is filled with water. Sound waves are transmitted to the surface of the water and become light reflections on the walls of the space.   Sonic Acts artist Joris Strijbos and Daan Johan (Macular) developed PARSEC, a kinetic audiovisual machine that consists of 16 identical arms. Each arm is equipped with light and sound producing devices that scatter abstract audiovisual patterns while rotating. The core of the installation comprises a swarm synthesizer: 16 identical analogue and modular synthesizers programmed to perform swarm-like behaviour. The installation, presented by Sonic Acts, plays with the sense of perception and is an intense, hypnotic experience.

Performance Volta at Age of Wonder festival



This coming weekend, March 28-30, the festival Age of Wonder takes place in the 100-year-old Natlab in Eindhoven. Part of their programme is the remake of Dick Raaijmakers’ performance Volta, which Sonic Acts co-produced.   Remake of Dick Raaijmakers’ performance Volta by Michiel Pijpe and the ArtScience Interfaculty, and in co-production with Sonic Acts. A giant battery is constructed, producing energy for exactly one light bulb. Raaijmakers (1930-2013) was a multimedia artist and one of the founding fathers of Dutch electronic music, investigating this field in Natlab in the fifties.   With a distinctive programme focussing on bold visions and big ideas, the festival Age of Wonder zooms out from our spot on the timeline and looks to the past and the future. In so doing, Age of Wonder takes the essence and the existence of the 100-year-old Natlab as a starting point.   More information about the performance Volta during Age of Wonder: www.ageofwonder.nl/volta-dick-raaijmakers

Stagiair productie gezocht!



Van september 2014 tot maart 2015 Kantoordagen: Paradiso Amsterdam, 3-4 dagen per week (in overleg)  Stagevergoeding: 250 euro bruto bij een fulltime aanstelling   Over Sonic Acts Sonic Acts organiseert een tweejaarlijks festival op het snijvlak van kunst, technologie, muziek en wetenschap. Het festival omvat een groot aantal optredens en performances, een omvangrijke internationale wetenschapsconferentie, een uitgebreid filmprogramma en een expositie en vindt plaats op verschillende plekken in Amsterdam zoals Paradiso, OT301, Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, de Balie en Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. De komende festivaleditie staat gepland voor februari 2015. Ook is Sonic Acts een platform voor onderzoek, ontwikkeling en productie op gebied van kunst, technologie, muziek en wetenschap en organiseert ze vanuit die rol lezingen, performances en workshops het hele jaar door.   Omschrijving stageplek Sonic Acts is een kleine organisatie, gehuisvest in Paradiso, waarbinnen een stagiair(e) als volwaardig lid van het team functioneert. Hou er rekening mee dat dit een werkstage is, waarbij het realiseren van de activiteiten in 2014 en het festival in 2015 voorop staan. Voor eigen onderzoeken of aparte opdrachten is er nauwelijks tot geen ruimte. Sonic Acts werkt samen met vooraanstaande personen (zoals kunstenaars, wetenschappers, journalisten, producenten) en vele muziekorganisaties en media (podia, opleidingen, muziek¬ en social media sites en muziekbladen). Deze contacten en samenwerkingsverbanden maken een stage bij de Sonic Acts waardevol en geven een goede kans om ervaring op te doen van inhoudelijke en productionele kennis en ervaring ook de sector van binnen en buiten te leren kennen.   Werkzaamheden stagiair(e) Samen met de hoofdproducent draagt de stagiair(e) zorg voor de logistiek-productionele voorbereiding en uitvoering van het Sonic Acts activiteitenprogramma in 2014 en het festival in 2015; • Artist handling • Boeking en coördinatie van reis en verblijf kunstenaars & sprekers • Plannen en boeken van het transport van filmprints, video’s en kunstwerken • Assisteren bij de productie van evenementen bij Paradiso en de partnerorganisaties • Verzamelen van technische en logistieke informatie over projecten en kunstenaars • Vrijwilligerscoördinatie (werven en aansturen van vrijwilligers) • Algemene administratieve en productionele ondersteuning van de afdeling productie • Notuleren bij overleggen   Functievereisten • Hbo of universitair werk- en denkniveau • Een proactieve houding, creatief denkvermogen, zelfstandig kunnen werken in teamverband • Affiniteit met Sonic Acts en muziek en kunst in het algemeen • Bereidheid om ook buiten kantoortijden te werken • Goede kennis van Office pakket (Word, Excel) • Uitstekende sociale- en communicatieve vaardigheden • Uitstekende beheersing van de Nederlandse en Engelse taal in woord en geschrift • Accuraat, snel en zorgvuldig • Stressbestendig, servicegericht en een flexibele werkinstelling • Woonplaats Amsterdam of omstreken • Organisatorische ervaring in de culturele sector is een pré   Ben jij wie we zoeken? Stuur dan je CV en motivatiebrief uiterlijk 1 juni 2014 naar Annette Wolfsberger via annette[at]paradiso.nl. Voor vragen over de vacature kun je ook bij haar terecht via 020-6264521. In overleg is een eerder of later begin van de stage mogelijk.   Check voor meer informatie: www.sonicacts.com  

Stagiair (online) communicatie en marketing gezocht!



Van september 2014 tot maart 2015 Kantoordagen: Paradiso Amsterdam, 3-4 dagen per week (in overleg) Stagevergoeding: 250 euro bruto bij een fulltime aanstelling   Over Sonic Acts Sonic Acts organiseert een tweejaarlijks festival op het snijvlak van kunst, technologie, muziek en wetenschap. Het festival omvat een groot aantal optredens en performances, een omvangrijke internationale wetenschapsconferentie, een uitgebreid filmprogramma en een expositie en vindt plaats op verschillende plekken in Amsterdam zoals Paradiso, OT301, Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, de Balie en Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. De komende festivaleditie staat gepland voor februari 2015. Ook is Sonic Acts een platform voor onderzoek, ontwikkeling en productie op gebied van kunst, technologie, muziek en wetenschap en organiseert ze vanuit die rol lezingen, performances en workshops het hele jaar door.   Omschrijving stageplek Sonic Acts is een kleine organisatie, gehuisvest in Paradiso, waarbinnen een stagiair(e) als volwaardig lid van het team functioneert. Hou er rekening mee dat dit een werkstage is, waarbij het realiseren van de activiteiten in 2014 en het festival in 2015 voorop staan. Voor eigen onderzoeken of aparte opdrachten is er nauwelijks tot geen ruimte. Sonic Acts werkt samen met vooraanstaande personen (zoals kunstenaars, wetenschappers, journalisten, producenten) en vele muziekorganisaties en media (podia, opleidingen, muziek¬ en social media sites en muziekbladen). Deze contacten en samenwerkingsverbanden maken een stage bij de Sonic Acts waardevol en geven een goede kans om ervaring op te doen van inhoudelijke en productionele kennis en ervaring ook de sector van binnen en buiten te leren kennen.   Werkzaamheden stagiair(e) Samen met de communicatiemanager draagt de stagiair(e) zorg voor het opzetten en uitvoeren van de online promotiecampagne van Sonic Acts; • Assisteren van de communicatiemanager van Sonic Acts • Marketingcampagnes uitwerken en uitvoeren aan de hand van het communicatie jaarplan • Content creatie (tekst en beeld) en contentbeheer voor de website • Onderhouden en optimaliseren relatiebeheer kunstopleidingen (NL/Europa) en uitbreiden database • Sociaal netwerk marketing – onderhouden online communities (Twitter, Facebook, etc) • Documenteren van Sonic Acts op Wikipedia (in het algemeen en vorige en komende festivaledities) • Content coördinatie voor websites partnerinstellingen • Nieuwsbrief en persberichten voorbereiden • Opzetten van eventuele online guerrillamarketingacties • Notuleren bij overleggen   Functievereisten • Achtergrond in communicatie, marketing, nieuwe media, digitale/online communicatie of journalistiek (hbo of universiteit) • Een proactieve houding, creatief denkvermogen, zelfstandig kunnen werken in teamverband • Bereidheid om ook buiten kantoortijden te werken • Ervaring met organisatie/publiciteit van culturele evenementen • Inhoudelijke affiniteit met Sonic Acts en muziek en kunst in het algemeen • Ervaring met online communities (Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Mixcloud, etc.) • Goede kennis van Office pakket (Word, Excel) en Wordpress (CMS) • Goede sociale en communicatieve vaardigheden • Uitstekende beheersing van de Nederlandse en Engelse taal in woord en geschrift • Stressbestendig • Woonplaats Amsterdam of omstreken • Ervaring met grafische programma’s als Adobe Illustrator en Photoshop is een pré.   Ben jij wie we zoeken? Stuur dan je CV en motivatiebrief uiterlijk 1 juni 2014 naar Annette Wolfsberger annette[at]paradiso.nl. Voor vragen over de vacature kun je ook bij haar terecht via 020-6264521. In overleg is een eerder of later begin van de stage mogelijk.   Check voor meer informatie: www.sonicacts.com

Vertical Cinema at Stedelijk was a great success!



Vertical Cinema at Stedelijk is over. The four days of sold out screenings in the Dan Flavin Hall of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and lectures by the renown speakers Erica Balsom, Bart Rutten, Noam Elcott and Philippe-Alain Michaud were a great experience, thanks to you, the visitors! Reminisce with us once more about the intense vertical film screenings in the impressing monumental hall of Stedelijk.   For more photos of the screening at Stedelijk Museum, see our Flickr set.

Vertical Cinema: Friday screening sold out, get your tickets now



The first Vertical Cinema screening was sold out, and in front of the packed stairs of Dan Flavin Hall the visitors could experience both the monumental hall of the Stedelijk Museum and the 'monolith' screen with the ten vertical works.   As today's screening is already sold out as well, get your tickets for Saturday and/or Sunday now via the Sonic Acts shop.  

Vertical Cinema: Expanded Lectures at Stedelijk



An additional programme of lectures by international speakers focuses on the history of vertical and other forms of expanded cinema and explores the future of audio-visual experiments. All lectures will be held in English, with the exception of the lecture by Bart Rutten on Sunday 23 February, which will be in Dutch. Tickets for the lectures and combi-tickets for lecture&screening are on sale at the webshop. Philippe-Alain Michaud Thursday 20 February, 20:00 hrs The tradition of experimental cinema, which persists today in the practices of many artists, shows that film cannot be defined from the restricted point of view of the history of cinema. It must be reconsidered from the enlarged viewpoint of the history of art as a resurrection of the stage and the values of presence.   Philippe-Alain Michaud is film curator at the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris.   Noam M. Elcott Friday 21 February, 16:00 hrs Material. Human. Divine. Notes on the Vertical Screen. In this wide-ranging talk Noam M. Elcott isolates three resonances in which to locate the vertical screen: as mere matter, as human form, and as divine presence.   Noam M. Elcott (Columbia University, NY) specialises in the history of modern art and media in Europe and North America, with an emphasis on photography and film.   Erica Balsom Saturday 22 February, 16:00 hrs Towards an Eccentric History of the Aspect Ratio Drawing on examples from the domains of film theory and moving image art, this talk will explore analogue rejections of the horizontal frame in the hope of excavating the prehistory of the variable aspect ratios that confront us today.   Erica Balsom is lecturer in Film Studies as well as in Liberal Arts at the Film Studies Department King’s College London, and the author of Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art (2013).   Bart Rutten - Sunday 23 February, 16:00 hrs (NB this lecture will be held in Dutch) Bart Rutten will share his remarks on the mainly abstract Vertical Cinema programme, based on both his personal experiences in curating film and video art, as well as the institutional context of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. With examples from Kazimir Malevich to Bill Viola, from Xerox Alto and Pacman to the iPad, and from Douglas Davis through Brian Eno to Jeroen Kooijmans, his talk will draw on the relationship between the museum and Vertical Cinema in reference to the site and the collection.   Bart Rutten has been fine arts conservator and collection curator at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam since 2008. His work as a curator covers the whole field of the visual arts, with special attention for film and video art, conceptual art and installation art.

Vertical Cinema: Synchronator workshop is sold out!



There are now no more tickets for the Synchronator Workshop, organised by STEIM and Sonic Acts, on Friday 21 February at STEIM.

Vertical Cinema: Synchronator Workshop at STEIM 21 Feb



The Synchronator device converts electronic audio signals into composite video signals. Designed by Bas van Koolwijk and Gert-Jan Prins in 2009, it has seen a steady growth in the number of users since then.   During this workshop, we will introduce you to the background, techniques and use of this device for live improvisation and recordings. Each participant is invited to work with the Synchronator devices and television monitors, ask questions, and engage in hands-on experiments. Your instructors: Gert-Jan Prins, Bas van Koolwijk & Tina Frank   Requirements: - Participants should have an affinity with direct interaction between image and sound. - Bring your own sound-producing devices to connect to the Synchronator!   Synchronator Workshop Friday 21 February 2014, 11:00–15:00 Admission: € 20,00 Buy your tickets here. There is a maximum of 12 participants for this workshop, so register now!   More information about the instructors of the Synchronator workshop: Gert-Jan Prins Gert-Jan Prins (NL) focuses on the sonic and musical qualities of electronic noise and investigates its relationship with the visual. His works includes live performances, sound-installations, compositions, electronic circuits, and collaborations with composers, musicians and visual artists. www.gjp.info   Bas van Koolwijk Media artist Bas van Koolwijk uses both sound and image, be it analogue or in numerical code, as interchangeable data. He produces visual and acoustic compositions in which both manifestations powerfully interact. His works can often be seen as an attack on the illusion of the medium itself. Van Koolwijk develops his own hardware and software applications. http://www.basvankoolwijk.com/   Tina Frank ina Frank (AT) is a graphic designer and media artist working as a professor of visual communication and the head of the Department for Graphic Design and Photography at The University for Art and Industrial Design in Linz. She started working with video and multimedia in the mid-1990s and has performed live at many music, film and multimedia festivals with musicians from the electronic music scene around the label Mego. Her video works, e.g., Chronomops (2006) and Vergence (2010), explore the boundaries of human visual perception and are shown regularly at exhibitions and festivals. tinafrank.net

Vertical Cinema at Stedelijk Amsterdam 20 to 23 February



At the end of this month, Vertical Cinema will move on to Stedelijk Amsterdam. Early bird tickets for a reduced price now on sale at the Sonic Acts shop.   During the four days, expanded lectures & workshops will accompany the impressive screenings of the ten Vertical Cinema-works. After two spectacular, sold-out screenings at the 2014 International Film Festival Rotterdam, where it was hailed as one of the highlights of the entire festival, Vertical Cinema comes to Amsterdam. The programme, comprising ten new 35mm films for a vertical Cinemascope screen, will be presented at the Stedelijk Museum over four consecutive nights.   With abstract imagery, adventurous formal experiments, found footage, live laser action captured on film, immersive soundscapes and new compositions, this event is a treat for the eyes and ears. Each day a renowned international expert will present a lecture that expands on the history of vertical cinema and other experiments with the moving image in film and modern art. Vertical Cinema is screened at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam from Thursday, 20 to Sunday, 23 February 2014. With works by Joost Rekveld, Tina Frank, Johan Lurf, Björn Kämmerer, Manuel Knapp, Esther Urlus, Billy Roisz / Dieter Kovačič, Rosa Menkman, Makino Takashi / Telcosystems, and Gert-Jan Prins / Martijn van Boven.   Screenings at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: programme schedule Thursday, 20 February 20:00: Lecture by Philippe-Alain Michaud 22:00: Vertical Cinema screening Philippe-Alain Michaud is film curator at the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris.   Friday, 21 February 16:00: Lecture by Noam Elcott 18:00: Vertical Cinema screening Noam M. Elcott (Columbia University, NY) specialises in the history of modern art and media in Europe and North America, with an emphasis on photography and film. He has published essays about James Welling, Man Ray, Moholy-Nagy, the London Film-Makers’ Co-op, and others, and is currently working on a book, provisionally entitled Artificial Darkness: An Art and Media History, 1876-1930.   Saturday, 22 February 16:00: Lecture by Erica Balsom 18:00: Vertical Cinema screening Erica Balsom lectures in Film Studies and Liberal Arts at the Film Studies Department, King’s College, London, and is the author of Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art (2013).   Sunday, 23 February 16:00: Lecture by Bart Rutten 18:00: Vertical Cinema screening Bart Rutten has been collection curator department of paintings and sculpture at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam since 2008. His work as a curator covers the whole field of the visual arts, with special attention for film and video art, conceptual art and installation art.   Buy tickets in advance now to benefit from a reduced entrance fee. Experience Vertical Cinema at home by ordering the Vertical Cinema publication at www.sonicacts.com/shop. It is also sold in the Stedelijk Museum’s bookshop.

Additional Vertical Cinema Screening at IFFR!



Great news! As the international premiere of Vertical Cinema sold out even before the general ticket sale of International Film Festival Rotterdam started, and there still was a big request for tickets, we managed to organize an additional screening on 24 January at 22:15 hrs at Arminius.

