Echolocation: a site specific installation

schema_echolo_b.jpgEcholocation:: a site specific Installation 2008 by Arnaud Jacobs :: Commissioned by Singuhr Hörgallerie, Berlin :: Electronic devices, subwoofers, rotating speakers, laptop, mixer :: Großer Wasserspeicher, Berlin :: As part of Tuned City Festival, 23 may to 13 july 2008.

The installation is in a former water reservoir located in Prenzlauerberg. The reservoir is very large and the acoustic fingerprint is unique. The architectural properties are very simply laid out, it consists of five concentric passages in the form of rings. The space is very complex to grasp. This is mainly because of an utilitarian architecture, which is based on function (holding water in the early days) rather than anthropomorphic proportions. All these elements have an unusual impact on perception and is at first disorientating. Soundwise it has huge reverberation and echo. Sound travels in different and therefore unpredictable directions. Sounds become very diffused.
Our spatial awareness is dependant of only a fraction of a second of a sound reflected in our environment. This intuitive information is quite rudimentary when navigate our environment and we are mostly unaccustomed to use it consciously and or adequately. Some animals, however, use it as their main navigation system. They ‘see’ with their ears. The skill has been first discovered in the mid-eighteenth century. The term echolocation was introduced much later in the mid-twentieth century.

The idea for this installation is based on the concept that sound can be used for investigating acoustic and architectural properties. Sound can be also be used as a cue for loctation. In general sound will be applied as a tool for perception. For this installation I developped a device that is a kind of sound space investigator; the Echolocator.

The Echolocator incorporates a sound device, a laser tool and a communicating tracking device. It can emit short sounds that are optimal for echolocation. These sounds are based on sounds that animals use for echolocation. There will be in total a dozen of those devices. Each device will sound slightly different and will interact with each other.

With the Echolocator you are able to explore the acoustic and architectural properties of a given space with sound. This tool triggers our sonic perception and helps in understanding how sound and space correlates.

On Arnaud Jacobs:

Generally Jacobs sets out from a fascination for sound, in any form. This explains how he takes his raw material from reality: with a microphone and recorder he makes field recordings. With these fragments Jacobs composes on his computer. His sound works are the result of a research to the different aspects of concrete or daily- sounds and how to assimilate and tune this material to the context of a musical work. The sound hovers as some kind of an interaction between micro and macro, inside and outside, fieldwork and studio, reality and fictionalization.

Born in Wilrijk, Belgium, in 1968. Arnaud Jacobs lives and works in Brussels since 1995. He has studied architecture. After his studies at the Sint-Lucasinstituut it did not take long, however, before he chose music. Today he has released music under several aliases: MarkMancha (electronic music), missfit (assigned music for film and other media), tmrx (autonomous collages constructed from everyday sounds). From 2004 he has been working under the name Aernoudt Jacobs and concentrates on installations, performances, sound design and commissioned work for film, dance and theater.

In his installation work he investigates mostly correlations between sound, matter, space/location, perception and psychoacoustics. Since 2005 he is with – Benoit Deuxant, Anton Aeki, Johan Vandermaelen and Frederik De Wilde – a member of zoning. He has been performing in Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Mexico, New York, Norway. He has released two albums on critically acclaimed labels as Staalplaat (NL) and Selektion (D) and contributed on different compilations.

Perception is an important aspect in his sound work. Perceiving music, sound, harmonies is a physical, emotional and intellectual activity that is always linked to personal memories. The properties of a particular sound/music/… will change the values of perception for each individual and thus hearing a tune on the radio can have an as deep impact on perception as listening to a car passing by. This association is an ongoing preocupation that is visible in most of his work. With the aid of psychoacoustic theories, he explores how perception can be influenced and how to express sound physically, spatially and emotionally.08 (from

Jun 6, 2008
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  1. Arnaud Jacobs’ Echolacation « silent listening:

    […] June 7, 2008 by andreasbick In Berlin’s “Großer Wasserspeicher“, a huge, old water reservoir turned into a place for sound installations due to it’s long reverb and distinctive echos, Arnaud Jacobs placed several rotating and low frequency speakers to wash the labyrinthine walls with a subtle atmosphere of dripping-like sounds and interfering textures of electronic tones. However, the key feature of this sound installation is that the audience is equipped with a device Jacobs calls the echolocator emiting a set of tonal, hissing and clicking sounds, that are reflected within the numerous concentric rings of the water reservoir. The visitor is enabled to navigate through the dark passages with the help of acoustic localization and “play the room” with this little device. Most fascinating are the short clicks that are synchronized with the dominant echo time of the place, the echos overlay each other and dissociate from the sound source, the sound colour of the environment is perceived in its own properties. I liked the installation very much, and its worth combining the trip with another installation of Ulrich Eller in the neighboring small reservoir (Kleiner Wasserspeicher, talking drums). Wednesday to Sunday 14:00 to 20:00, untill 13. 7. Read more about Jacobs echolocation here. […]

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