Cloud (2011/2017) is a sound sculpture made on site using a several hundred meters of red electrical cable. It is a multi-channel composition that visitors listen to by wearing customized magnetic headphones to explore the hidden acoustic world of sonic cable structures. Each channel has a different composition of electromagnetic waves, and listeners can mix them in their own way: these devices, developed by the artist, contain magnetic coils that receive magnetic fields circulating in cable loops and make them audible. As visitors move around the installation, around this chaotic electrical wiring, which is literally a cloud hanging in the gallery, they trigger the sounds of cables and mix them into an unlimited number of new combinations.
Cloud is not simply a didactic visualization of the physical principle of induction. On the contrary, it takes this process as a point of departure. The work stimulates live musical compositions, as the artist’s description of the work explains: “The basic idea of these sound spaces is to provide the viewer/listener access to his own individual spaces of time and motion. The musical sequences can be experienced in ever-new variations through the listener’s motion. The visitor becomes a ‘mixer’ who can put his piece together individually and determine the time frame for himself. Every movement, even a slight turn of the head, results in different sequences of tones”.
Kubisch started her series Clouds in 2011, before the term became a buzzword for a type of data storage. Uncannily, however, her participatory audio sculptures also relate to these topics of storage and access, yet they do so in a theatrical way, turning visitors into active listeners who are constantly seeking to retrieve and mix new sonic impressions by bending down, lying on the floor, or simply turning their heads.
Christina Kubisch (1948) is a German composer, pioneer of sound art, performative artist, professor and flutist. Her work displays an artistic development which is often described as the “synthesis of arts”: the discovery of acoustic space and the dimension of time in the visual arts on the one hand, and a redefinition of relationships between material and form on the other. Her compositions are mostly electroacoustic, but she has written for ensembles as well.
Christina Kubisch studied painting, music and electronics. As an artist she gained recognition in the mid-1970s with her early works including concerts, performances and multimedia installations; her works during that time are, for example, a live multimedia performance Two and Two (1977) and a minimalist composition Tempo Liquido (1979). At the turn of the 1980s she began to use electromagnetic induction in her sound installations: her work Il Respiro del Mare (1981) began her sound engineering career, as with it she developed a system for an electromagnetic sound induction. Since then she has been constantly refining her practice of staging the effects of wireless electromagnetic transmissions. Since 1986 she has been adding light as an artistic element to her work with sound. During that time, she created the pieces On Air (1984), Iter Magneticum (1986) and Night Flight (1987). In 1990, she began creating her first works with solar energy. In 1994, she created an installation Sechs Spiegel which is one of her most famous pieces: the piece uses the architectural proportions of the German building Ludgwigskirche to determine the rates of repetitions and pauses in vibrating drinking glasses. In 1996, she began The Clocktower Project in which she reactivated a clocktower that had long been out of commission: she created and recorded sounds for the project by ringing, striking, hammering and brushing the bells of the clock with different objects. In 2003, she began with her Electrical Walks projects: the walks are a sort of guided tour through a city, where participants are given special headphones, designed by Kubisch, and directed to parts of the city that have interesting soundscapes. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with various musicians – including Annea Lockwood, resulting in the CD The Secret Life of the Inaudible in 2018.
Installation view: Klemen Ilovar