Please find information on the programme here.

Tickets are available here - better get them quick!

Check out our new site for additional information on Vertical Cinema.

Vertical Cinema screening 2 24 January 2014, at 22:15 hrs Arminius Rotterdam, Museumpark 3  

Sonic Acts presents Space Debris on 18 January 2014



New Year’s Reception & Book Launch The Dark Universe   On 18 January Sonic Acts and Gonzo (circus) would like to invite you to celebrate the start of the new year with us. Sonic Acts launches the book, epub and PDF-version of The Dark Universe with an afternoon about space debris.   The printed version of The Dark Universe has already been available for a while: 344 pages in full colour, lavishly illustrated, with essays and interviews about dark matter and unknown aspects of our universe. In January 2014 a less expensive PDF and epub-version will also be available for those who prefer reading texts on their favourite screens. We celebrate this triad with an afternoon at De Balie about space debris, featuring European Space Agency-researcher Bernard Foing, author and media theorist Omar Muñoz-Cremers, award-winning designer Femke Herregraven, and the DJs from Gonzo (circus).   Space debris, orbital junk, space junk… ten years ago almost nobody had heard of it, but it has become a serious problem for space exploration. The bulkier remnants of spent rocket stages and old satellites orbiting the Earth are accompanied by dust from solid rocket fuel and flakes of paint. Even a tiny paint flake can be hazardous because of the speed at which it travels in orbit. Scientists are working on solutions: Bernard Foing from the European Space Agency focuses on ESA’s research in this field and the latest developments in space exploration. SF author and theorist Omar Muñoz-Cremers reads a new story written especially for the occasion. Award-winning designer Femke Herregraven talks about her research into ‘dark data’. The DJs from Gonzo (circus) provide a soundtrack of adventurous music.   Space Debris Saturday 18 January 2014 at 16:00 De Balie (Salon), Amsterdam Admission is free, but reservation is recommended via reservations@sonicacts.com RSVP via the Facebook-event

End of Year Sale at the Sonic Acts shop



Christmas time is gift time. Until the end of the year lots of Sonic Acts items such as books, t-shirts and bags will be sold for special discount prices in the Sonic Acts webshop.   For example: Travelling Time publication [2012] €24.50 €17.50 Cahier 1 The Aelectrosonic  [2011] €7.00 €6.00 Cahier 2 A Ray of Darkness  [2012] €7.00 €6.00 Kontraste Cahier 1, 2 & 3 for the price of two €21.00 €14.00 The Dark Universe T-shirts €15.00 €7.50   ... and much more publications and merchandise with up to 50% discount!   Have a look! http://www.sonicacts.com/shop

Ticket sale started! - International premiere of Vertical Cinema at IFFR 2014



“Vertical Cinema is the only film screening I’ve ever attended where earplugs were handed out at the door.”

- Nick Cain, The Wire 2013

 International premiere of Vertical Cinema at IFFR 2014  The Vertical Cinema project, which premiered at Kontraste in October 2013, will have its international premiere on 24 January 2014 at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The programme is accompanied by a lecture by Professor Erkki Huhtamo, live performances and a workshop in cooperation with Piet Zwart Institute and Filmwerkplaats Rotterdam.   Vertical Cinema is a series of ten newly commissioned large-scale works by internationally renowned experimental filmmakers and audiovisual artists, which will be presented on 35 mm celluloid and projected vertically with a custom-built projector. The programme features works by Joost Rekveld, Tina Frank, Björn Kämmerer, Gert-Jan Prins & Martijn van Boven, Manuel Knapp, Johann Lurf, Rosa Menkman, Billy Roisz & Dieter Kovačič, Makino Takashi & Telcosystems and Esther Urlus. Judging from reactions to the premiere of Vertical Cinema at Kontraste Festival, this giant-screen experience is an absolute must-see during your visit to IFFR 2014!   Read more here: www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com Vertical Cinema at IFFR 24 January 2014, 19h45 Arminius, Museumpark 3 in Rotterdam Ticket sales have just started: Tickets

Looking back: Kontraste 2013



Dark As Light, the final edition of the Kontraste Festival took place from 11 to 13 October 2013 in Krems, Austria. Curated by Sonic Acts, the festival was almost sold out and a truly memorable experience. The world premiere of Vertical Cinema was impressive, to say the least: the Minoriten Church was packed with a focused and attentive audience enjoying the ten new vertical films.   Other highlights included the dark drone concerts by CC Hennix & the Chora(s)san Time Court Mirage, Thomas Ankersmit’s intense Serge synth performance, an entire evening of electronics and organ music during Spire in a local church, and the Sunday afternoon excursion to Franz Pomassl’s ten-story tall sound installation in the electricity plant in Theiss. More pictures can be seen here: Kontraste 2013

Sonic Acts zoekt stagiair[e] communicatie en marketing



Periode: januari t/m juni 2014 Kantoordagen: Paradiso Amsterdam, 3-4 dagen per week (in overleg) Stagevergoeding: 250 euro bruto bij een fulltime aanstelling   Over Sonic Acts Sonic Acts organiseert een tweejaarlijks internationaal festival op het snijvlak van kunst, technologie en wetenschap en zal vanaf 2014 voor het eerst ook door het jaar heen programma-activiteiten ontwikkelen. Het gaat hierbij om de productie en (internationale) distributie van werken alsook programma’s, zoals lezingen, performances en workshops, in heel Nederland.   Omschrijving stageplek Sonic Acts is een kleine organisatie, gehuisvest in Paradiso, waarbinnen een stagiair(e) als volwaardig lid van het team functioneert. Hou er rekening mee dat dit een werkstage is, waarbij het realiseren van de activiteiten in 2014 voorop staat. Voor eigen onderzoeken of aparte opdrachten is er nauwelijks tot geen ruimte. Sonic Acts werkt samen met vooraanstaande personen (zoals kunstenaars, wetenschappers, journalisten, producenten) en vele muziekorganisaties en media (podia, opleidingen, muziek en social media sites en muziekbladen). Deze contacten en samenwerkingsverbanden maken een stage bij Sonic Acts waardevol en geven een goede kans om, naast het opdoen van inhoudelijke en productionele kennis en ervaring,de sector van binnen en buiten te leren kennen.   Werkzaamheden stagiair(e) Samen met de communicatiemanager draagt de stagiair(e) (online) communicatie & marketing zorg voor het opzetten en uitvoeren van de online promotiecampagne van Sonic Acts; • Assisteren van de communicatiemanager van Sonic Acts • Marketingcampagnes uitwerken en uitvoeren aan de hand van het communicatie jaarplan • Content creatie (tekst en beeld) en contentbeheer voor de website • Onderhouden en optimaliseren relatiebeheer kunstopleidingen (NL/Europa) en uitbreiden database • Sociaal netwerk marketing – onderhouden online communities (Twitter, Facebook, etc) • Documenteren van Sonic Acts op Wikipedia (in het algemeen en vorige en komende festivaledities) • Content coördinatie voor websites partnerinstellingen • Nieuwsbrief en persberichten voorbereiden • Opzetten van eventuele online guerrillamarketing acties • Notuleren bij overleggen   Functievereisten • Achtergrond in communicatie, marketing, nieuwe media, digitale / online communicatie of journalistiek (hbo of universiteit) • Een proactieve houding, creatief denkvermogen, zelfstandig kunnen werken in een teamverband • Bereidheid om ook buiten kantoortijden te werken • Ervaring met organisatie/publiciteit van culturele evenementen en inhoudelijke affiniteit met Sonic Acts en muziek en kunst in het algemeen • Ervaring met online communities (Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Mixcloud, etc) • Goede kennis van Office pakket en Wordpress (CMS) • Goede sociale en communicatieve vaardigheden • Uitstekende beheersing van de Nederlandse en Engelse taal in woord en geschrift • Stressbestendig • Woonplaats Amsterdam of omstreken • Ervaring met grafische programma’s als Adobe Illustrator en Photoshop is een pré.   Ben jij wie we zoeken? Stuur dan je CV en motivatiebrief uiterlijk 11 december 2013 naar Annette Wolfsberger annette[AT]sonicacts[DOT]com. Voor vragen over de vacature kun je ook bij haar terecht via 020-6264521. In overleg is een eerder of later begin van de stage mogelijk. Check voor meer informatie de Sonic Acts en de Vertical Cinema website

Sonic Acts zoekt een stagiair[e] productie



Periode: januari t/m juni 2014 Kantoordagen: 3-4 dagen per week (in overleg) Stagevergoeding: 250 euro bruto bij een fulltime aanstelling   Over Sonic Acts Sonic Acts organiseert een tweejaarlijks internationaal festival op het snijvlak van kunst, technologie en wetenschap en zal vanaf 2014 voor het eerst ook door het jaar heen programma-activiteiten ontwikkelen. Het gaat hierbij om de productie en (internationale) distributie van werken alsook programma’s, zoals lezingen, performances en workshops, in heel Nederland.   Omschrijving stageplek Sonic Acts is een kleine organisatie, gehuisvest in Paradiso, waarbinnen een stagiair(e) als volwaardig lid van het team functioneert. Hou er rekening mee dat dit een werkstage is, waarbij het realiseren van de activiteiten in 2014 voorop staat. Voor eigen onderzoeken of aparte opdrachten is er nauwelijks tot geen ruimte. Sonic Acts werkt samen met vooraanstaande personen (zoals kunstenaars, wetenschappers, journalisten, producenten) en vele muziekorganisaties en media (podia, opleidingen, muziek en social media sites en muziekbladen). Deze contacten en samenwerkingsverbanden maken een stage bij Sonic Acts waardevol en geven een goede kans om naast het opdoen van inhoudelijke en productionele kennis en ervaring ook de sector van binnen en buiten te leren kennen.   Werkzaamheden stagiair(e) Samen met de hoofd producent draagt de stagiair(e) zorg voor de logistiek-productionele voorbereiding en uitvoering van het activiteitenprogramma; • Artist handling • Boeken en coördinatie van reis en verblijf van kunstenaars en sprekers • Plannen en boeken van het transport van filmprints, video’s en kunstwerken • Assisteren bij de productie van evenementen bij Paradiso en de partnerorganisaties • Verzamelen van technische en logistieke informatie over projecten en kunstenaars • Vrijwilligerscoördinatie (werving en aansturen van vrijwilligers) • Algemene administratieve ondersteuning van de afdeling productie • Notuleren bij overleggen   Functievereisten • Hbo of universitair werk- en denkniveau • Een proactieve houding, creatief denkvermogen, zelfstandig kunnen werken in een teamverband • Affiniteit met Sonic Acts en muziek en kunst in het algemeen • Uitstekende sociale en communicatieve vaardigheden • Zeer goede beheersing van de Nederlandse en Engelse taal in woord en geschrift • Bereidheid om ook buiten kantoortijden te werken • Goede kennis van Officepakket (Word, Excel) • Accuraat, snel en zorgvuldig • Stressbestendig, servicegericht en een flexibele werkinstelling • Woonplaats Amsterdam of omstreken • Organisatorische ervaring in de culturele sector is een pré.   Ben jij wie we zoeken? Stuur dan je CV en motivatiebrief uiterlijk 11 december 2013 naar Annette Wolfsberger annette[AT]sonicacts[DOT]com. Voor vragen over de vacature kun je ook bij haar terecht via 020-6264521. In overleg is een eerder of later begin van de stage mogelijk. Check voor meer informatie de Sonic Acts en Vertical Cinema website

Pre order now: Vertical Cinema Cahier



  Cahier #3 Vertical Cinema will be available from 11 October 2013 onwards. Pre order now, and we will ship it to you as soon as we receive it from the printer.   ‘You hear it everywhere: Cinema is tipping over – its epic and dramatic forms are spilling over into television, avant-garde and experimental films have fled to the galleries, and all the images that once belonged to it are now available everywhere, anytime. At the Austrian Film Museum, we tend to refrain from such sweeping and simple-minded swan songs. For this very reason, we are honoured to participate in Vertical Cinema – a project committed to taking one step at a time. Instead of trying to tip cinema in its entirety into the digital netherworld, this project is content with just tipping the screen – observing how an artform changes if you respectfully chafe at its edges.’ – Alexander Horwath, Director of the Austrian Film Museum   Vertical Cinema is a unique project featuring a series of ten commissioned vertical films made in 2013 by internationally renowned experimental filmmakers and audiovisual artists.   This monumental screening of their 35 mm vertical cinemascope films premieres at the 2013 edition of the Kontraste Dark As Light Festival, where Kontraste Cahier #3 will be presented as well. It includes texts about the works by the participants in the project: Joost Rekveld, Tina Frank, Björn Kämmerer, Gert-Jan Prins & Martijn van Boven, Manuel Knapp, Johann Lurf, Rosa Menkman, Billy Roisz & Dieter Kovačič, Makino Takashi & Telcosystems and Esther Urlus.   The cahier also features an extensive introduction to the rich history of expanded and exploded cinema, by professor, curator and author Timothy Druckrey (US), who guides us through the mutations of the burgeoning moving image, fuelled by the technological growth of the medium over the last 50 years.    Order here   € 7,-  

Vertical Cinema



  ‘You hear it everywhere: Cinema is tipping over – its epic and dramatic forms are spilling over into television, avant-garde and experimental films have fled to the galleries, and all the images that once belonged to it are now available everywhere, anytime. At the Austrian Film Museum, we tend to refrain from such sweeping and simple-minded swan songs. For this very reason, we are honoured to participate in Vertical Cinema – a project committed to taking one step at a time. Instead of trying to tip cinema in its entirety into the digital netherworld, this project is content with just tipping the screen – observing how an artform changes if you respectfully chafe at its edges.’   – Alexander Horwath, Director of the Austrian Film Museum   What we usually identify as the indisputable ‘temple of film’, the Cinema, is not really a given, especially not in the realm of experimental cinematic arts. Yet this is somehow sidelined in the process of re-thinking the possibilities of cinematic experience, mostly because the architectural frame is already there, if only as a convention established a long time ago within the theatrical arts. Actually, the history of experimental cinema and the art of the moving image suggests that the space might very well be the crucial aspect of the total audiovisual experience – something one should always question and take into consideration when producing a work for audiovisual, sensory cinema.   For the Vertical Cinema project we ‘abandoned’ traditional cinema formats, opting instead for cinematic experiments that are designed for projection in a tall, narrow space. It is not an invitation to leave cinemas – which have been radically transformed over the past decade according to the diktat of the commercial film market – but a provocation to expand the image onto a new axis. This project re-thinks the actual projection space and returns it to the filmmakers. It proposes a future for filmmaking rather than a pessimistic debate over the alleged death of film.   Vertical Cinema is a series of ten newly commissioned large-scale, site-specific works by internationally renowned experimental filmmakers and audiovisual artists, which will be presented on 35 mm celluloid and projected vertically with a custom-built projector in vertical cinemascope.   It is a 90-minute programme made solely for projection on a monumental vertical screen that will be upended on Saturday, 12 October, at 9 pm, in Klangraum Krems Minoritenkirche at the Kontraste Dark As Light Festival.   Vertical Cinema features works by Joost Rekveld, Tina Frank, Björn Kämmerer, Gert-Jan Prins & Martijn van Boven, Manuel Knapp, Johann Lurf, Rosa Menkman, Billy Roisz & Dieter Kovačič, Makino Takashi & Telcosystems and Esther Urlus.   These ten experimental films screened live on a vertical monument, a monolith, are a unique blend of abstract cinema, structural experiments, found footage remixes, chemical film explorations and live laser action. The artists – from Austria, the Netherlands and Japan – offer their view of ‘vertical axis art’, and the results of this challenging commission are fascinating.   #43 In his film #43, Joost Rekveld observes what happens to a system that is destabilised by ‘creative’ pixels, drawing inspiration from the set of ideas in biology and mathematics that arose during the development of cybernetics in the 1950s.   Colterrain Colterrain by Tina Frank plays with the Synchronator device, which translates sound into RGB video frequencies to create a work of true visual music in which the image is literally the sound turned into colour and filmed live using analogue equipment.   Pyramid Flare Johann Lurf embarks on a structural research of a modern pyramid building in his Pyramid Flare, a 5-minute work filmed in Prague with a 35 mm camera turned on its side.   Louver The ‘film as time made manifest’ is the centrepiece of Björn Kämmerer’s Louver, a film that acts as a huge shutter, a louver, playing with light-objects and setting them in motion.   V~ The kinetic graphisms of Manuel Knapp’s V~ open a portal into the process of creation from forces of numerical matter.   Chrome Esther Urlus’ Chrome – hand-made on the film material itself – opens a view into the autochrome process, a colouring technique for black-and-white photographs invented by the Lumière brothers in 1903.   Bring Me The Head Of Henri Chrétien! In their film Bring Me The Head Of Henri Chrétien! Billy Roisz and Dieter Kovačič explore the world of cinematic formats based on the genre that experimented with and exploited the width of the screen to display spectacular landscapes: Western movies.   Lunar Storm The landscape of the Moon and its seas is the scape of Lunar Storm by Rosa Menkman, who is well known for her glitch aesthetics.   Deorbit Deorbit, the first collaboration between Makino Takashi and Telcosystems, takes viewers on a voyage from the immeasurable depths of space, visible only as pixels, to micro-space, the celluloid grain itself.   Walzkörpersperre Walzkörpersperre by Gert-Jan Prins and Martijn van Boven explores verticality as resistance, bombarding a World War 2 anti-tank wall with a barrage of light beams driven by electronic sound.   Vertical Cinema is a Sonic Acts production in association with Kontraste Festival, The Austrian Film Museum, Filmtechniek BV, Paradiso Amsterdam, European Space Agency, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and International Film Festival Rotterdam. Generously supported by Mondriaan Fund.    Order the Vertical Cinema Cahier here    

