Christina Kubisch Essay About My Installations

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CHRISTINA KUBISCH

sound sculpture / musique concrete / sound installation / modern composition / abstractism / ambient music / acousmatic art / minimalism / avant-garde / electroacoustic / field recordings / sound art / experimental / noise / contemporary art / site specific / conceptual art / drone music


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Christina Kubisch belongs to the first generation of sound artists. Trained as a composer, she has artistically developed such techniques as magnetic induction to realize her installations. Since 1986 she has added light as an artistic element to her work with sound. 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. Christina Kubisch was born in Bremen. She studied music, painting and electronics. Performances and concerts until 1980, subsequently sound installations, sound sculptures and work with ultraviolet light. Numerous grants and awards, such as Award of the German Industrial Association (BDI), composition grant of the city of Berlin, Carl Djerassi Honorary Fellowship, IASPIS Stockholm. Since 1974 solo exhibitions in Europe, USA, Australia, Japan and South America. Participation in international festivals and group exhibitions such as : Pro Musica Nova, Bremen 1976 /1980, F�r Augen und Ohren, Berlin 1980, Biennale of Venice, 1980 / 1982, Gaudeamus Music Festival 1984, documenta 8, Kassel 1987, Ars Electronica, Linz 1987, Steirischer Herbst, Graz 1987, Biennale of Sydney 1990, Donaueschinger Musiktage, 1993 /1997, Prison Sentences, Philadelphia 1995, Sonambiente, Berlin 1996, in medias res, Istanbul 1997, festival d'art sonor, Barcelona 1999, Sonic Boom, London 2000, Visual Sound, Pittsburgh 2001, Singuhr-H�rgalerie, berlin 2002. Christina Kubisch is a professor of sculpture and audio/visual arts at the Academy of Fine Arts, Saarbr�cken, since 1994 and a member of the Akademie der K�nste Berlin since 1987.She lives in Berlin. Christina Kubisch belongs to the first generation of sound artists. Trained as a composer, she has artistically developed such techniques as the magnetic induction to realize her sound installations. Since 1986 the artist has added light as an artistic element to her work with sound. Christina Kubisch's 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 new relationship between material and form in music on the other.



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Trained as a visual artist, musician, and composer, Christina Kubisch studied painting, flute, and piano before turning to electronic music in the mid-1970s. As an artist working predominantly with sound, she has created a unique body of performances, installations, and sculptures based on electromagnetic fields, a line of inquiry that stems from a deep urge to listen to an invisible world, here the world of electrical conduits and systems. After stumbling upon the interference of electromagnetic fields by chance in 1978, she began her most accomplished work using this phenomenon in 2004, when she produced the first in an ongoing series titled Electrical Walks. Using specially designed headphones that convert electromagnetic signals from the environment into sound, participants take a walk follow a map of “hot spots” such as ATM machines, security systems, parking stations, and electronic displays. Kubisch explains: “Every current in an electrical conductor—for example, a wire or a cable—generates an electromagnetic field. These currents can be ‘musical,’ like the signals running through loudspeaker cables; or they can come from electrical activity in the infrastructures of buildings or cities. The magnetic component of these fields is picked up by the sensor coils in the headphones. And, after amplification, these signals are made audible by the little speaker systems in the headphones.”2

Commissioned to produce a San Francisco walk for this exhibition—the artist’s sixty-fifth work in the Electrical Walks series—Kubisch selected and sequenced signals in the area around the museum that are particularly strong and sonically interesting. Each walk and each site-specific investigation adds to the artist’s typology of urban sounds. She calls the series an artistic work that is “social research” at the same time. In San Francisco, the walk covers the typical downtown scenery of commerce and new architecture, as well as overlooked and hidden nooks and niches. Kubisch’s approach could be superficially associated with a scavenger hunt, but it is more appropriately described as an “auditory dérive,”3 recalling the situationist practice of wandering the fabric of a city. John Cage’s legacy of eliminating the difference between noise and music is equally relevant: one encounters on these walks moments of noise as much as sequences that evoke minimalist or techno music.

For the artist, the magic of listening to what one cannot see can evoke a strong emotional response. She recounts the following experience, reminiscent of the nineteenth-century fascination with invisible presences and voices: “I put on my headphones during a very strong thunderstorm. There was no electricity, because all the power had gone out. But, when I recorded, I got the sounds of natural electricity, which was wonderful. The recording is so strange: very low, but very clear. At two points, you hear voices. You can’t understand the words, but you can tell that they are voices. I knew that electricity could transport voices, but I had never heard it before.It’s quite breathtaking when you hear things like that. This is nature, too—electrical nature!”

— Rudolf Frieling


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