published in: "TopoSonic Spheres - A Space-soundComposition"
booklet text of the CD/DVD publication by WERGO /, September 2004

<sabine schäfer // joachim krebs>

TopoSonic Spheres
- A Space-soundComposition


I. The Space-soundMaterials (Sp-s-Materials)

Exclusively recordings of natural noises and sounds constitute the basic and source material of this Sp-s-Composition.
Three different basic types of Sp-s-Materials specific for this work are extracted from the underlying three basic categories of resources for material ”nature – animal – human” which are at the core of all the works by the two artists since 1998 – starting with the TopoSonic Mandala " AquaAngelusVox"

In addition to the inner richness and lively variety of the ”found” and at first still amorphous-heterogeneous Sp-s basic material, the fact is of crucial importance that all the acoustic parameters such as rhythm, frequency, dynamics, spatiality and tone colour e.g. of the animal voices are marked by movements or activities such animals generate e.g. for the survival of the species, in their search for food or to mark their territory, or, as is the case for the natural sounds, by climatic conditions, the surrounding landscape or the vegetation.

Mainly because of the original process of optimised material exploitation through the microscopy of space and sound (which we call ”EndoSonoScopy”), this leads to an enormous increase, indeed, of ”new” (kinds of) basic and source material which can only be realised through the latest computer technology (sampling technique) and beyond the naturally subjectively limited human power of imagination.

Furthermore, it is the universal meanings and characters, aiming across all political-cultural borders of the sounds and noises of natural origin, known and familiar to everyone in their everyday life, which enable the listener to spontaneously access the actual Sp-s work of art – regardless of the underlying experimental-avantgarde approach – without certain cultural prerequisites, marks and knowledge.

II. The Space-soundMicroscopy (Sp-s-Microscopy) / EndoSonoScopy

If one were to transfer Paul Klee’s famous approach, phrased in 1920, and more scientific than artistic only at first glance, from the ”visual” to the ”auditory”, it would emerge as the following:
”(Sound) Art does not convey the visible (audible), but it makes visible (audible).”

If one, among other things, follows this maxim, one is faced with the question: How can one consolidate the material, the individual, still amorphous-heterogeneous Sp-s-Elements both mutual and reciprocal, with momentum and practically ”in itself” and ”in the other”, and intensify the naturally existent as well as the future artificially ”composable” capability of consistency by the Sp-s-Artist – always starting from the material, in order that the Sp-s-Components selected according to artistic criteria capture the invisible, inaudible - yes - unthinkable powers and energies beforehand, or generate and unfold them by   themselves from their own middle, from the interior of the microdimensions of acoustic spaces, sounds and noises?”

The first important step towards an answer to this complex question represents itself in and through the acoustic process of transformation: the dissolution of the (non-)sonorous, only concrete matter of content and meaning, and from its conversion into a purely sonorous, not just abstract, ”desubjectivised expressive matter” (Deleuze/Guattari).2)

Fig. 1: Erystalis pertinax flys´ foot SEM 220:1, © Jürgen Berger Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology Tübingen
By using digital sound processors (sampler) and computer-aided sampling techniques, this ”audio metamorphosis” can succeed especially with the following three productive processes:
- the Sp-s-Molecularisation which ”makes audible” what previously was ”inaudible” by acoustic space and sound microscopy followed by an analysis of acoustic-molecular internal structures
- the Sp-s-Fragmentation with ensuing artificial creation of self-intensifying loops (loops/warps) to externalise the own inner intensities.
- the Sp-s-Elementarisation with ensuing artificial consistency formation by creating temporary-specific mixes in the ”form” of individual Sp-s-Milieux.

The sound characteristics that have major importance particularly for the artificial consistency formation are often concealed from the bare ears, e.g. because they are beyond the human frequency audio barrier or because their rhythm sequence is too fast, i.e. they have an impulse density that is too high. In these cases, the procedure of Sp-s-Microscopy renders a valuable service to make that audible which was previously ”non-audible”, but already existing.