Kontraste Festival 2013 – Dark As Light - 10 - 13 October 2013



Kontraste Festival 2013 – Dark As Light   As you probably know we – the Sonic Acts team – also programme the yearly Kontraste Festival. We would like to invite you for the tenth edition of the Kontraste Festival, which will takes place from 10 to 13 October 2013 in and around Krems with a compelling programme of cutting-edge films, concerts, installations, an extended lecture, and a publication.   With Dark as Light, Kontraste aspires to the heavens and directs our gaze upwards, from dark to light, in full contrast. The vertical architecture of the Minoritenkirche, the main Kontraste venue, draws our attention to what is above, making it the perfect venue for the world première of Vertical Cinema.   In a very different way, and rooted firmly in a centuries-old tradition, the Spire project also hints at this celestial-cerebral connection. It combines the emperor of all instruments, the church organ, with electronic music. The organ is the pre-eminent instrument for praising higher powers, its long pipes directing our gaze aloft. Prior to electrical amplification it was also the loudest and most powerful instrument, and in its technical complexity the organ was a forerunner to synthesiser and electronic music.  With old and brand new composed and improvised pieces, Spire renews this age-old organ tradition in the Church of St. Stephan in Mautern. Spire features performances by Christian Fennesz, Burkhard Stangl, Marcus Davidson, Mike Harding, Philip Jeck and Charles Matthews. More information on the full line-up can be found here: www.spire.org.uk   Morton Subotnick and Thomas Ankersmit place the analogue synthesiser in the spotlight. The pioneering synthesiser composer Subotnick takes us on a journey From Silver Apples of the Moon to a Sky of Cloudless Sulphur. Ankersmit’s sound explorations are set against the almost imperceptibly oscillating drones of Phill Niblock, which ascend unto ‘huge clouds of sound’. Catherine Christer Hennix & The Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage create a truly transcendental listening experience. The subtle microtonal drone, meticulously tuned to the performance space, opens a portal to a different space and time, rising out towards the stars. The Dutch journalist Peter Bruijn wrote about her performance at Sonic Acts 2012: ‘I’ll say it again: CC Hennix and Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage […] at Sonic Acts was so far the most impressive concert of 2012.’   The installation Volume by Franz Pomassl (Kraftwerk Theiß) works with the resonance and harmonics of a specific space. OFF – 3Hz by Finnbogi Petursson (Klangraum Krems Minoritenkirche) refers to the state of mind when the body and brain awake from non-REM sleep to a new day.   More information can be found on the Kontraste website: www.kontraste.at/2013   Save the date, plan your trip, and buy a ticket! 10 - 13 October 2013 Krems, Austria

The Dark Universe publication - Now Available!



  The Dark Universe publication The lavishly illustrated publication The Dark Universe is an accompaniment to and an extension of the fifteenth edition of Sonic Acts. The book includes essays by Andrew Pickering, Michael Doser, Roger Malina, Keller Easterling and Simon Ings, and extensive interviews with Saskia Sassen, Lebbeus Woods and artists such as CM von Hausswolff, HC Gilje, Matthijs Munnik and Gert-Jan Prins. The contributions discuss The Dark Universe theme from various perspectives – from physics and astronomy via the arts and literature to the current state of our planet. Interspersed through the book are not only many illustrations, but also several visual essays by Mirna Belina, and Bitcaves.   The Dark Universe is edited by Arie Altena & Sonic Acts, published by Sonic Acts Press, and designed by Bitcaves.  334 pp., English text, illustrated.   View example pages in pdf format here    Order here   € 17,50

Video impressions



Sonic Acts XV - The Dark Universe Day 1 Sonic Acts XV - The Dark Universe Day 1 from Sonic Acts on Vimeo.     Sonic Acts XV - The Dark Universe Day 2 Sonic Acts XV - The Dark Universe Day 2 from Sonic Acts on Vimeo.     Sonic Acts XV - The Dark Universe Day 3 Sonic Acts XV - The Dark Universe Day 3 from Sonic Acts on Vimeo.     Sonic Acts XV - The Dark Universe Day 4 SAXV Day04 from Sonic Acts on Vimeo.     Opening Sonic Acts exhibition The Dark Universe Opening Sonic Acts exhibition The Dark Universe from Sonic Acts on Vimeo.

Bow, then silence



The process behind perception has been a key subject of ceaseless attention and study. In many ways, the concept can be understood as a boundary object [1] that mediates between our epistemological frameworks and their futile belief to define the world in terms of "reality", and even more useless, "a common reality". Concisely, Glasersfeld (1995) highlighted in his Radical Constructivism theory, that “whenever we interpret what others say, or the way they act, we interpret what we hear or see in terms of elements that are part of our own experience. We cannot have another’s experience“. It is clear that in order to achieve this, we always need the social vehicle that enhances the negotiation of meanings with others within the communication process; however this constant endeavor of knowledge construction requires reflective and customized actions to successfully analyze events and phenomena. It is indeed an individual process not independent from the social construct as Wenger (1998) explains: “even drastic isolation -as in solitary confinement, monastic seclusion, or writing- is given meaning through social participation“. There is however a explicit challenge in relation to our current information stream and its rapid development as Harper (2010) extensively explains “there is a perception that we are now suffering from an age of communications excess“, something that could be detrimental to our “semiotic digestion“ framework which is critical when dealing with the communication object in its different shades of relevance. Biosphere, Lustmord & MFO: ‘Trinity’ Right in the opening lecture of Sonic Acts, a sparkling number of examples disclosed contextual conditions behind Physics and pioneering projects that impacted contemporary society during the last hundred years. Anil Ananthaswamy started his talk explaining how Edwin Hubble and George Hale came to the idea of building the Mount Wilson Observatory in such a place. Adams (1947) remembered that “in the establishment of the Observatory he (Hale) found the complete fulfillment of his ideal of an institution devoted purely to research, free from many of the restrictions imposed by university affiliations [...] Its quite and peace, the sense of remoteness and isolation, the changing views, and the brilliant skies by day and night were a constant joy". An uncanny moment of contemplation, a place capable of nesting those lucid thoughts blossoming exclusively in communion with the silent universe. Such stories nevertheless have historical roots in different cultures and knowledge communities as Fullerton (2010) remembered, "Christ's 40 days in the wilderness, the Buddha's meditations underneath the Bodhi tree, or Mohammed's regular journeys to the cave on Jabal Nur—all of which the protagonists undertook alone. [...] And we can find more stories just like de Montaigne's: Jack Kerouac's six months on a California fire platform, Georgia O'Keefe's ranch in the New Mexico desert, or the reclusiveness of many authors such as Thomas Pynchon or the late J.D. Salinger. The ability to access creativity has perhaps been disrupted by the ever increasing connectedness of our world". One of the features that repeatedly amazed me as Sonic Acts unveiled a never-ending set of ethereal questions, was the confrontation established between events and public. Staring faces getting lost into a sea of interpretations, a constant negotiation that pursued the completion of objects and performances. As Duchamp, Beuys, Hundertwasser and many others announced during the 20th century, the active role of the spectator is fundamental for the semiotic wholeness, shaped in ambiguity to cast away the reductive and figurative slavery. To perceive in this context, means to vanish time away and explore our mental spaces. Sonic Acts materializes this possibility to embrace introspection, a process that takes place only if we accept the open invitation that beats in the interactive nature of the substrate and the senses. It is worth trying to follow these roadways that lead us into reflective meadows. Surrounded by relentless sonic textures, mutating colors and movements, we were able to discover fossils in the air, right in the middle of apparent emptiness of the mystical and dark, all that is unintelligible to the common reality. The richness we have gathered in this ephemeral society is possible just under open conditions behind the abstraction of forms, the act of faith that keeps us away from “La société du spectacle“ portrayed by Debord in 1967 but instead encourage us to believe back in "this idea of a solitude we find in moments of disconnection and looking away" in order to "focus and find the way in which we engage with the world around us", as expressed by Fullerton. We were a crowd in the same place, but when closing our eyes and letting ourselves go, we got to find a precious land in our inner processes, there where each of us as individuals re-encountered with societies of memories. Audience [1] Concept introduced by Leigh Star and Griesemer in 1989. ------------- Adams, Walter S. (1947, October). Early Days at Mount Wilson, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 59(350), 213. Retrieved March 10, 2013, from http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//full/1947PASP...59..213A/0000221.000.html Fullerton, Ben. (2010, November). Designing for solitude. Interactions 17(6), 6. Retrieved March 10, 2013, from ACM Digital Library. Glasersfeld, Ernst von.  (1995).  Radical constructivism : a way of knowing and learning.  London ; Washington, D.C. :  Falmer Press Harper, Richard H. R. (2010). Texture: Human Expression in the Age of Communications Overload. New York, USA. : The MIT Press. Wenger, Etienne. (1998). Communities of practice. Learning, meaning, and identity. New York, USA. : Cambridge University Press.

Bitcaves and The Dark Alphabet



The visual identity of The Dark Universe could very well be a festival event; it’s equally mysterious, layered and well researched as any of the lectures or performance at the Sonic Acts festival. I was curious about the mysterious images and symbols and questioned one of the designers of research and design collaboration Bitcaves, Femke Herregraven. What secret messages did she hide in the posters, folders, tote bags and banners?
Banner on Paradiso - design by Bitcaves
Every festival gets the visual identity it deserves. Sometimes a festival, like a filmfestival, simply needs a recognizable, but somewhat neutral logo that can work for a festive opening party as well as a modest retrospective. A logo that can be used for a variety of genres and topics, that’s never unbefitting. Some festivals – mostly design festivals – do the opposite. They invite a designer and give him or her absolute freedom. The results are often stunning, but have very little – if anything – to do with the festival they were created for.
At Sonic Acts it’s not the designer or the organization that claims the spotlight. Everything is centered around the festival theme, carefully chosen and researched by the curatorial staff in the course of the two years (or one year in this case) leading up to the festival. Therefore, each festival edition looks different. Femke Herregraven has designed for The Cinematic Experience (2008), The Poetics of Space (2010), Travelling Time (2012) and this year for The Dark Universe in collaboration with Nina Støttrup Larsen as Bitcaves
Bitcaves describes itself as a collaboration for design and research. They start out with questions and investigations. But these efforts always lead to a design as Herregraven explanes: “We try to find different ways of opening up bulky reports with huge amounts of data. We visualize complex matter, thus making the research comprehensible.” Bitcaves latest projects deal with the concept avoidance. For instance, they researched military design tactics. How does the army conceal it’s presence in an urban environment and how does urban architecture facilitate this?
Another interesting project is Taxodus, a game that reveals the strategies of tax evasion used by corporations such as Google and Apple though taxhaves like the Netherlands. With this game Bitcaves offers us insight into these dark and hidden parts of the financial world. This ties in perfectly with this year’s theme for Sonic Acts: The Dark Universe. While Taxodus the game won’t be part of the festival (the game is in development), Bitcaves’ research is used in the Dark Finance panel discussion. With such strong intellectual connections between Bitcaves and Sonic Acts, it’s no surprise that the visual identity for The Dark Universe is just as dark, multi-dimensional and thoroughly investigated as the festival itself.
Prior to meeting Herregraven I laid out all the festival prints that I could get my hands on: a brochure; the booklet for the exposition; a poster; some flyers and the tote bag. Every item is different, there are multiple photographs, many different symbols in a variety of constellations, Greek symbols, numbers and more. I got the feeling that the compositions weren’t random, but their meaning or message remained hidden. And I also couldn't quite figure out what was (missing) on the photographs.
Herregraven was kind enough to reveal some of The Dark Universe secrets: “We chose a series of photographs made during launches of spy satellites. Almost nothing is know about these spy satellites: who are they spying and what are their coöridinates? This of course, is intentional, these missions are secret and a lot of effort is made to keep them invisible. The paradox is that the launch of a satellite is extremely visible. The launch creates huge amounts of noise and dust. But that’s pretty much the only temporal evidence that proves the existence of these spy satellites. We edited the actual rockets out of the picture so that only the monuments of smoke remain.”
tote bag – design by Bitcaves
The swarms of symbols and numbers seemed to me to refer to electronic cirquits or mathematics and astronomy. Herregraven discloses that the symbols are an actual alphabet: “The symbols represent the spy satellites and a letter. We started with a straight line and each letter rotates slightly from that, this line also indicates the position of the satellite in relation to the earth. Together, these satellites form different constellations. If you follow the numbers and connect them, like you do in a connect-the-dots drawing, you can uncover these constellations. I like those drawings because they perfectly illustrate the tension between visibility and invisibility. You can not quite see what it is, but you know there’s something to be revealed. Furthermore, they imply action and involvement, they make you curious.” So every festival design carries a secret message and image encoded in the Dark Alphabet. But our curiosity will be tested until the publication of the festival book where Bitcaves shall reveal the key to the Dark Alphabet.
festival leaflet – design by Bitcaves
In some designs, for instance on the rear of the festival brochure, we can detect a different set of symbols, larger than the satellite symbols and unrelated to the numbered constellations. These symbols represent constellations of stars, some known, some unknown. They remind us of the incredibly vast amounts of outer space, stars and dark matter that we know nothing of. This unimaginable universe is one of the key themes of The Dark Universe.
But the emergence of the star symbols between the spy statelites also emphasizes that these satellites are not at all interested in the unknown parts of the universe. In fact, they are aimed at the one planet we know relatively much about, earth. Consequently, the visual identity of the festival refers mainly to the dark universes of governments, control mechanisms and espionage. This is underlined quite literally by the lines that cross out the titles in the festival designs. Herregraven explains: “We researched secret documents and found that classified letters are sometimes declassified. In these documents the titles or numbers are crossed out with a diagonal line. The status of the information in these documents is very dubious: are they secret or not, who decides it they are or aren’t?” By crossing out the name of the festival, participants and themes, Bitcaves calls into question the festival itself and reminds us to be critical.
Sonic Acts 2008, 2010, 2012 – design by Femke Herregraven
The Dark Universe is a theme that fit Bitcaves like a glove. But I assume that it's probably not easy to design an identity for a festival with abstract themes such as Poetics of Space or Travelling Time. Herregraven concurs: “Time is such a difficult concept; it’s everything and nothing. You can’t isolate it and visualize it, it’s always in relation to something else. To illustrate this problem I chose a picture for every page in the book that represented time, for instance, time machines, erosion or instruments to measure time.”
The background for the Travelling Time visual identity was a silver plate with fine circular grooves in it like a music record. Herregraven based this image on the Voyager Golden Record. This metal disk was attached to the Voyager in 1977 en send into space with messages for hypothetical alien life forms. It contained recordings of sound and images with an engraving that showed how the recordings should be played and at what speed. Herregraven: “They chose the most durable material and technique available at the time, because the Voyager will travel on for thousands of years. And this tied in with some of the themes of the festival; the sustainably of information and envisioning the future.”
The two oval shapes in the Travelling Time design were inspired by the cartouches in which the names of Pharaohs were written in, explains Herregraven. These cartouches were an important clue in deciphering the hieroglyphs. You could say they opened the door to knowledge about the past. So when Herregraven joined these two symbolic images she connected past and future without being obvious or relying on worn out visual clichés. But that also means that Herregraves designs need some time and some explanation to be fully appreciated. So look forward to the 16 pages that Bitcaves has in the The Dark Universe book. They might reveal (or possibly create) more layers and mysteries surrounding The Dark Apphabet and other elements of the festival design.
For those who speak Dutch: Tegenlicht (VPRO) is working on a documentary about Taxodus, Bitcaves is involved in the research design of the documentary. Planned to air March 25.

