Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Florian Hecker – Pentaphonic Dark Energy, Sadie Coles HQ

Posted in Reviews by matteopollini on November 27, 2008

In Pentaphonic Dark Energy, five white loudspeakers, each one connected to the gallery ceiling through a metallic arm, are positioned slightly above the visitor’s head. From this position, the acoustic devices emit a wide spectrum of quite disturbing sound frequencies, generating something that resembles a random and quite scary audio composition. From time to time however, this chaotic irrepressible jumble of sounds finds its own sonic match, filling for a short lapse of time the exhibition’s space with a powerful and homogenous sound – a “discordant accord”; when this happens, the relieve is immediate: the correct combination between the diversities has been found and the resultant is crystal clear and loud. Yet, it is only audible, is the triumph of the invisible on the visible.

In the past, Hecker’s has worked in collaboration with Russell Haswell on Iannis Xenakis’ Upic (Unit Polyagogique Informatique de CEMAMu), a device that permitted to transform hand drawing into sounds. These researches conveyed in ‘Upic Diffusion Session 14 (for Cerith Wyn Evans)’, a performance during which the sketches of Evan’s neon sculpture You’ll never guess it’s the pacific ocean again have been re-drawn with an electronic pen and translated via the Upic system into sounds. In Pentaphonic Dark Energy the process goes in the opposite direction: the sonic emissions intervene in the volume of space between the four white walls of the gallery, virtually drawing audio-coordinates to define it,   just for few seconds. The balance of the different forces is in fact destined to be broken, causing a momentary disorientation and shock.

Hecker’s artistic practice is well known for its strict relation with accurate researches on mathematic, science and acoustic; The relation between sound and maths has been a topic of interest since Pythagoras and his followers, committed to the application of the numbers’ rules to the concept of order; these pioneers of the scientific studies regarding sound and then music devoted their life to the study of numbers and ratios that could be used to combine two or more sounds in what they defined as ‘harmony’. To be precise, the ‘harmony’ or ‘order’ was a versatile concept applicable to the world, the ethic and eventually the cosmos. There is an archaic substrate of knowledge and a deep, complex research in ‘Pentaphonic Dark Energy’, which calls into question the spatial perception through the use of a wide spectrum of different frequencies of sounds.

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