The Set of Projects SONIC LINES N’ ROOMS


SONIC LINES N' ROOMS is a project series of spatial sound installations by the couple of artists <sabine schäfer // joachim krebs>. The first project referring to this set was commissioned by the SüdwestRundfunk (SWR) in 1999 for the international festival of contemporary music “Donaueschinger Musiktage”. Many of the concepts and contents used in this text are based on the jointly developed terminology of the two artists' projects. The following explanations are also to be understood as comments for the use of the Consistency-plan Maps as indicated. They provide a picture of how the SpaceSoundBody of this installation project is structured and what are the intended possibilities for development in terms of sound-movement aesthetics Map #1. The 32 channel spatial sound composition forms the second main point of the commentaries Map #2.


On the Consistency-plan Map # 1 - the traversable, four-membered SpaceSoundBody


The composition of the SpaceSoundBody is inspired by the architectonic character of the performance space: the vaulted cellar of the Fürstlich Fürstenbergisch Hofbibliothek (the court library). This vaulted cellar is structured in four room of the same size. Two rooms each are interconnected with passages. Both pairs of rooms are separated by a corridor. This ground plan results in a dually symmetrical arrangement (see ground plan of the Consistency-plan Map #1).

Since the two artists have already been working for three years on various collaborative sets of projects and forms of installation or, to be more precise, installation-types, the development according to dually symmetrical thinking of a four-membered Installation-Body which combines two different forms of installation was immediately apparent:


  • from the project series SonicLines, which consists of SpaceSoundObjects which may be walked around, two SpaceSoundObjects were created with linear constructions of loudspeakers;
  • from the project series SonicRooms, which consists of traversable SpaceSound installations, two configurations were created where loudspeakers are placed close to and along the wall and the visitor imagines him/herself in the interior of a sound body, completely surrounded by sound.

On the Consistency-plan Map #1 the arrangement of rooms can be seen, numbered from 1 to 4, beginning lower left. The loudspeakers are configured in groups of eight respectively in each room; on the map they are numbered according to their arrangement in each sector (room 1: loudspeakers 1-8, room 2; loudspeakers 9-16 etc.).


Each of the four rooms has specific patterns of movement.


Both SpaceSoundObjects of rooms 1 and 2 are characterised by back-and-forth movements of sounds on the object lines. In room 1 these are primarily a dual* multilinearly reflected back-and-forth counter-movement and its diverse variations. Room 2 on the other hand has, as sound movement intrinsic to the object, the dual multidimensionally directed back-and-forth and up-and-down movement with variations. Room 3, as an example of a traversable SpaceSoundBody, represents amongst other things the dual rectangular zigzag movement (up and down) on two levels, while in room 4 real sound movement in space can only establish itself on a higher level as elliptical circular-movement.


In experiencing SpaceSound, it is significant that about 80% of sound materials can be heard simultaneously in all rooms; as a result, the specific sound-space which the real movement produces is perceptible. This impression is intensified still further due to the different respective arrangements of the loudspeakers from which arise typical real sound movements. An acoustic specification of the single rooms in relation to each other becomes possible.

On the Consistency-plan Map #2 - the 32 channel SpaceSoundComposition


There are, so to speak, two further factors which shape the aesthetic foundations for the formation of SpaceSoundComposition. On the one hand, the sound material which is used is generated exclusively from the sphere of natural, acoustic phenomena; certain consequences for the sound aesthetic of the piece follow from this. On the other hand, the principle of dual symmetry inspired both the overall formation of the SpaceSoundComposition as a dually arranged, four-part structure as well as the succession in pairs of the sound material. The Consistency-plan Map #2 completes the following explanations showing a complex network of different subjects which offers one the possibility for discursive associations in many various kinds. Below are more precise details regarding the sound material used in SONIC LINES N' ROOMS. In this context more general details will also be mentioned about the means of production and sound aesthetic approaches.


The only raw sound material in Sonic Lines n' Rooms is amorphous, animal-natural-calls and sounds as well as heterogeneous everyday noises from the human milieu and environment. However, there are no vocal sounds directly from humans nor are there sound materials produced synthetically in some manner or other, both of these were completely excluded in this electroacoustic SpaceSoundComposition.


An initial, important stage in the composition was the intensive study of each single found and selected noise and sound. The most important question at this stage was: which naturally existing and which potential artificial constancy is held by each single sound in the initially inaudible, molecular interior of the microstructure. Therefore, the noises and sounds are recorded with the instrumentation of the digital sampler. Delving into the smallest molecular region, the sampler is able to put at the disposal of the sound artist single particles of the inner structure of this noise-sound material for artistic development.


With these "abstract machines" - to quote a concept of the French philosophers Deleuze/Guattari - we, so to speak, carried out what we called an "EndoSonoScopy" of the single sound material, in order to take single sound tests (so-called samples or fragment-patterns) from the organic sound webs.


At the same time it must be emphasised that, for example, the frequency transpositions of a fragment-pattern also equally affects a change in its sound dimensions, which is naturally always relative, at all other levels simultaneously. Not only the parameter of pitch changes, but also rhythm and timbre display a quasi mutated form. A downwards transposition stretches the vibrations and works like an audio-microscope under which the initially inaudible inner structures of the sounds begin to disclose their organic, vegetative sound symbiosis.
Whilst opening themselves up, previously imperceptible inner-polyphonies and harmonic sound-fields of inner resonance spaces now become audible. What occurs is, so to speak, a revealing and exteriorising of the “inner intensities” of the respective sounds.


While all of this was a preparatory work carried out according to a quasi scientific aspect of the observer and researcher, it only now becomes very exciting for the actual artistic composition process. The next stage is to produce an artificial creation of consistencies by means of the most varied artificial transformations of the previously carefully selected sound materials.


Furthermore, so-called "artificial sound milieus" are formed in a quasi acoustic amalgamation process. That is, a temporarily existing, specific mixture of sound substances and particles creates by means of self-impelled, proliferating self-intensifying loops - always starting from the middle (mi/middle lieu/place) - a symbiotic diversity of dynamically driven SoundEnergyStructures.


The essential point, however, is that no alteration, processing or even alienation whatsoever of single sound substances is carried out, only the inner dimensions and perspectives change, quasi mutating, whilst the relations between pitches, rhythms and timbres remain the same.


Thus one can say that the sound substance is not changed but, ultimately, only the receiver's perspective and dimension of perception changes.


Another essential aspect of these frequency transpositions is the dissolving of the semantic meaning of each particular sound. Whereas, at its original pitch, the sound was identifiable as something "definite", for example a frog or a toad, it is transported further away from its original semantic character the stronger the augmentation factor is. One could also say that the subjective substantial matter of the original sound develops into a desubjectivised expressive matter of transformed fragment patterns. Intermediary stages in changing consistency building are formed, between concrete and abstract, natural-artificial and so on.


The artificial creation of consistencies in terms of a symbiotically-fluorescing development of sound into actual animal/natural, phenomenon/noise succeeds in the same measure as the animal, the natural phenomenon, the noise develops into something "different": pure line, pure colour, pure rhythm, pure movement, pure figure … pure condition.


The Consistency-plan Map #2 shows furthermore aspects of the 32 channel spatial sound composition and creates a plateau of different possibilities for associations referring to the subjects mentioned above.


* The concept "dual" here also means, amongst other things, both channels of the stereo sound layers.