Takashi Makino's [2012]3D



People watching 2012 with 3D glasses on   After a day of talks from eminent scientists about the vast impersonal and hidden forces shaping our universe, it is strangely reassuring to have the minute intricacies of human perception put centre stage by Japanese experimental film-maker and musician Takashi Makino.   His film ‘2012’ - simply titled to reflect the fact that all images in it were generated during that year - has been reworked into 3D for Sonic Acts, with cardboard glasses distributed to an intrigued audience. He stands dwarfed by the huge screen at the Paradiso as he prepares to perform its soundtrack live.   A slow static roar consumes the hall as the screen fills with a blue grainy wash of dots and squiggles which crackles in white and grey and green. At first the 3D effect is subtle. Then patterns, or different planes of moving textures, are established. They appear like two translucent screens moving across each other in opposite directions.   The boiling plasma shifts and becomes what could be pouring rain. This coalesces into a powerful downpour that pummels into and splashes up and out of the screen, its sound a coarse pouring rush.   The most astounding sight is when the perspective suddenly shifts and drops. From a close-up earthly world of droplets and swaying bushes, suddenly the sense is one of cosmic scale.   A clear and golden pulsing drone cuts through the white noise, shifting and shimmering as a huge cube composed of intricate lattices is revealed. Our perspective of it pulls back and swings around, producing a dizzying rotation and sense of depth.   When these familiar forms suddenly emerge from constantly moving chaotic static, there is a sense of revelation, of being shown the hidden workings of the universe. They seem imbued with a timeless authority, like Platonic forms existing on a level beyond the constant flux of sensation perceived at every moment of consciousness.   There is also a doubt: are these forms real? Does this order exist, or am I making it up? Bombarded by the constantly shifting squalls of visual and audio data, it’s hard to say what is really there, or intended to be there, and what is the internal by-product of a human brain trying to see patterns where there are none.   This central ambiguity is a theme in Makino’s abstract films. In interviews the artist resists giving any easy answers about his work, preferring instead for the viewer to form their own meanings from the “collage” he has created.   By playing with images of the world around us, filtering and remaking them, breaking and eroding them into noise then reassembling them into moments of recognition and clarity, Makino is putting a spotlight on human perception itself.   But the a feeling of awe evoked by the emergence and dissolution of forms on the screen is undiminished by any lingering scepticism regarding their existential validity.   The experience of momentary recognition is akin to those moments of pure awareness occasionally experienced in the sway of day to day consciousness. Timeless moments, like glimpsing the sun shining through swaying trees, looking up to see the moon hanging low over a cityscape, or experiencing an instant of deep connection with another that cuts through boundaries of habit and persona and reaches the very core of being.   For a moment this extra-ordinary state remains, and then, inevitably, it falls away, merging back into the disparate thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions that make up our picture of the world, much like the surging dots and squiggles which once again fill the screen at the end of the 30 minute long film.   That question again: to what extent did what I just experienced only exist within my mind? How much of it was real?   The experience itself was real. Out of the dark universe, something became known. Perhaps that’s good enough.

Takashi Makino's [2012]3D



People watching 2012 with 3D glasses on   After a day of talks from eminent scientists about the vast impersonal and hidden forces shaping our universe, it is strangely reassuring to have the minute intricacies of human perception put centre stage by Japanese experimental film-maker and musician Takashi Makino.   His film ‘2012’ - simply titled to reflect the fact that all images in it were generated during that year - has been reworked into 3D for Sonic Acts, with cardboard glasses distributed to an intrigued audience. He stands dwarfed by the huge screen at the Paradiso as he prepares to perform its soundtrack live.   A slow static roar consumes the hall as the screen fills with a blue grainy wash of dots and squiggles which crackles in white and grey and green. At first the 3D effect is subtle. Then patterns, or different planes of moving textures, are established. They appear like two translucent screens moving across each other in opposite directions.   The boiling plasma shifts and becomes what could be pouring rain. This coalesces into a powerful downpour that pummels into and splashes up and out of the screen, its sound a coarse pouring rush.   The most astounding sight is when the perspective suddenly shifts and drops. From a close-up earthly world of droplets and swaying bushes, suddenly the sense is one of cosmic scale.   A clear and golden pulsing drone cuts through the white noise, shifting and shimmering as a huge cube composed of intricate lattices is revealed. Our perspective of it pulls back and swings around, producing a dizzying rotation and sense of depth.   When these familiar forms suddenly emerge from constantly moving chaotic static, there is a sense of revelation, of being shown the hidden workings of the universe. They seem imbued with a timeless authority, like Platonic forms existing on a level beyond the constant flux of sensation perceived at every moment of consciousness.   There is also a doubt: are these forms real? Does this order exist, or am I making it up? Bombarded by the constantly shifting squalls of visual and audio data, it’s hard to say what is really there, or intended to be there, and what is the internal by-product of a human brain trying to see patterns where there are none.   This central ambiguity is a theme in Makino’s abstract films. In interviews the artist resists giving any easy answers about his work, preferring instead for the viewer to form their own meanings from the “collage” he has created.   By playing with images of the world around us, filtering and remaking them, breaking and eroding them into noise then reassembling them into moments of recognition and clarity, Makino is putting a spotlight on human perception itself.   But the a feeling of awe evoked by the emergence and dissolution of forms on the screen is undiminished by any lingering scepticism regarding their existential validity.   The experience of momentary recognition is akin to those moments of pure awareness occasionally experienced in the sway of day to day consciousness. Timeless moments, like glimpsing the sun shining through swaying trees, looking up to see the moon hanging low over a cityscape, or experiencing an instant of deep connection with another that cuts through boundaries of habit and persona and reaches the very core of being.   For a moment this extra-ordinary state remains, and then, inevitably, it falls away, merging back into the disparate thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions that make up our picture of the world, much like the surging dots and squiggles which once again fill the screen at the end of the 30 minute long film.   That question again: to what extent did what I just experienced only exist within my mind? How much of it was real?   The experience itself was real. Out of the dark universe, something became known. Perhaps that’s good enough.

A chicken, black holes, the second law of thermodynamics and kittens



The danger of a boundary-breaking, mind boggling, interdisciplinary festival such as Sonic Acts is that you might at some point reach your personal event horizon. The point where you lose grip and dissappear into the darkness. This could be a physical event horizon, like when Clausthome pierces your eardrums, or when Matthijs Munninks Citadels triggers an epileptic seizure. Even more painful is realizing that you've reached your intellectual horizon.
That's what happened to me on the Dark Universe conference friday. I was fine thoughout Gerard 't Hoofts plans for the colonisation of Mars, perfectly understood Pascale Ehrenfreunds lecture on space explorations and the search for the orgins of our solar system. And David Munns made a lot of sense when he talked about the paradigmatic shifts in the history of astronomy.
Also the next speakers Raviv Ganchrow and Honor Harger I could understand without much trouble. Ganchrow showed us his 'listening sites', his recordings and research at diverse sites such as a tunnel, a large radio telescope and the BBC foley studio. Harger talked about dark arts, how artists have sonified and visualized extra terrestrial signals like solar wind. Michael Dosers lecture was quite complicated but I could manage to get the points he was making about the different ways we can look for dark matter and dark energy. Because our eyes can only see a very small range of light waves, we need other means and instruments of looking at the universe.
But then Raphael Bousso started his talk about the world as a hologram. He proposed that black holes are an interesting theoretical tool for testing the laws of nature. But somewhere in his talking about black holes, chickens, fridges, entropy and the second law of thermodaymanics (the one law you really dont want to break according to Bousso) I lost track. Not that he is not a good speaker, quite the opposite, Bousso is very entertaining. He used funny analogies to explain that something called entropy cannot decrease. If you put a chicken in the fridge, the heat of the chicken is moved elsewhere. So when you toss said chicken into a black hole, its entropy would have to go somewhere. But quickly after this, the controversies, laws, theories and their interactions became unintelligible to me. Bousso did obviously realise that he was taking us far into the theoretical unknown and he concurred that "things where worse than just weird". He even used cute cat pictures in an ultimate ironical effort to engage the audience.
But it was already too late for me. I had passed my intellectual event horizon and could not crawl back out of the black hole if my life depended on it. I remembered the previous speaker, Michael Doser, mentioning that it would be great if we could see long distance radio waves, except our eyes would have to be about 10 meters big. For Bousso's lecture my brain would probably need to expand to similar dimensions.

Sonic Acts - tentoonstelling



Het Sonic Acts festival opende dit jaar vroeg, op 12 januari, met de tentoonstelling die tot en met de laatste dag van het festival (24 februari) te zien is. Voorheen werd de tentoonstelling altijd gehouden bij het Nederlands Instituut voor Mediakunst aan de Keizersgracht. Het NIMk werd wegbezuinigd, maar maakte een nieuwe start in samenwerking met SMART Project Space gehuisvest in het oude pathologisch anatomisch laboratorium van het Gasthuis in de Arie Biemondstraat. De samenwerking kreeg de naam New Art Space Amsterdam (NASA). Het doel van NASA is de actieve dialoog aangaan met hedendaagse kunstenaars die grens- en discipline overschrijdend werken. Dit doen ze door bijvoorbeeld artist-in-residence programma's, tentoonstellingen en andere events. De veelzijdige functies in het SMART Project Space gebouw (met oa. een filmzaal, theaterzaal, boekwinkel en restaurant) en ruime openingstijden maakt het een logische samenwerking die tevens hoop geeft op een toenemend aantal bezoekers. Maar zo'n gebouw met meerdere exploitanten heeft ook zijn nadelen. Bij het NIMk in de voormalige (dans)school kon het geluid hard en het feesten tot laat. De buren waren natuurlijk niet altijd blij, maar de sfeer was altijd gezellig rommelig. NASA en Sonic Acts konden zaterdagmiddag niet garanderen dat de geplande performances bij de opening niet uit de hand zouden lopen. Daarom verhuisden Raime, Peter Swanson, Cut Hands en Lee Gamble naar OT301. Dat doet natuurlijk niets af aan de kwaliteit van de tentoonstelling en programmering, maar echt gezellig werd het daarom niet in het steenkoude laboratorium. Matthijs Munnik Citadels: Lightscape V. Foto door Rosa Menkman De tentoonstelling nam ons mee naar The Dark Universe. Een beetje ontdekkingsreiziger heeft een passend kostuum, in dit geval kregen we charmante blauwe hoesjes voor over de schoenen. Want Bij grensoverschrijdende kunst kan de hele ruimte onderdeel uitmaken van het werk, ook de vloer dus, en die moet in een aantal ruimtes beschermd worden tegen zwarte vegen. En zo schuifelen we op onze slofjes door de ruimtes en gangen van het gebouw. Het blijkt al snel dat de tentoonstellingsruimtes heel wat afwisselender zijn dan de overzichtelijke grote kamers van het NIMk. De ruimte waar Black Rain (2009) van Semiconductor is opgesteld bijvoorbeeld -eigenlijk een hoge tussenruimte met twee niveau's- levert een prachtige omgeving op voor het werk.  Beetje oneerbiedig (en vies) was het wel dat dit tijdens de opening tevens de rookruimte was. Semiconductor Black Rain. Foto door Rosa Menkman Naar welke donkere - als in onbekende - universums kan je afreizen in de tentoonstelling? Een aantal werken hebben het heelal als thema. Semiconductor neemt je met Black Rain mee naar voorbij de Melkweg, langs exploderende sterren en zonnewind. Félicie d'Estienne d'Orves herschept een Supernova (Cassiopeia A, 2012) op menselijke schaal. Matthew Biederman schiep met Event Horizon (2012) een metafoor in beeld en geluid voor het gelijknamige verschijnsel uit de relativiteitstheorie. Een lastig te interpreteren werk dat mét of zonder een tweede projectie op doorzichtig zwart gaasdoek te zien is. Zonder het gaas spatten de kleuren van het scherm, mét het gaasdoek ervoor rijst de vraag welk perspectief je precies moet kiezen: hoort de projectie op het gaasdoek één op één te vallen met de projectie op het andere doek? Moeten de perspectivische lijnen op het gaas kloppen met de hoeken op het doek? Net als elk punt een eigen horizon heeft, biedt deze opstelling voor elk perspectief een andere waarneming. Matthew Biederman Event Horizon. Foto door Rosa Menkman Ivanka Frank en Matthijs Munnink richten zich op een andere grens van onze visuele waarneming, namelijk die tussen ogen en hersenen. Beide kunstenaars stellen de ogen bloot aan extreme prikkels. Bij Franke's Seeing with Eyes Closed (2011) is dat een grid van snel knipperende led-lampjes waar je met je ogen dicht voor moet gaan zitten. Bij Munninks Citadels: Lightscape V (2012) is het een scherm dat heel snel flikkerend gekleurd licht uitstraalt dat reflecteert op de witte muren, het plafond en vloer. (Hier moet je je ogen open houden, maar met de ogen dicht is de ervaring ook heel interessant.) De hersenen raken door de sensorische overdaad in de war. Het gevolg is dat iedereen de signalen anders 'ziet'. De één ziet specifieke vormen in kleur, de ander patronen in zwart en wit en een derde ziet weer iets heel anders. Ook voor mensen zonder epilepsie roepen deze twee werken een ervaring op die dicht tegen het onplezierige zit. De doorzetter wordt beloond met een fantastische, psychedelische trip. Revolver (2013) van HC Gilje, het eerste werk in de tentoonstelling is minder letterlijk binnen het festival thema te plaatsten, hoewel het speciaal voor Sonic Acts gemaakt is. Niettemin is het een prachtig lichtsculptuur dat roterende lichtbanen op de muren werpt. De wisselende kleurbanen worden gemaakt door drie grote ringen van verschillende diameter, opgehangen in het midden van de ruimte, waarbinnen witte, rode en blauwe led lichtjes rondreizen in verschillende snelheden. De schaduwen en lichtprojecties zijn daardoor elke rotatie anders. Als toeschouwer beïnvloedt je projectie, behalve wanneer je in de cirkels gaat staan. Maar dan zie je de projectie niet. Mooi en fascinerend was ook ~~Kulunka~~ (2012) van Yolanda Uriz Elizalde. Zij laat ons geluid horen, zien en voelen in een donkere ruimte met behulp van speakers in een glazen bak met water. De door geluidsfrequenties veroorzaakte patronen in het water reflecteert ze met stroboscopisch licht op het plafond waaronder de bezoeker op een houten 'bedje' wordt blootgesteld aan dezelfde trillingen. Een ervaring waar je goed de tijd voor moet nemen, wil je het in de catalogustekst genoemde effect van gewichtsloosheid ondergaan. Tijdens de drukbezochte opening was het door in- en uitlopende bezoekers iets te onrustig daarvoor. Yolande Uriz Elizalde ~~Kulunka~~ foto door pieter.kers@beeld.nu In de laatste ruimte, ietwat achteraf in het souterrain wordt ten slotte Jürgen Reble's film Materia Obscura vertoont. Reble neemt ons mee naar de wereld van de kleine chemische deeltjes, waarover we net zo weinig weten als over het immense heelal. Zeer aan te raden is de audiotour van Justin Bennet, getiteld Spectral Analysis WG (2013). Hij creëert een spannend en mysterieus verhaal gebaseerd op de geschiedenis van het anatomisch laboratorium. Leuke bijkomstigheid is dat je de kans krijgt om de omgeving van het voormalig ziekenhuisterrein eens wat beter te bekijken. Zo stond ik zaterdagnacht om kwart voor twaalf in waarschijnlijk de koudste nacht van het jaar onder de poort bij het Helmerplantsoen minutenlang te luisteren naar de elektromagnetisch geluidspulsen van twee bomen. En dat vat de avond goed samen: koud, vreemd en mooi.   Liselotte Doeswijk www.vormvanvermaak.nl

Thank you so much



It’s over. This year’s Sonic Acts festival has come to an end after four days of exploring, experiencing and immersing.   The Sonic Acts Team would like to thank everyone who made this Sonic Acts edition such a beautiful, successful and above all very memorable event!  

  • To our speakers, artists, board and funders, to all who contributed their time and energy;
  • To our partners, photographers, production support, technicians and everyone else involved;
  • To our amazing support crew before and during the festival, our partner organizations and their staff – Paradiso, De Balie, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, NASA, STEIM, Melkweg, OT301, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Vondelkerk -, to our bloggers and last but surely not least toour fantastic volunteers;
  • And to all of you who came to experience and participate in The Dark Universe:

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  The Sonic Acts team Annette, Arie, Gideon, Lucas, Martijn & Nicky     NRC next, De Volkskrant, Metro, Het Parool, Noordhollands Dagblad, De:Bug, Kindamuzik, Casa Luna, Radio2 Cappuccino, Cafe Sonore, trendbeheer, MetropolisM, DJ Broadcast and Gonzo (Circus) covered the festival in depth with interviews, previews and reviews. You can also read various reports on our own website.   In the next couple of days we’ll be uploading photo’s and video’s of the festival events on our Facebook page and on our Flickr, so keep an eye out for that.   Subscribe yourself to our newsletter (see the field on the right side of the menu bar) our twitter of Facebook to get updates about our upcoming events and activities.   This year we chose to release our festival book full of interviews, essays and art after the festival, you can buy it now in our shop!