Fig. 2 Claw-limb of a flys´leg SEM 1.700:1 © Jürgen Berger Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology Tübingen As in the reproduced SEM image of a fly’s leg (fig.1+2) whose discernibility (”What is that?”) – similar to a picture puzzle – becomes less when a smaller fragment (”fragment patterns”) and a higher magnification factor for the audio-microscopy is selected, the ”concrete content matter” is increasingly dissolved and transferred into an ”abstract expression matter”. However, this process is not completed, so it is possible for each listener’s imagination, beyond (extra)musical meanings and contents, to develop individual, audio-inspired imaginations in an ”InterZone”, in permanent fluctuation between (!) ”pure” naturalness and ”sheer” abstraction. This succeeds even better as the animal voice, the sound of nature or the sound of metal also become something ”else”: ”sheer” line, ”sheer” space, ”sheer” colour, ”sheer” sound, ”sheer” rhythm, ”sheer” movement ... ”sheer” being.

III. The Space-soundComposition (Sp-s-Composition)

After selecting and making audible the individual Sp-s-Particles followed by a differentiated analysis, the process of providing the entire audio materials available for continued artistic work is concluded in the process of Sp-s-Elementarisation. This becomes manifest in the artificially introduced phase of ”intensification and processing” which increases the transparency and spatial presence of individual Sp-s-Elements through selective-partial reinforcement, diminution or even deletion of individual parameter values.

However, the Sp-s-Artist is able to continue his work not just with merely added – and thus complicated-chaotic instead of complex-transparent – Sp-s-Material, but also with universally simplified and creatively selected, limited and intensified Sp-s-Elements and Components from the sumptuous diversity of natural sounds and noises. Thus, he only has to retain the most elementary acoustic presence of lines, spaces, movements, duration, colours and speed of the exteriorised inner acoustic intensities and can detach them to create natural and artificially consistent Sp-s-Milieux through continued mixing and overlapping.

The evocation of ”expressive characteristics” (e.g. the becoming expressive of the rhythm: ”give a colour, an expression, a sound to the duration, the movements and speeds!”) plays a major role in the generation of such artificially created Sp-s-Milieux. These ”expressive qualities” in turn can – from the inside – generate and develop consistent classification systems far exceeding human logic and imagination from their individual own centre, without the pressure from a mechanical-regular pulse slipped on artificially from the exterior, or even from a linear-dramaturgical course of the form. Thus, variable relationships and consistencies develop with each other and among themselves, with momentum of their own, as well as internally mobile, with subliminal vibrations and indirect interaction – and because of the non-linear character of ”corresponding space and sound molecules”.

Accordingly, the point is not anymore to force or to develop a form for matter, but instead to generate ”states of becoming” from exteriorised inner intensities and desubjectivised affects. Form(s) should dissolve, e.g. to make audible the most minute variations in speed between compound (”composed”) spatialities and fast < = > slow movements up to silence.

The space-soundscape, artificially created by the Sp-s-Artist thus appears as an ensemble of desubjectivised expressive matter in a matrix of space and sound stacked in all directions of the ”temporary”-horizontal and rhythmically-melodic Space-soundFigure and the ”spatial”-vertical and resonant-harmonic Space-soundStructure.

© 2004 <sabine schäfer // joachim krebs>

SEM images::
Fig.1: Erystalis pertinax flys´ foot SEM 220:1
Fig.2: Claw-limb of a flys´leg SEM 1.700:1
© Jürgen Berger, Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology Tübingen

1) "AquaAngelusVox – A TopoSonicMandala with Hildegard von Bingen" 1998/2003
published as DVD/CD 2004 by MDG 924 1254-5

2) Incidentally, the French philosopher duo Deleuze/Guattari, has long since inspired our artistic work with its “thought rhizomes” and papers in a very basic and sustained way, e.g. Joachim Krebs, "Rhizome II" (1982) published by WERGO, Ed. Contemporary Music (WER 65262) / Sabine Schäfer, "TopoPhonicPlateaus" (1995) col legno, "Donaueschinger Musiktage 1995 (Music Festival Donaueschingen 1995)" (WWE 31898) / <sabine schäfer // joachim krebs>, "Sonic Lines n´Rooms" (1999) WERGO, "Sonic Arts in Germany" (CD-ROM, T 5150).