Ever since humanity gazed skyward, we have observed the universe through visual imaging techniques. In February 2016, however, LIGO Caltech & MIT made the groundbreaking announcement of the first-ever detection of gravitational waves —ripples in the fabric of spacetime— captured by the most sensitive machine ever to be built by humankind. These sonified waves reached Earth after travelling for 1.3 billion lightyears, where two massive black holes orbitted and merged, producing a collision so powerful that it shook up the very structure of ’empty space’. The lovingly dubbed ‘heartbeat of the universe’ marks the opening of an entirely new sensory field for astrophysics, as sound now enters the stage as new kind of cosmic signal. “Previously we could only ‘see’ the universe: now we’ll be able to ‘hear’ it”.
For the exhibition ‘Arrival of Time’, composers Rainer Kohlberger (Berlin) and William Basinski (Los Angeles) have created two special commissions, using exclusive recordings from LIGO’s interferometers. Having explored throughout his prolific oeuvre the temporal mysteries of nature with a special focus on extended processes of entropic decay, Basinski’s soundscapes have a haunting capacity to capture both the massive movements, and the vast emptiness of the cosmos.
In his piece On Time Out of Time, he undertakes to create “a bubble in eternity, and slow down or stop time”. Within Kohlberger’s ongoing preoccupation with the constant flux suffusing all materiality —from the quantum to the cosmic scale— the artist has created a new version of a piece from 2016 titled “not even nothing can be free of ghosts”, exploring the pulse and shifts in frequency from LIGO’s samples. In an algorithmically-engendered audio-visual installation, he presents an 8-channel aleatoric sound-piece with an immersive projection of stroboscopic images that opens the possibility of creating subjective connections between the eye and the ear.
Within the long tradition of the so-called ‘Music of the Spheres’ that was laid out by Pythagoras, and continued by Gustav Holst and many others, the compositions presented in this exhibition open new ground in exploring the future status of sound within the history of knowledge.
Kohlberger and Basinski will perform live during the opening on June 30th (19.00-21.30). Titles:William Basinski, On Time Out of Time (2017) | Rainer Kohlberger, not even nothing can be free of ghosts (2016; 2017)
Berliner Festspiele/Immersion – Arrival of Time | Exhibition: 01-31 July 2017
Opening: Friday, 30 June 2017 with Rainer Kohlberger (Berlin) and William Basinski (Los Angeles) LIVE
Martin-Gropius-Bau | Niederkirchnerstr. 7 | 10963 Berlin/Kreuzberg