Website The Dark Universe online



As Sonic Acts XV - The Dark Universe approaches, the new website has launched on 2013.sonicacts.com. The latest news, updates and info on the coming edition of the Sonic Acts festival will be posted there. The portal will be updated with info that are not necessarily connected to The Dark Universe.   So in the mean time, visit 2013.sonicacts.com.

Cut Hands and Lee Gamble added to line-up opening



Cut Hands, the project by William Bennet (ex-Whithouse) and Lee Gamble have been added to the line-up of the opening of The Dark Universe exhibition on January 12th!   Other confirmed artists are Raime and Peter Swanson. This opening is organized in collaboration with NASA and Viral Radio.   See the Facebook event page here.   Lee Gamble:   Cut Hands:

The Dark Universe exhibition



Sonic Acts –The Dark Universe opens early next year, starting five weeks before the actual festival with the extensive Sonic Acts exhibition at New Art Space Amsterdam (NASA). With installations that trigger our senses through light, sound and vibration, art that explores the boundaries of our knowledge.   The Dark Universe exhibition presents work by various artists including Félicie d’Estienne d’Orves (FR), Matthijs Munnik (NL),HC Gilje (NO), Ivana Franke (HR), Matthew Biederman (USA), Semiconductor(UK), Justin Bennett (UK/NL) en Yolanda Uriz Elizalde (ES).   Sonic Acts - 'The Dark Universe' exhibition at NASA – New Art Space Amsterdam Arie Biemondstraat 105–113, 1054 PD Amsterdam   12 January till 24 February 2013 Entrance is free    

According to Gonzo (circus), Kontraste is the best festival of 2012 so far!



REVIEW: Kontraste (Krems) – The Best Festival of 2012    We took some time thinking about this, but the conclusion seems unavoidable: even though this year has not yet drawn to close, we would like to declare the Kontraste Festival in Krems (12–14 October 2012) as far and away the best festival of 2012.   In 2012 the curatorial team of Amsterdam’s Sonic Acts festival compiled a programme for the Kontraste festival held in the beautiful Austrian town of Krems for the second time. Their efforts once again resulted in a wonderful festival in terms of artistic content, organisation, culinary delights and social interaction.   Electric Shadows Krems has 23,000 inhabitants and is situated in a region (Wachau) about 80 kilometres from Vienna that is included on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites. The city is home to remarkable churches and is open to and provides a striking amount of space for (avant-garde) art. During the festival the local Kunsthalle exhibited a retrospective of Francis Picabia, the French (Cubist, Dadaist and Surrealist) painter, poet and typographer. The former, thirteenth-century Minorite church, once part of a monastery, was secularised in the eighteenth century, and since 1992 has been a place where sound art is exhibited (Klangraum Krems). An adjoining building was converted into the Kunstraum Stein exhibition space.   The theme of the festival was ‘Electric Shadows’. Humans can only perceive a very limited range of frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum. Our eyes only ‘see’ ‘visible’ light (and not infrared or ultraviolet), our hearing is limited to perceiving between 20 Hz and 20 kHz, and so forth. The curatorial team wanted ‘Electric Shadows’ to be 'a journey through the electromagnetic spectrum’. This was achieved by linear programming (films and lectures during the day, music and projections during live performances in the evenings, all neatly combined and sequenced with sufficient time between events), with the opportunity to participate in several soundwalks for the duration of the festival. The installations were accessible throughout the festival period (Friday 12 to Sunday 14 October).   Lectures The lectures on Saturday by Simon Ings, Raviv Ganchrow and an interview with Semiconductor in the cinema Kino im Kesselhaus on the the Kremser University campus (once the location of the the Österreichischen Tabakregie factories), were very well attended, despite the glorious summer weather.   In his somewhat messy presentation entitled 'What Colour Is the Moon', Simon Ings, author of, among others, the novels The Weight of Numbers (2006) and Dead Water (2010), the non-fiction book The Eye: A Natural History (2007), and editor of Arc, a magazine that explores the future through cutting-edge science fiction and forward-looking essays, emphasised the urgent need for space travel (because we have ruined our planet), and what it could mean and involve for observations of the universe. It was a pleasant enough story, more Utopian than practical – and it’s such a pity that the majority of the global population is so far removed from his suggestions….   In his lecture Raviv Ganchrow discussed his search for a suitable location for his installation Play. He used words, images and sounds, making it a very lively lecture that drew listeners into his discourse about the pros and cons of various sites and the possibilities or impossibilities presented by different locations in Krems’ (spacious) surroundings.   Next, Arie Altena interviewed Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt of Semiconductor about their choices for and how they created some of their films such as Brilliant Noise, Heliocentric and Magnetic Movie. Brilliant Noise is a beautiful 'compilation' of found black-and-white footage of the sun (including spectacular eruptions) from the archives of scientific research institutes, accompanied by a soundtrack consisting of radio frequencies and additional audio manipulations.   Heliocentric used an ingenious set-up of images and 'astronomical tracking’ to prove that the Earth really does revolve around the sun, by constantly keeping the sun static at the centre of the image while the surroundings kept on moving around it. Magnetic Movie – a cinematic representation of the electromagnetic fields in our living and working environments – was actually intended as an art (joke). Apparently, it was so convincing that scientists asked the duo some serious questions about the veracity of the images and the possibility of Semiconductor doing something similar for them.   Films The first part of the three-part film programme followed, under the overarching theme of 'Shadowplay'. Besides the powerful and now more than 25-year-old work Surface Tension by William Raban and, to a lesser extent, Peter Kubelka's famous Adebar (and despite names like Iimura, Becks and Lebrat), this was not such a strong beginning to the film programme, largely because of the lack of urgency and mediocre development of ideas.   The film programme on Sunday was more coherent and much stronger (although it was a bit too long, leaving too little time to eat before the evening programme began). The theme of the second programme was the ‘Dark Side of the Sun’, with some (very) powerful films from Mika Taanila (The Zone of Total Eclipse, 2006), Peter Tscherkassy (Outer Space, 1999), Phil Solomon (Nocturne, 1980) and especially Manuel Knapp (Voidov ~ State of Obliteration, 2012), where the images (black and white, with constantly mutating geometric figures and shifting blocks and lines) and sound (noise, drones, and subtle elaborations on these) interacted superbly. Makino Takashi's The Intimate Stars, a compilation of short, poetic films made between 2002 and 2004, and based on images of nature, was – also because of it being a compilation – just a little too long to be engaging.   The third part of the film programme, ‘Distant Planets’, was about unknown worlds and secret, hidden places. The best works in this section came from Jennifer Reeves (Landfill, 2011, 16'00) and Jeanne Liotta (Observando el Cielo, 2007, although at 19 minutes, a bit too long as well). Alexander Steward’s Crusts (2011), impressive but also on the long side, combined psychedelic imagery of natural artifacts with a drone soundtrack.   Soundwalks The overarching theme of the soundwalks was ‘Probing Acoustic and Electromagnetic Waves'.   Justin Bennett’s Spectral Analysis used a series of audible resonances as the starting point of an hour-long walk through Krems’ medieval centre, with five stops at selected locations. The resonances were (mostly) caused by the interplay between the size, bulk, contours and material used in the streets, buildings, squares, courtyards, arcades and underpasses. These were combined with typical city sounds such as church bells, a car starting, or the sound of steel on steel from a workshop.   Bennett’s theoretical roots for this project lie with lesser known researchers and discoverers of specific radiation phenomena, including Heinrich Herz, Nikola Tesla, Winfried Otto Schumann, Franz Anton Mesmer and Ernst Hartmann. At one of the stops, in a courtyard, Bennett also incorporated resonances from the area in the (sound) spectrum that is inaudible to humans such as the Schumann resonances in the extremely low frequency portion (7.86 Hz) of the Earth’s electromagnetic field spectrum.   Small and intimate, Piaristen Park was another beautiful stop on this walk. Bennett let participants hear the sound of skin tension changing because of frequency fluctuations in the electromagnetic field and in ground currents. Each spot thus became a place where theory and practise merged, with a ‘soundtrack’ full of sounds and resonances specific to each place. Not every place was necessarily very exciting, but the complete experience – the collection of five stories and soundtracks – was well worth the walk.   Walking with sound The walk by the British trio Duncan Speakman, Sarah Anderson and Emilie Grenier, aka Circumstance (title: There was always our Voice) was primarily a group activity that initially appeared to be somewhat dull and simplistic, but eventually produced beautiful effects: groups of six walked through the beautiful medieval city centre, carrying a square sound box (including a GPS tracker). Every few hundred yards a person from each group was asked to stand still while the others continued walking until everyone had a designated location. After a particular sound was emitted by the box participants began looking for each other, using the creaks and squeaks produced by the sound box as a guide. The interaction between the (autonomous sound-producing) boxes was especially beautiful, sometimes prompting frowns, an occasional smile or even a curious question from shoppers and passersby.   Netherlands-based, American artist Raviv Ganchrow installed his installation Play approximately eight kilometers from Krems in two service tunnels adjacent to a car tunnel beneath the town of Dürnstein. The location was open from 10.00 to 18.00 for the duration of the festival, and the organisation arranged a trip to it on Sunday: those who wanted to could take a bus to the installation.   Ganchrow suspended (special and sometimes prepared) microphones in and near the tunnel to record specific sounds (from different spectra). These were then played through loudspeakers. By making restricted parts of the tunnel accessible for this project, Ganchrow created a very special atmosphere for a sometimes extraordinarily beautiful (random-generated) soundtrack of the tunnel and its surroundings.   The radiant summer weather meant that the scheduled lunch, including fine wines from the restaurant’s own vineyard, could be enjoyed outdoors.   Installations The installations were the greatest triumph of the festival, and were open to the public for it duration. Ivana Franke, Yolanda Uriz Elizalde and Matthew Biederman realised their works under the overarching title ‘Reflections of the Mind’. Yolanda Uriz Elizalde (ES) located ‘~~ Kulunka~~ ‘, her immersive installation that stimulated all of our senses except the olfactory, in an underground room of the Archives Zeitgenossen (beneath the Kino im Kesselhaus cinema).   A maximum of five visitors (at one time) sat on mats with their heads resting on a specific spot on the mat. The dark, closed (and soundproofed) room was only dimly lit by a number of LEDs beneath a bucket filled with water that was set in motion by low-frequency sound, creating beautiful wave patterns on the ceiling. The mats also vibrated with the sound frequencies. Making this a supine experience for the audience and the careful design of this installation (in itself a fairly basic setup), created a powerful experience.   Seeing With Your Eyes Closed (2011) by Ivana Franke (HR) in the darkened chapter-house of the Minorite church was a multisensory experience. One visitor at a time sat on a low bench opposite a metre-tall, arched 'lightbox’ with hundreds of LEDs (that, because of its shape, mostly surrounded the visitor). After pressing a button that started a program controlling the LEDs, visitors closed their eyes and experienced the'light show' as an intense, visually exciting and stimulating cerebral experience that was made all the more powerful by the silence in the room.   Matthew Biederman (US) installed his multi-channel HD audiovisual installation Event Horizon in the nearby Forum Frohner. The work was a remake of a version he produced earlier in 2012 as a commission from the Montreal Biennale for Electronic Arts. For Krems he changed the size, and altered a geometric shape on the floor between the projector and the screen.   The hall in the Forum Frohner was built for 50 people, but anyone taking a look in the early morning after it had just opened, could peacefully enjoy the interplay between the wonderful colours and shapes that were randomly generated by a computer. The screen was divided into three horizontal planes, with the centre panel (sometimes broad, sometimes narrow) separating the upper and lower panels. The centre plane functioned as a 'horizon', with the 'soil' below and the 'air' above in states of constant flux.   However, the title Event Horizon suggested there might be more philosophical horizons behind what was visible, where events unfold (whether or not in your own mind). The coloured areas were based on red, blue and green, mixed with black. This resulted in extremely bright colours one moment and more subdued colours the next, shaped in all possible variations of length and breadth. This work was accompanied by mainly low droney tones, with a fair amount of noise, combined in a beautiful and compelling soundtrack. Those who spent at least half an hour here witnessed the full glory of the evolving forms and colours. The only downside was that there weren’t enough seats, so the average (standing) visitor probably didn’t last the full half hour. Perhaps at its next showing a row of chairs that don’t obstruct the view could maximise the viewing and listening experience.   What these three works make clear is that locating them in special surroundings intensifies the way visitors experience them. Everyone know this, of course, but the average gallery and/or art institute should take special note: works included in the light-and-sound carnivals that characterise so many other festivals are often plagued by varying degrees of inteference (especially sound) from adjacent works. After all, such festivals should focus on the intensity of each experience (which require hermetic environments), rather than maximising the number of installations and creating clutter. In such situations no single work can be fully appreciated and make little lasting impact on the visitors. This is insulting to visitors, and downright rude to the makers of the works.   Live performances: Friday The live performances were all held in the Minorite church that is well equipped for this purpose. The young Dutch media artist Matthijs Munnik kicked started the festival on Friday evening (theme: ‘Stroboscopic Noise’) with his spectacular work Citadels: Lightscape. The physical setting was redolent of a light box, two metres high, four feet wide and two feet deep, that had been placed on its widest side. At first the seam between the plexiglass plates that interrupted the image was a little disturbing, but this faded.   Munnik started his light show slowly with a strobe behind plexiglass, using different colours, intensities and frequencies of light. These gradually evolved into a bright, monochrome light, whereby the differences in intensity and frequency (both the abstract and the more figurative) produced images on the retina. All the visitors had this psychedelic experience, though it was not clear whether they saw the same images at any particular point in the performance – perhaps something Munnik might like to research further?   Bruce McClure (US), who uses the film projector as an instrument, only managed to engage his audience for about half an hour with his As yours so mine to reconstruct. It was light and airy in the beginning with some in-jokes, but soon after the projector was turned on he used a microphone and a host of effect devices to mutate its mechanical rattle into a swathe of industrial-noise (redolent of a fan’s motor or an aircraft engine), and also began playing with two strobes. These robbed the performance of its tension, because when they were switched on they completely outshone the 'white' light from the film projector, and the nuances on the screen completely disappeared.   The Synchronatorchestra, with Gert-Jan Prins, Bas Koolwijk, Justin Bennett, Billy Roisz, Jerome Noetinger, and Robin Fox, premiered a new work. Central to the sextet is the Syncronator, invented by Prins and Koolwijk, which converts (analogue) audio inputs to (video) signals. Three audio channels input to the three primary colours R(ed), Y(ellow), B(lue).   Each perfomer stood in front of a stack of three monitors with identical projections that created a video wall consisting of six times three (identical) images. It was was very powerful at times, but in the beginning it seemed as if they still had to find each other; they weren’t performing as a unit. They seemed to coalesce as the performance progressed, and it all became much more interesting and intense.   Live performances: Saturday Saturday evening’s theme was 'Bending Light’. Unfortunately the concert Abberation of Light: Dark Chamber Disclosure by opening act (Sandra) Recoder, (Luis) Gibson & (Olivia) Block was unsuccessful: Recoder and Gibson’s flowing images were scattered across the vaults of the entire church instead of being projected on the screen, so some of their work was lost. Playing fragments of film (in reverse, some very recognisable) through the live images was effective enough, but did not result in a memorable performance, also because the music (by Block) failed to captivate.   Optical Machines (Rikkert Brok and Maarten Halmans, both Dutch) stole the show this evening with 'SHIFT'; their 'simple' images made using pieces of perforated material were utterly convincing, and were even more impressive when you saw how they were created (by ‘simply’ moving a hand in front of the light source). Musically, the soundtrack accompanying 'SHIFT', with its dark tones and semi-industrial sounds, was equally compelling.   Makino Takashi (JP) ended this evening’s programme with a fine perfomance of 2012 act.4. Act.4 consisted of Takashi’s by now signature grainy images (and sounds) that refer to (or evoke) rain, water and (radioactive) fallout; these propelled particles (read: noise) created an almost apocalyptic atmosphere, until about three quarters of the way through this 'cloud cover' tore apart and structures somewhat geometric and resembling a polder landscape became visible. Like much of his work this was also a very poetic piece.   Live performances: Sunday Sunday’s theme was ‘Spectral Discharge’. Yamila Rios (ES), who lives in the Netherlands, and Joris Strijbos (NL) started the evening with their COVEX performance. Strijbos used a laser to conjure up slow-moving, shape-shifting projections while Ríos overlaid these with drones and noise. The performance went up a notch when Ríos started interacting with the drone/noise soundtrack using her prepared cello ('Marcelino').   Otolab were less subtle. In their performance titled Bleeding, Fabio Volpi and Luigi Massimiliano Gusmini, both from Italy, used a screen divided into two parts and projected a rapid stream of constantly shifting and contrasting, often geometric shapes (lines, crosses, etc.), which also relied on retention, to create an exciting piece – especially because the music was underpinned by rather ragged, brutal beats, the tempo and volume of which were sometimes reminiscent of gabber music. The absence of subtlety amplified the effectiveness of this work.   Visual artist HC Gilje and sound artist Maja Ratkje ended the festival. The setting was impressive: eighteen large (40 x 40 cm) monitors were stacked in a semicircle about eight feet high. Ratkje stood with her equipment in the centre of this monitor array, while Gilje, on a slightly raised platform in the audience, watched the monitors. Besides the familiar noise sounds, Ratkje also squeezed a strikingly number of high frequencies out of her equipment. This was an event in itself, because (white) noise and drones had prevailed during the rest of the festival. So many possibilities, yet so much was confined to specific dynamic and frequency spectra that many wondered if these performance artists (or this generation of performance artists) have agreed to a convention about this, or simply have a limited approach to sound. Ratkje also manipulated her impressive voice with electronics, evoking references to Laurie Anderson, often peaking in high tones as well. Gilje improvised with the intensity of the colours and the shapes on the monitors, producing intensely beautiful images, with Ratkje as a black silhouette in front them.   Give the public and the artists more wonderful festivals This was a perfect ending to an amazing festival that drew a lot of people (though the number of paying visitors was modest), with artists lyrically praising the production team’s professionalism and attention to detail that even embraced the catering.   Kontraste is the ideal example of what a festival should be: well curated, with linear programming, professionally produced, and good food. All of this took place at a few (special) locations where the audience and artists could mingle and chat with each other, fostering an intimate, almost familial atmosphere. Where else could you team up with Gusmini of Otolab in a game of table football against Maja Ratkje and others (and win) in the backstage area at one in the morning, or enjoy a delicious lunch with Gert Jan Prins, Bas Koolwijk, Semiconductor and media artist Tina Frank? Next year, let’s all rent a bus and go to Krems. At the very least, a unique festival such as this deserves a large audience – and we a wonderful festival.   by Ge Huismans 6 November 2012 Where: Kontraste, 12–14 October, Krems Kontraste 2013: 11–13 October. www.kontraste.at

