Networked_Music_Review

Jacob Kirkegaard – Labyrinthitis

labyrinthitis.jpgJacob Kirkegaard – Labyrinthitis :: Touch # Tone 35 :: CD – 1 track – 38:10 :: Special wallet limited edition :: Commissioned by Medical Museion in Copenhagen, Summer 2007.

Jacob Kirkegaard has turned his ears inwards: His new work LABYRINTHITIS is an interactive sound piece that consists entirely of sounds generated in the artist’s auditory organs – and will cause audible responses in those of the audience. LABYRINTHITIS relies on a principle employed both in medical science and musical practice: When two frequencies at a certain ratio are played into the ear, additional vibrations in the inner ear will produce a third frequency. This frequency is generated by the ear itself: a so-called “distortion product otoacoustic emission” (DPOAE), also referred to in musicology as “Tartini tone”.

By arranging the tones from his ears in a composition and playing them to an audience, the artist evokes further distortion effects in the ears of his listeners. At first, each new tone can only be perceived “intersubjectively”: inside the head of each one in the audience. Kirkegaard artificially reproduces this tone and introduces it, “objectively”, into his composition. When combined with another distorting frequency, it will create another tone… until, step by step, a pattern of descending tonal structure emerges whose spiral form mirrors the composition of resonant spectra in the human cochlea.

(The effect in your ears will not appear when listening to the sound file)

Paradoxical as it may sound: we can listen to our own ears. The human hearing organ – still often perceived as a passive unidirectional medium – does not only receive sounds from the outside, it also generates its own sound from within itself. As a matter of fact, it can even be “played on”, just like an acoustic instrument.

This is Jacob Kirkegaard’s 3rd album for Touch, after ‘Eldfjall’ [Touch # T33.20, 2005] and ‘4 Rooms’ [Touch # Tone 26, 2006]

Jacob Kirkegaard is an artist with an interest in the scientific and aesthetic aspects of resonance, time and hearing. His performances, audio/visual installations and compositions deal with acoustic spaces and phenomena that usually remain inaccessible to sense perception. With the use of unorthodox recording tools such as accelerometers, hydrophones or home-built electromagnetic receivers, Kirkegaard manages to capture and explore “secret sounds” – distortions, interferences, vibrations, ambiences – from within a variety of environments: volcanic earth, a nuclear power plant, an empty room, a TV tower, crystals, ice… and the human inner ear itself.

A graduate of the Academy for Media Arts in Cologne, Germany, Kirkegaard has given workshops and lectures in academic institutions such as the Royal Academy of Architecture in Copenhagen and the Art Institute of Chicago. During the last ten years, he has been presenting exhibitions and touring festivals and conferences throughout the world. Among his numerous collaborators are JG Thirlwell, Ann Lislegaard, CM von Hausswolff, Philip Jeck and Lydia Lunch. He is a member of freq_out. You can find out more on his website and you can order this release from the TouchShop.


Oct 13, 2008
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Networked_Music_Review (NMR) is a research blog that focuses on emerging networked musical explorations.

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