Call for Volunteers: Sonic Acts XV – The Dark Universe



Are you interested in technology, art, new media and electronic music? Sonic Acts is an interdisciplinary arts festival that presents four days of cutting edge performances, a wide range of concerts, screenings and an exhibition. Also part of the festival is an international conference with interesting lectures.   Sonic Acts is looking for volunteers to assist with communication and production. Furthermore, we will need bloggers, photographers and stewards for the information desk and artist handling. Volunteers at Sonic Acts are offered a unique opportunity to gain valuable (net)work experience.   About Sonic Acts The Sonic Acts festival has been running since 1994 and attracts several thousands of visitors. The fifteenth edition of Sonic Acts, titled The Dark Universe, will take place from 21-24 February 2013 at various different locations in Amsterdam. The main festival location are Paradiso for the live performances, the opening will be at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the exhibition takes place at New Art Space Amsterdam (NASA). With The Dark Universe, Sonic Acts explores the boundaries of our knowledge. It brings together scientists, artists, theorists, musicians and composers from all over the world. They investigate how to make the invisible imaginable, teach us how to embrace the unknown, and guide us through the dark universe.   What can you do? ­Blogging - During the festival we need bloggers who review the festival performances. Photography - Sonic Acts is looking for talented photographers to capture the festival and exhibition opening. Information desk- As host, you're the first point of contact for artists and visitors with questions about the programme during the festival. Artists handling – Special assistance for artists and speakers. Pre-production – In the days before the festival we will need extra hands to build up things for the festival.   What can we offer? - free entrance to the conference & festival - free tickets to concerts for the distribution of flyers - valuable (net)working experience - travel support within theNetherlands - light lunches / dinners & drinks - free copy of the new Sonic Acts publication   We need your help to make this year’s festival a success. If you’re interested please do not hesitate to contact Rick Everts via vrijwillig@sonicacts.com or (+31) (0)20 6264521.

12 January 2013 Opening exhibition of Sonic Acts at NASA



Sonic Acts –The Dark Universe opens early next year, starting five weeks before the actual festival with the extensive Sonic Acts exhibition at New Art Space Amsterdam (NASA) - former SMART Project Space.   In the weeks leading up to the festival you can visit this exhibition of installations and other works that explore aspects of The Dark Universe. On 12 January we will organise a festive opening of the exhibition, which also kicks off the festival.   It's the perfect opportunity to celebrate the New Year together. The opening starts at 21:00 with live performances by Peter Swanson and Raime, DJs, and drinks.   See you 12 January 2013 at 21:00 then! See who is coming on Facebook.     Festival: 21 – 24 February 2013 Sonic Acts – The Dark Universe   The fifteenth edition of Sonic Acts, entitled The Dark Universe, takes place from 21– 24 February 2013 at several different locations in Amsterdam. With The Dark Universe, Sonic Acts explores the boundaries of our knowledge.   Starting points for the theme The Dark Universe are recent developments in science. These developments show that our world is more unfamiliar and weirder than we imagine. We know that in all likelihood only 4 per cent of the universe is made of ordinary matter, while the other 96 per cent remains completely dark to us. Think of the recent discovery of the ‘missing’ Higgs boson or the realisation that time and space do not correctly represent reality as we have come to understand it since Newton. The Dark Universe celebrates the deeply rooted human desire to occupy ourselves with mysteries. The arts and sciences have always been at the core of our exploration of the unknown, the strange, and the unfamiliar. Artists and scientists repeatedly rethink reality and question the things we think we know.   For The Dark Universe, Sonic Acts brings together scientists, artists, theorists, musicians and composers. They investigate how to make the invisible imaginable, teach us how to embrace the unknown, and guide us through the dark universe. Expect experiments with projections, sound generation and ‘expanded’ experiences to enhance the senses. This way, in a metaphorical sense, a work (of art) can function as an instrument to make dark matter visible and dark energy tangible.   We will announce the first names of the line-up for The Dark Universe in a few weeks.  

Describing the Indescribable, Sonic Acts and Gonzo (Circus) workshop on critical writing



The critical writing workshop takes place during the Sonic Acts festival from 21-24 February 2013. It starts with an introductory meeting, followed by a series of working sessions on each festival day. Workshop participants will cover the festival performances, conference, exhibition and events of the festival. Renowned & experienced journalists and writers will give insight into specific aspects of their writing (language, style, focus) and provide feedback to the texts written by the workshop participants during Sonic Acts.   Who is it for? The workshop is aimed at a maximum of 20 emerging European bloggers, journalists, critics and writers active or interested in the field of interdisciplinary arts (media arts, film, visual arts, performance). Applicants will be asked to submit a short motivation and CV to write[AT]sonicacts[DOT]com and will be selected by an expert panel. Deadline for application is 31 January 2013.   Who is involved? Authors of the Dutch/Belgian music magazine Gonzo (Circus) and writers/editors from other European magazines/blogging platforms such as Neural will facilitate the workshop. Please e-mail to write[AT]sonicacts[DOT]com if you want additional information.   Organised by Sonic Acts in collaboration with Gonzo (Circus), in partnership with Neural. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.

Theme: The Dark Universe



Festival: 21 – 24 February 2013 Sonic Acts – The Dark Universe   The fifteenth edition of Sonic Acts, entitled The Dark Universe, takes place from 21– 24 February 2013 at several different locations in Amsterdam. With The Dark Universe, Sonic Acts explores the boundaries of our knowledge.   Starting points for the theme The Dark Universe are recent developments in science. These developments show that our world is more unfamiliar and weirder than we imagine. We know that in all likelihood only 4 per cent of the universe is made of ordinary matter, while the other 96 per cent remains completely dark to us. Think of the recent discovery of the ‘missing’ Higgs boson or the realisation that time and space do not correctly represent reality as we have come to understand it since Newton. The Dark Universe celebrates the deeply rooted human desire to occupy ourselves with mysteries. The arts and sciences have always been at the core of our exploration of the unknown, the strange, and the unfamiliar. Artists and scientists repeatedly rethink reality and question the things we think we know.   For The Dark Universe, Sonic Acts brings together scientists, artists, theorists, musicians and composers. They investigate how to make the invisible imaginable, teach us how to embrace the unknown, and guide us through the dark universe. Expect experiments with projections, sound generation and ‘expanded’ experiences to enhance the senses. This way, in a metaphorical sense, a work (of art) can function as an instrument to make dark matter visible and dark energy tangible.   We will announce the first names of the line-up for The Dark Universe in a few weeks.

Save the Date: Sonic Acts 2013



Yes, there will be a Sonic Acts festival from 21 - 24 February 2013!   More details and information to follow soon. Keep an eye on the website for more news, or if you want to be the first to know: sign up to our newsletter (above), or join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Out now: Cahier Kontraste #2 - A Ray of Darkness



‘Most of the universe is dark’, writes Roger Malina in his essay for A Ray of Darkness. It is because, as he writes, ‘We now know that the human senses are very efficient filters, and that almost all of the world around us cannot be directly perceived by human senses.’ The current research even suggests that only 4% of the universe consists of normal matter – the rest is invisible to us, and is, until now, undetected by our instruments. This is the starting point for A Ray of Darkness, the second Kontraste Cahier. It can be purchased here in our shop.   A Ray of Darkness is edited by Arie Altena on the occasion of the 2012 Kontraste festival (Krems, Austria). The book contains an essay, commissioned by Sonic Acts/Kontraste, on cosmology and data collection by astronomer and Leonardo editor Roger Malina; an introductory text by Arie Altena; and a collection of quotes from various sources exploring the concepts of dark matter and dark energy. Designed by Femke Herregraven, printed in full colour, and lavishly illustrated with many scientific photographs, this publication brings together 21st-century cosmology and experimental art in light and sound.   A Ray of Darkness, Kontraste Cahier II  Edited by Arie Altena/Sonic Acts, Amsterdam: Sonic Acts Press 2012.  Designed by Femke Herregraven.  60p. Full colour, illustrated.  ISBN 978-90-810470-5–0. Buy it here.   Roger Malina is an astronomer and Distinguished Professor of Art and Technology at the University of Texas, Dallas. Since 1982 he has been the Executive Editor of Leonardo Publications at MIT Press.   Arie Altena writes about the intersections between art and technology. He is part of the Sonic Acts curatorial team.   Kontraste Cahiers is a series edited by Sonic Acts for Kontraste. These publications contain intriguing thoughts and materials connected to the Kontraste festival themes.   Buy 2 items from our shop and get a 2,- euro discount. Click here.

Kontraste 2012 was great!



We look back on a very successful Kontraste festival in Krems!   As the program was very sharply curated this year, we're really proud of everything that took place and all the people that helped make it a success.   If you missed this Kontraste, or would like to enjoy some aspects of it again, Kontraste Cahier No. 2: 'A Ray of Darkness' is available in our shop. Browse through the short video's of the rehearsals and performances of various artists, including Bruce McClure, Matthew Biederman, Circumstance and others!   We have already started preparing for the next Kontraste Festival in Krems, which will take place from 11 to 13 October 2013. But first: See you in Amsterdam at Sonic Acts' fifteenth (!) edition on February 21st to 24th 2013!

More news posts coming soon



With the launch of our new portal website, we still have to copy over all old news post. If you are searching for a specific old news post, please contact Sonic Acts via info@sonicacts.com

Sonic Blog: Colour Music Past, Colour Music Future



‘Colour Music Recollections’ was the name of the screening that took place on the afternoon of the festival’s second day at De Balie. It was introduced as “A programme with films that relate in different ways to historical performance practices of colour music.” (Sonic Acts Website), and after watching it, ‘historical’ really seemed to be the keyword. The selection of the films themselves, their protagonists/authors as well as the order of their screening were true to the word in a very literal sense as the programme slowly made its way from Schwerdtfeger’s early work of 1922, ‘Reflektorische Lichtspiele’ to Charles Dockum’s ’1969 Mobilcolor Projector Film’, breaking the strictly linear timeline only with the very last film, Hy Hirsh’s ‘Come closer’jumping back to 1953 (it seemed they did this for the sake of a ‘happy ending’, since it was the piece of the selection that was best described by the words ‘joyful’ and ‘lighthearted’) . Spanning over almost 50 years of history of Colour Music, involving groundbreaking works of their time, the selection seemed to present the evolvement of the ‘state of the art’ in the field of audiovisual/colour music film. But for me personally the intruiging fact was not that it was an interesting recollection of the history of this field but the perspective one was able to gain by comparing it to contemporary works in the audiovisual field, especially in the applied and commercial sector. The screening started with Schwerdtfeger’s ‘Reflektorische Lichtspiele’, originally a live performance but made into a short film of 18 minutes for the sake of documentation. The actual performance, judging by the film, must have involved at least 4 or more people to operate, and consisted of an arrangement of lights, filtered by cut out shapes, grids and coloured foil pieces, all moved individually and in sync by trained students of the Bauhaus. Even though the setup of the contraption might sound almost archaic compared to contemporary technology used in the production of light-shows, the resulting image and overall aesthetic seemed not so far from images produced by today’s club-VJs. While for Schwerdtfeger’s work this might be only true in the eyes of some people, this notion became stronger and stronger while sitting through the other films of the screening. Jud Yalkut’s caleidoscopic multiplications and distorted and bent tv images as well as Hy Hirsh’s moving, three dimensional-like shapes, one would expect to be programmed particle systems or rendered spline objects if they weren’t from 1953, seemed so close to contemporary visual vocabularies in motion graphics and abstract audiovisual material that the viewer might easily find himself in the position of stating that ‘history repeats itself’ and that artistic pioneers of any kind were always copied and cited for decades after. While that may be very true, there might also be another explanation for this phenomenon. Be aware that this is the part where this blogpost turns into mere speculation and should not be taken too seriously anymore (if you didn’t do that already from the beginning). Because maybe the speed of time of the content and it’s mediating technology is just very different sometimes. While the technology to produce such visual output (software, hardware and practice) has become more and more mainstream and sophisticated (think of the range of Vj and Motion Graphics software products, the hype about projection mapping etc.), its visual vocabulary may just have not advanced as fast and took a lot more time to evolve. Just by watching the retrospective alone one could find similarities in lots of formalistic aspects, even though it was such a broad range of pioneers they showed. And this is exactly why this particular selection was very inspiring, not just because the shown films were important works of their respective field and a treat to watch (apart from the length of some clips which seemingly exceeded the attention span of parts of the audience), but also because in a way they showed that there is still such a lot of untapped potential for evolving and refining the vocabulary of ‘Colour Music’/Audiovisual Experiences/Motion Graphics or however it will be called in its hopefully bright future. Bartholomäus Traubeck

Travelling Time exhibition at NIMk



For those of you who didn’t have time to see the Travelling Time exhibition at Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk) during the festival- no disappointment here, it’s still open! The Sonic Acts – Travelling Time exhibition can be visited until 15 April 2012. Opening hours are thursday to friday: 11:00 – 17:00 hrs, saturday & sunday: 13:00 – 17:00 hrs at NIMk, Keizergracht 264 in Amsterdam. Admission is free with any Sonic Acts ticket. Have a look at the NIMk website for more detailed information. On the Sonic Acts Facebook you will also find a short video about the installation “Factoid #3″ by Mark Fell. About the exhibition: The exhibition at NIMk presents several installations, sound– and film works that explore different modalities of time. They seemingly halt the experience of time, deal with speed in the city, resist the sequential montage of classic cinema, or leave the visitor in suspension because action is continuously deferred. Immersive, pensive, scientifically precise or overwhelming, all these works tickle the brain and the senses. The exhibition officially opens at 16:30, and will include public interviews with three of the featured artists: Daïchi SaïtoJuliana Borinski and Julien Maire. Works by Joe Gilmore (UK)Julien Maire (FR) Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec (SI)Philipp Lachenmann (DE), Juliana Borinski (BR/DE),  Mark Fell (UK) will be shown.

Sonic Acts says Thank You



We look back on a very successful and well attended festival. Highlights included the three concerts by CC Hennix & The Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage, the concert by Pauline Oliveros, the keynote lecture by George Dyson, and a full atrium for the Long String Instrument performance by Ellen Fullman in the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ. We had a great and concentrated audience – super-silent on Sunday evening – who helped make the festival an intense experience. NRC, De Volkskrant, Trouw, Het Parool, Metropolis M and Gonzo Circus covered the festival in depth with interviews, previews and reviews. You can also read various reports on our own website. If you missed this festival, or would like to enjoy some aspects of it again, the book Travelling Time, featuring interviews with musicians who performed at Sonic Acts XIV, and articles by theorists who lectured at the conference, is for sale in the Sonic Acts shop. Sonic Acts and Important Records also released a sublime CD of CC Hennix & The Chora(s)san Time-Court MirageLive at the Grimm Museum, in Berlin. Also available via the website. Re-living parts the festival will soon be possible too: the live streams of the conference will be archived online on the Sonic Acts website, and will be announced through our Facebook. Sonic Acts XIV was only possible thanks to the enormous efforts of all of the crew-members, partners and especially our volunteers: THANK YOU! We are interested in hearing your opinions, and would appreciate if you would take the time to answer a few questions (we promise it won’t take more than 5 minutes). We’ll be giving away 10 CD’s of CC Hennix & The Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage among respondents. We have already started preparing for the next Kontraste Festival in Krems (Austria), which will take place from 12 to 14 October 2012

KindaMuzik’s liverecension of Sonic Acts XIV



Sven Schlijper from KindaMuzik attended Sonic Acts – Travelling Time and reviewed, among others, the exhibition at NIMk, “Shutter Interface” by Paul Sharits, the performances of Mark Fell and Emptyset at Paradiso, CC Hennix + The Choras(s)an Time-Court Mirage, Pauline Oliveros and many more. Read his review (in Dutch) and remember your highlights of this Sonic Acts edition. Give your opinion about the festival here.

Kontraste Festival 2012



From 12-14 October 2012, the Kontraste Festival – curated by Sonic Acts – will take place in Krems, Austria. Have a look at the festival website for additional information. www.kontraste.at ‘…a voracious appetite for sound and ideas…’  (The Wire about Kontraste 2011)

Boomkat reviews CC Hennix & The Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage



Boomkat reviewed the collaborative release by Sonic Acts and Important Records:”Stunning”. Read the full review here and order the CD here.

Sonic Acts zoekt stagiair(e) online media & P2P communicatie (1 okt 2012 t/m 1 mrt 2013)



Omschrijving stageplek Sonic Acts is een kleine organisatie, waarbinnen een stagiair(e) als volwaardig lid van het team functioneert. Hou er rekening mee dat dit een werkstage is waarbij het realiseren van een nieuwe festivaleditie voorop staat. Voor eigen onderzoeken of aparte opdrachten is er nauwelijks tot geen ruimte.

Sonic Acts zoekt een stagiar(e) productie (1 okt 2012 t/m 1 mrt 2013)



Omschrijving stageplek Sonic Acts is een kleine organisatie, waarbinnen een stagiair(e) als volwaardig lid van het team functioneert. Hou er rekening mee dat dit een werkstage is waarbij het realiseren van een nieuwe festivaleditie voorop staat. Voor eigen onderzoeken of aparte opdrachten is er nauwelijks tot geen ruimte.

Photos and videos of the first Dark Ecology Journey



After many months of preparation and four incredible days, the first Dark Ecology journey is over. With a group of 45 artists and theorists we visited sites on both sides of the border between Arctic Norway and Russia. We were in Kirkenes in Norway and the industrial towns of Nikel and Zapolyarny in Russia. Highlights include the lecture by Timothy Morton – the philosopher who coined the term Dark Ecology –, a visit to the mine under the iron ore plant in Kirkenes, and a truly mind-blowing concert in the gymnasium of the school in Nikel, featuring hiphop from Komi and an electrifying performance by Franz Pomassl. All the impressions still have to sink in, but in the meantime we have the first photos and videos to share with you.   For the first photos see the Dark Ecology Facebook or vk page, especially check this photo album on Facebook (photos by Sonic Acts' Annette Wolfsberger) and this Flickr album by Nik Gaffney. Matthijs Munnik made a visual essay about the first Dark Ecology journey. Our Russian partner Fridaymilk made video diaries of each day, you can watch all of them below. More photos, videos and reports will be published in the coming weeks on the Dark Ecology website.   Dark Ecology Day 1 video: Creators, artists, researchers and musicians meet in friendly Kirkenes.   Dark Ecology Day 2 video: Crossing the border to Russia, excursion in foggy Nikel, visiting a fascinating factory and presentations at the culture palace.   Dark Ecology Day 3 video: Sound performance in a garage, eye-tracking of the Northern landscape and tuneful Secret Chamber in a school gym.

Drilling Deep / Knowledge from Underground



SONIC ACTS RESEARCH SERIES #3   By Arie Altena   We have been studying the sky and the stars at least since Sumerian times. Looking up in the sky we look back into time. Our most advanced telescopes detect radiation from the birth of the universe – the birth of time. Beyond that there is nothing to see. We have ventured far into outer space. Voyager 1, dispatched by NASA in 1977, has left our solar system, entered interstellar space, and at a distance of approximately 19 billion kilometres from the Sun, is still transmitting data to Earth. What do we know about the ground below our feet? It is a cliché to state that we know more about the Moon than about the deep sea, but how much do we actually know about what is underground? We know about the composition of the Earth’s crust, mantle and core through remote geophysical methods. Seismic waves travel throughout the Earth, and from the behaviour of those waves we can infer the composition of the material through which they travel. We can ‘listen’ to the Earth to discover what is inside. But how deep have we actually looked into the interior of the Earth? Not very far, it seems. The deepest holes we have ever excavated only penetrate about one-third of the crust. We have never drilled deep enough to reach the mantle on which the continental and oceanic crusts rest.   Deep drilling is apparently as complex and adventurous as sending rockets into outer space, and it is likewise a feat of engineering. One problem is that the deeper you drill the hotter it gets. Temperatures easily go up to 200 degrees Celsius. Standard drilling equipment cannot handle such temperatures.   One reason we know more about the planets in our solar system and the stars than about the Earth's interior might be because our fascination for what is ‘up there’ is far greater than our interest in what is ‘down below’. Culturally what is ‘down below’ is identified with the dark and sinister: it’s the realm of the devil while ‘up there’ has generally been regarded as the realm of light and God. The charm of the subterranean has its own cultural history – Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Ludvig Holberg's Niels Klim's Underground Travels, and stories about mining by the German Romantics are well known examples. Yet, the subterranean imagination does not match the allure of what is up and out there.   The deepest natural cave that humans have descended into is the Krubera Cave in the Caucasus: 2197 metres underground. The deepest gold mines are now operating at depths over 3 kilometres, with the South African TauTona goldmine reaching 3900 metres. When we dig deep, it is usually for money: to extract from the Earth valuable minerals, oil and gas. We use these crushed dinosaurs and prehistoric plants to fuel our economy and lives. Fittingly for the current state of our world, the deepest boreholes are drilled for oil and gas. The current record, set in June 2013, is the Z-42 borehole on Sakhalin Island off the East Russian coast, which has a depth of 12,700 metres (source).

  Drilling deep is like inserting a telescope into the Earth. If you extract drill cores, you can see what is down there. We drill deep for science as well. At the moment scientific deep-drilling programmes occur out at sea. Whereas the much older continental crust can be between 25 and 70 kilometres thick, the oceanic crust is only 7 to 10 kilometres thick, so the mantle can be more easily reached. The first geologic deep-drilling programme at sea was the American Project Mohole, which aimed at drilling through the Earth crust to the Mohorovičić discontinuity, the boundary between crust and mantle. It started in 1961 as a geologic counterpart to the space race, but was stopped for lack of funding in 1966. It was continued in the Deep Sea Drilling programme, which is now the Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme. The deepest borehole in the ocean reached a depth of 3056 metres below the sea floor in May 2014.   ??????????????????????????????? Tower of the Kola Superdeep Borehole in September 2007. Photo by Andre Belozeroff, source   4 58976825 Kola Superdeep Borehole in summer 2008. Photo © andrusha084, source   Until 2008 the Kola Superdeep Borehole near the Russian mining town Zapolyarny on the Kola Peninsula was the deepest borehole in the world. No borehole is as legendary as the Kola Superdeep, which really was a telescope probing the Earth. It was drilled since the 1970s in the framework of the former Soviet Union’s programme ‘Investigation of the Continental Crust by Means of Deep Drilling’. The deepest of its boreholes, the SG-3, reached a final depth of 12,262 metres in 1989 (sometimes 12,261 is given as the correct depth. Note that the current record is just marginally deeper.)   There are not many superdeep boreholes in the continental crust that are drilled for science. Apparently the only superdeep one accessible at the moment is the KTB superdeep borehole in Windeseschenbach in northern Bavaria, Germany. It was drilled to a depth of 9101 metres between 1990 and 1994 by the German Continental Deep Drilling Program, reaching depths with temperatures of more than 260 degrees Celsius.   The Kola Superdeep is drilled at a spot that is called Vilgiskoddeoayvinyarvi, or ‘Wolf Lake on the Mountains’. The Sami are the indigenous inhabitants of this subarctic area in Russia, just across the border with Norway. Dotted with open iron ore and nickel mines and watched over by enormous smelters in the mining towns Zapolyarny and Nickel, it is a bleak, heavily polluted landscape. Even now foreign tourists are forbidden from leaving the main roads – though most likely nobody will stop you from doing so.   13 Schermafbeelding 2014-08-22 om 19.32.10 Screenshot of the exact location of the Kola Superdeep on the satellite image of Google.   When the plans for the Kola Superdeep were formulated at the end of the 1960s, Cold War competition drove geological research. When drilling near Zapolyarny began in 1970, in honour of the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s birth, the Russians were eager to smash the record for the deepest borehole. In 1979 the world record for drilling depth – 9583 metres, held since 1974 by the Bertha Rogers hole in Washita County, Oklahoma – was broken by the Kola Superdeep. In 1983, the drill passed 12,000 metres, but after reaching 12,066 metres on 27 September 1984, the drill broke down. Repairing the damage took ages, as new equipment had to be built. Drilling was eventually resumed from a depth of 7 kilometres, but slow progress over subsequent years can also be attributed to the difficulties they encountered drilling at such great depth.   5 303384953_99e1333278_o_kleiner Rock from a depth of 12,260 metres. Samples from the SG3. Photo: superdeep.pechenga.ru   6 2410183702_bb734c0e20_o The 12-kilometre mark has been reached. The plan was to continue until a depth of 15 kilometres. Photo: superdeep.pechenga.ru, source   7 2410183880_f582674f77_o Retrieving the samples from the borehole. Photo: superdeep.pechenga.ru, source   8 2410184050_b72a1b136c_o Archive of the rock samples from the Kola Superdeep in Zapolyarny, 2005. Photo: superdeep.pechenga.ru, source   9 2410184392_46078c6959_o The Kola Superdeep in better times, early 1970s. Photo: superdeep.pechenga.ru, source   In 1989 the SG-3 borehole with a diameter of 92 centimetres at the top and 21.5 centimetres at the bottom, reached a final depth of 12,262 metres. A depth of 15 kilometres had been set as the target, with estimations that they would reach 13,500 metres by the end of 1990, and 15 kilometres in 1993. But they encountered serious difficulties: temperatures in this location and at this depth were as high as 180 degrees Celsius instead of the expected 100. Meanwhile the Soviet Union was dissolved, and funding for fundamental scientific research shrank. Drilling deeper was finally deemed unfeasible and was stopped in 1992.   The reason geologists chose Kola as the location for superdeep drilling is that the Fennoscandian Shield consists of very old rock, in some places the Precambrian crystalline igneous rock is exposed on the surface. Drilling deeper reaches even older rock, and enables us to see even further back into the history of the Earth. The Kola borehole encountered 2.7 billion-year-old rocks at 12 kilometres depth. The primary scientific goal of the Kola Superdeep was fundamental geological research. The secondary goal was the prediction of natural disasters based on analysing bore cores. The Soviet Union proposed creating a network of superdeep boreholes, distributed throughout the Soviet Union: Globus. It would monitor global tectonic activity to predict earthquakes and other natural disasters. Boreholes were planned, and sometimes started, for example, in Komi, in western and eastern Siberia, near the Caspian Sea, in the Dnepr-Don region, the Caucasus and Turkmenistan. These are all mineral-rich areas, and gathering geological data that aids in identifying new oil fields and mineral deposits certainly played a role in choosing these locations.   Geologically one of the more important findings to emerge from the Kola Superdeep was that gneiss was found at 7 kilometres depth. Gneiss is metamorphic rock that forms under high temperatures and pressure. At this depth the geological models assumed a transition from granite to basalt because of a discontinuity in seismic waves. The change in seismic velocities, however, turned out to be caused by the metamorphic transition in the granite rock. Even more surprising was that rock at that depth had been thoroughly fractured and was saturated with water. This could imply that water was part of the chemical composition of the rock minerals themselves and had been forced out of the crystals and prevented from rising by an overlying cap of impermeable rock. Other finds were that the rock at a depth of 3 kilometres was similar to rocks from the moon, and at 10 kilometres, in 2.5 billion-year-old rock, fossils of organisms were found, contradicting the scientific ideas of the day.   24 ZZ_deepdrill2 Chart of the Kola Superdeep Borehole. Source   From 1994 the director of the Kola Superdeep, Dr Huberman, continued research at onsite laboratories with significantly reduced funding. But the new governments were less and less interested in the Kola Superdeep. The plan to set up a network of superdeep boreholes was long forgotten, and the willingness to finance fundamental geological research faded away. International funding could not save the Kola Superdeep. After years of setbacks, the site shut down in 2008 – the laboratories were abandoned, the equipment and metal scrapped. For a few years there was still a small office in Zapolyarny, but even that has disappeared. The drilling tower has collapsed. What remains is a ruin.   19 z_58977074 The end of a legend, July 2009. Photo © andrusha084, source   20 z_58977163 Obliteration of history, July 2009. Photo © andrusha084, source   21 z_98103043_kleiner Kola Superdeep Borehole in August 2013. Photo ©  Andrej Evsegneev, source   22 z_98103060_kleiner ‘History should be conserved’, Kola Superdeep in August 2013. Photo © Andrej Evsegneev, source   What also remains is an urban legend, the ‘Well to Hell’ hoax. It originated with a Norwegian teacher who wanted to check the gullibility of his Christian American friends. To his surprise the story spread via the Christian fundamentalist media to the tabloids. According to this tale the drilling at the Kola Superdeep had to stop when they hit a hollow space and measured extremely high temperatures. A microphone was lowered into the borehole, and picked up horrifying screams. They had drilled all the way to hell. The story can be found in various versions and guises all over the Internet. It includes dubious ‘documentaries’ on Youtube, and remixes of the sounds of hell – which are actually based on a sound recording made for fun by geologists at the Kola Superdeep. The hoax is usually the hook for documentaries and magazine articles on the Kola Superdeep – illustrated with pictures of the ruins.   The ‘Well to Hell’ hoax is easily recognisable as a scam. Rather more disturbing are pseudo-scientific articles that begin by summarising reliable geological knowledge, go on to refer to the surprising geological findings of the Kola Superdeep and the difficulties of drilling further than 12 kilometres, and then use these as a rhetorical devices to convince the reader of the impotence of science and the truth of the Bible (see Emil Silvestru, ‘Water inside Fire’, Journal of Creation, vol. 22 no. 1, 2008).   The last research team to work at the Kola Superdeep did lower sound recording devices into the borehole. But what they recorded at 3 kilometres depth (the deepest borehole of 12 kilometres was long since inaccessible) were not the sounds of hell. They did detect variances in sound levels that were quite mysterious at first. After several recordings it was evident that the variances were very regular. They posed several hypotheses, ruled out the possibility that the device might have been recording itself, and after a while had to conclude that there was only one possibility left: at 3 kilometres deep they were picking up vibrations of activity at open mines around Zapolyarny. The variances in sound levels coincided exactly with the workshifts. Anthropocene sound pollution travels 3 kilometres deep (see A. S. Belyakov (e.a.) ‘New Results of Monitoring Acoustic Noise in the Kola Superdeep Borehole’ Doklady Earth Sciences, January–February 2007, vol. 412, no. 1, pp. 97–100, http://www.springerlink.com/index/WP261XR0776NJ944.pdf)   How important were the findings from the Kola Superdeep? Responding to a journalist who wanted to know the most important outcome of the Kola Superdeep project, geologist Vladimir Belousov is reported to have exclaimed: ‘Lord! Importantly it showed that we do not know anything about the continental crust’ (quoted in www.vokrugsveta.ru/vs/article/417/. Tragically, almost none of the research results from the Kola Superdeep left the Soviet Union. The location was secret, the area remote and restricted. However, in 1984 geologists from around the world who were invited to the 27th Geological Congress in Moscow were flown to Murmansk and travelled by bus to the Kola Superdeep. A booklet was published in Russian and English to introduce and promote the research (see item 1. under ‘Delving Deeper’). It was only after the break-up of the Soviet Union that scientific articles started appearing outside Russia. In the 1990s two books with scientific papers were translated from Russian to English and published by Springer Verlag (see item 7 under ‘Delving Deeper’). They were difficult reading even by scientific standards.   The Kola Superdeep has captured the imagination more than any other borehole or geological research. Since it is a ruin, it lives on as a legend. The site could have been a museum and tourist destination, paying homage to fundamental scientific inquiry – even without glorifying the research. It could have been monument to the human yearning to know what the Earth is made of. Here’s a borehole, 12 kilometres deep. We used it, not to extract oil to fuel our cars, but to know what is there. One wonders how much this hole – now closed by a rusty metal cap – would be worth if it was a piece of land art by Walter de Maria. On the other hand, that it is a ruin, abandoned and crumbling, presents a powerfully poetic image that invites reflection on the value of scientific research. We might know more about what is inside the Earth through seismic measurements, but we have never been able to see further into the Earth than we did with the Kola Superdeep.   16 (2012) Kola Superdeep Borehole in 2012. Author: Bigest, source   18 _2012_kleiner The secured borehole in 2012. Author: Rakot13, source    

A visit to Yuri Smirnov, geologist at the Kola Superdeep

  Arie Altena   In 2012 I visited the border region between Norway and Russia for the first time, with Hilde Methi, Lucas van der Velden and Annette Wolfsberger. Roman Khorolisov, born and bred in Nikel, was our guide on the Russian side. Somehow I had found out that one of the deepest boreholes was located in the hills between Zapolyarny and Nikel: the Kola Superdeep. Though Roman knew about it, it had not captured his imagination as much as much as it had ours. We visited the local museum in Nikel, which not only has a large exhibition dedicated to the Second World War (it still brings many German war tourists to the region), but also a room dedicated to the Kola Superdeep, with photos, rock samples, and geological maps. Roman only had a rough idea of where the Superdeep was located. On our way to Zapolyarny we took an unpaved side road near a mysterious antenna, and continued driving along it for several kilometres, thinking we were on the right road. The weather deteriorated and the thickening snow halted our progress. In the distance we could see a tower, but it was one of the mines and not the Kola Superdeep. We were still fairly close to the site, which was probably just a kilometre and a half away on the other side of the hill, but we couldn’t find it. To make up for not finding the Kola Superdeep we visited an abandoned open mine.   10 HPIM2703 (1) May 2012. We thought we were on the right road to the Kola Superdeep. The weather made it impossible to continue by car. The Kola Superdeep was just a kilometre and a half away on the other side of the hills but we couldn’t find it. Photo: Arie Altena   In 2013 we returned to Zapolyarny, and visited Yuri Smirnov. Smirnov was the head of geological research on the Kola Superdeep team. He had analysed the extracted rock from bore cores. Newspaper articles from the 1980s and 1990s usually introduced him as the scientist who hands a journalist a rock exclaiming enthusiastically: ‘This comes from 12 kilometres deep, imagine!’ Since the former director of the Kola Superdeep, Dr Huberman, died a few years ago, Smirnov is the person to interview about the Kola Superdeep.   23 z_p0000006 Geologist Yuri Smirnov with the archive of rocks. Photo: superdeep.pechenga.ru, source   Smirnov greeted us eagerly, extremely happy that people had finally come to enquire about this work. Over the past few years, he said, no one had come to find out about the Kola Superdeep, nobody seemed to care anymore. He welcomed us into his small flat in Zapolyarny. Geological maps covered the walls, the bookshelves overflowed with rocks and geological papers. They also held his collection of mugs, various paraphernalia, and a portrait of Stalin.   25 ZZ_P1090008_kleiner Chart of the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Yuri Smirnov’s flat, 2013. Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   26 ZZ_P1090015_kleiner Yuri Smirnov shows his photographs, 2013. Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   27 ZZ_P1090017_kleiner Yuri Smirnov shows the photo taken when the 11-kilometre mark was reached. Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   28 ZZ_P1090025_kleiner Yuri Smirnov in front of his shelves with rocks. Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   29 ZZ_P1090071_kleiner A gift made in 1984 with rock samples from the Kola Superdeep. Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   An old man, living alone with his many memories, Smirnov was actually just as eager to talk about his World War II experiences as about the Kola Superdeep. As a 13-year-old boy he ran away from home to fight in the north in the Second World War. Smirnov is a joyful and colourful character. He showed his photographs, recited his poetry – including poems about the Kola Superdeep – talked about his collection of mugs, while Roman Khorolisov interjected with our questions we had prepared. Questions that – in retrospect – he’d probably already answered many times.   Smirnov came to the Kola Superdeep in September 1970, just after the drilling had started, on 24 May. He was born in Mirhorod in Ukraine and went to university in Chisinau, now Moldavia. In Kola he was appointed Deputy Chief Geologist, and as such was the head of the laboratory of geological and geophysical research. Proudly he told us that he was awarded a medal honouring Vladimir Lenin for his work. We asked him why they chose a spot near Zapolyarny for the deep drilling programme.   ‘Because here a borehole would pass through the most ancient layers of rock. That is why they chose the Baltic shield, and not a location in Ukraine or elsewhere. This is where the surface is closest to the mantle, and deep drilling would go through different layers of the most ancient rock.’   ‘Are there similar locations elsewhere?’   ‘A similar location exists in Canada. But the location in Kola was also chosen because the geological research would simultaneously reveal the structure of the Pechenga copper and nickel fields. That was important, as the existing mines were beginning to be exhausted.’ He continued to explain the history of mining in the area: ‘Nickel exploitation around Nikel was opened up through research by Finnish geologists, and was first developed by a Canadian company. It was only after the Nazis were expelled from Russia that the territory became part of the Russian Pechenga region; from 1922 till 1944 it was Finnish. At that time geologists were drilling for minerals as well, but they did not find new sources. This can happen. When we started drilling the Kola Superdeep, we crossed two ore-bearing strata in less than a year. I documented those layers.’   ‘Do you consider reaching the depth of more than 12 kilometres the main achievement of the Kola Superdeep?’   ‘Of course. It was such a difficult engineering problem. The main goal of the project however was to study the structure of the crust. It was believed that there were three layers – sedimentary, granite and basalt – that all lie on top of the mantle. This was just a hypothesis at the time, based on seismic data. What we found was that at a depth where we expected a transition of granite to basalt, there was no such transition. That was a very important discovery. A second aim of the project was to predict any kind of environmental or natural disaster. So the main goals were about structure and foresight.’   ‘Wasn’t there a plan to set up a network of boreholes throughout the Soviet Union, or even the entire Earth?’   ‘Yes, this was project Globus. We offered it to the world. Geologists from all over the world came to visit us when Moscow hosted the 27th Geological Congress. They came because the members of the Congress set one condition: it could only take place if they visited Kola. The idea behind Globus was also to research the structure of the continental crust, of course.’   After leaving the Kola Superdeep Borehole, Smirnov continued to work in the Altai Mountains, in Karelia, and in Apatity on the Kola Peninsula. He is retired now. That the site of the Kola Superdeep is a ruin fills him with sadness. He deplores the lack of money for fundamental research as tragic, especially because it would not have been that expensive to continue researching at the Kola Superdeep, had it been kept in working condition. There were two unique sets of drills, made in Yekaterinenburg – then Sverdlovsk – that according to him could have penetrated to a depth of 15 kilometres. ‘Alas’, he said, ‘there is no interest, all the resources have shifted to drilling for oil and gas in the Barents Sea – where they use the knowledge of drilling gained at the Kola Superdeep. This is where they put the money.’ On the question of we should continue explorations like the one undertaken at the Kole Superdeep he replied with a resounding ‘Yes’.   14 Smirnow62_AW_kleiner Yuri Smirnov shows his medals at the end of our visit in June 2013. (In the background is his brother, a former professional wrestler, who was visiting for the first time in many years; Yuri Smirnov's collection of mugs is to the right). Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   15 Smirnow67_AW_kleiner Yuri Smirnov with a mug depicting the devil below the Kola Superdeep. Sitting next to him is his brother. Photo Annette Wolfsberger   30 ZZ_P1090072 One of Yuri Smirnov’s mugs, depicting an angel in the sky above the Kola Superdeep and a devil below. Photo: Annette Wolfsberger   Above his couch hangs a painting showing the Kola Superdeep site, the borehole, with the devil at the bottom of the borehole. Smirnov commissioned it. In his collection of coffee mugs there is one with a similar picture. He finds its absurd that people actually believe in a hell with a devil. He believes in science, in the possibility of finding out more, and the potential of fundamental research to enrich our understanding of the Earth. As a poet Smirnov probably understands the power of images and how an image sticks in the human mind. The bogus story of ‘drilling to hell’ has stuck in people’s memories, and along with its record-breaking depth, has helped to make the Kola Superdeep a legend in media-saturated minds, when it really should be because of the geological findings.    

Delving deeper / References and further reading

  The Kola Super-deep Borehole (guide) The English guide to the Kola Superdeep Borehole, published by the USSR Ministry of Geology for the 1984 International Geology Congress in Moscow. The booklet can be found in some university libraries. Yuri Smirnov showed it to us during our 2013 visit. Annette Wolfsberger photographed all the pages.   History of the Kola Superdeep superdeep.pechenga.ru ‘Official’ site of the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russian, with Russian newspaper and magazine articles about the Kola Superdeep and many historical photos.   Russian television documentary (2012) on the Kola Superdeep You can find many clips about the Kola Superdeep on Youtube. Most of them are rather short, and don’t provide any information beyond what can be learned from Wikipedia. The worst ones sensationalise the bogus ‘Well to Hell’ story, or claim that finding water at a depth of 12 kilometres proves the Bible is true. This Russian documentary made for public television is entitled Kola Superdeep, Road to Hell, but it is informative and shows the current state of the site. Yuri Smirnov appears in it.   English and Russian entries on Kola Superdeep on Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kola_Superdeep_Borehole The English and Russian Wikipedia pages on the Kola Superdeep provide basic information. Check the ‘references’ and ‘further reading’ sections for some of the scientific articles on geological and geophysical findings at the Kola Superdeep.   Panoramio photos of Kola Superdeep www.panoramio.com/map/ Google’s geolocation-oriented photo-sharing website Panoramio has recent photos of the Kola Superdeep and is a good tool to explore the area. The Kola Superdeep ruin is clearly visible in the satellite images on Google Maps.   Hoppla, wit haben die Hölle angebohrt www.spiegel.de/einestages/russischer-tiefendrill-hoppla-wir-haben-die-hoelle-angebohrt-a-947191.html Article (in German) published in Der Spiegel with a fine selection of photographs, the basic history of the Kola Superdeep, and an explanation of the ‘Sounds from Hell’ hoax.   Collections of scientific articles Fuchs, K.; Kozlovsky, E.A., Krivtsov, A.I., and Zoback, M.D. (1990). Super-Deep Continental Drilling and Deep Geophysical Sounding. Berlin: Springer Verlag. p. 436. ISBN 978-0-387-51609-7. Kozlovsky, Ye.A (1987). The Superdeep Well of the Kola Peninsula. Berlin: Springer Verlag. p. 558. ISBN 978-3-540-16416-6. Two English books (translated from Russian) with scientific articles on the findings of the Kola Superdeep. You can find them in a university library, or as a PDF in the back alleys of the Internet.   More scientific articles http://scholar.google.com/scholar?as_vis=1 Google Scholar gives ‘about 1380’ hits for the search term ‘Kola Superdeep Borehole’. So far in 2014 the Kola Superdeep has been referenced in 49 scientific articles.   International Continental Scientific Drilling Program www.icdp-online.org/home/ Overview of continental scientific drilling projects, platform of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences.   Lotte Geeven: The Sound of the Earth www.geeven.nl/post/67567627667 In 2013 Dutch multimedia artist Lotte Geeven made sound recordings in the deepest accessible borehole, the 9101 metre deep KTB Superdeep Borehole in Windischeschenbach (Germany). Her work The Sound of the Earth uses these sounds from the Earth’s interior.   Notes on the Underground mitpress.mit.edu/books/notes-underground Rosalind Williams’ book Notes on the Underground. An Essay on Technology, Society and the Imagination, (2008, Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press), does not mention the Kola Superdeep, but it presents a fascinating overview of the ‘subterranean imagination’.   On an Ungrounded Earth punctumbooks.com/titles/ungrounded-earth/ Probably this is the only philosophy book to at least mention the Kola Superdeep. Woodard attempts to formulate a new geophilosophy.   MF3 Part of this research was generously funded by the Mondriaan Foundation in 2013. Many thanks to Roman Khoroshilov  and Pavel Borisov.

A Day of Noise



During Dutch Design Week, on Saturday 25 October, Sonic Acts presents A Day of Noise in Temporary Art Centre (TAC) in Eindhoven. The programme dives into noise in design, daily life and music, and proposes noise as a methodology. Even though noise is a continuous and mostly unwanted aspect of the design process, most artists and designers are unaware of its potential and the influence it has on their decision-making. How can we be more aware of this potential in a world where aspects of time, constant transformation, unpredictability and uncertainty are becoming more and more important? A Day of Noise explores this question through a workshop, a programme of lectures, and a live concert. It is organised in cooperation with ArtEZ Institute of the Arts.   RSVP: facebook event   Workshop by Gijs Gieskes In the workshop with Dutch electronic musician and designer Gijs Gieskes, participants will be taught the fundamentals of circuit bending and embrace a DIY attitude towards technology. Participants will learn how to add an oscillator to a low voltage device like an old CD-player, cheap keyboard, torch or computer mouse, to transform it into an apparatus that keeps repeating the same activity.   Saturday 25 October 2014 Time: 10.00–16.00 Location: TAC Lecture Hall Temporary Art Centre (TAC), Vonderweg 1, 5611 BK Eindhoven Fee: € 20,- / € 15,- for students Join: Send a short biography and motivation to masterclass[at]sonicacts[.]com. Deadline for applications is Sunday 19 October.   Keynote lecture by Hillel Schwartz & presentation by Remco van Bladel Graphic designer Remco van Bladel’s presentation will draw analogies between contemporary graphic design and musical theories of the 20th century avant-garde. Going from the I Ching and mesostic to phase shifting, feedback, dissonance, and glitch, he touches on the question: ‘How can one define a (typo)graphic methodology based on the works of for instance John Cage, Steve Reich, John Zorn, Oval or perhaps even Merzbow?’   In his keynote lecture, cultural historian Hillel Schwartz will first talk about noise as a socio-acoustic phenomenon: how noise is conditioned historically, politically, and aesthetically by relationships between people and by convergences in the trajectories of technology, art, and culture. He will then talk about noise and time: how noise is experienced through time, and how noise affects our experience of time, which in turns affects our impression of the differences between the private and public spheres. The lecture is followed by a Q&A with Hillel Schwartz, moderated by Sonic Acts’ Arie Altena.   Saturday 25 October 2014 Time: 17.00–18.45 Location: TAC Lecture Hall Temporary Art Centre (TAC), Vonderweg 1, 5611 BK Eindhoven Entrance: €5,- / €2,50 students Tickets: regular / students   Live performances by Gijs Gieskes and André Avelãs The evening ends with live performances by noise masters Gijs Gieskes and André Avelãs, and dj Team of Orphax. Gijs Gieskes plays his own electronic devices, André Avelãs performs his work Oscillators on Band-saws, using old band-saws from the family sawmill to create low frequencies and resonating noise.   Saturday 25 October 2014 Open: 20.00 Location: TAC Tuinzaal Temporary Art Centre (TAC), Vonderweg 1, 5611 BK Eindhoven Entrance: €5,- / €2,50 students Tickets: regular / students   A Day of Noise is organised in cooperation with ArtEZ Institute of the Arts and is part of Uncertainty Studios, a week-long programme conducted by the Product and Interaction Design departments of ArtEZ Institute of the Arts, Arnhem. Uncertainty Studios showcases an exhibition by young and established product and interaction designers, a project with third-year students, and a series of lectures by international speakers on lightness, noise, fiction and psychology.   Biographies   André Avelãs (PT) is a sound artist who lives and works in Amsterdam. His works (performances, sculpture, installations, and recordings) explore the ways in which sound is produced, and how sound creates meaning in relation to space and the conditions under which it is heard. Central to his practice is a focus on sound not as a carrier of content but as a malleable material that shifts and changes in relation to the methods and machines through which it is generated, reproduced and experienced.   Remco van Bladel (NL) is a graphic designer, musician and art book publisher based in Amsterdam. He is the co-founder of Onomatopee and the online platform WdW Review. His studio focuses on editorial book design, (online) publishing projects, curatorial projects, institutional identities, interactive applications and websites. He is a typography and graphic design tutor at Art and Design, ArtEZ Institute of the Arts.   Gijs Gieskes (NL) is an electronic musician and industrial designer who builds and modifies his own electronic devices for audiovisual use. The devices are often sold as kits but can also be purchased pre-assembled.   Hillel Schwartz (US) is currently the Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. As a cultural historian he is the author of the impressive Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond (Zone, 2011). As a medical case manager, he has published Long Days Last Days: A Down-to_earth Guide for those at the Bedside (2013). As a poet and translator, he has published, together with Sunny Jung, a translation of the work of the poet Kim Nam-jo, one of Korea's leading poets: Rain Sky Wind Port (Codhill Press, 2014).