UdK Berlin Rundgang 2021


Andreas Sommer

generative 2-channel sound installation

Even though we are entangled in seemingly flowing streams of information in the form of moving images, sounds and unlimited connectivity, digital processes that we generally perceive as continuous are inherently binary. As the speeds of processing and presentation have been systematically designed to surpass the thresholds of our perception, the illusion of continuity remains. What we perceive as instant is indiscernibly delayed, what we perceive as smooth is diminutively stepped, what we perceive as sustained are fast-paced rhythms.

Whilst most modern technologies do not rely on moving parts anymore, the Zahnrad (cogwheel) has yet continued its existence as a prominent and complex icon in various cultural, political and social contexts. A relatively unimportant and practically useless piece by itself, it allows to create complex machinery in assemblage, being part of something bigger, a small but essential detail in a composition. The interlacing of rectangular shapes translates into continuous, circular motion and back. It allows to shift speeds of operation and to translate force of motion. It has become the prominent icon for customizable settings, of the inner workings, of what’s happening ‘under the hood’. It is and was a political slogan, favourable when the collective goal of the effort is considered desirable, and derogative when the individual is exploited because of it.

Cycling between binary states and shifting in speeds and rhythm, square wave oscillators are the Zahnräder of the post-industrial world. By making them audible we can renegotiate their ubiquitous yet cloaked status and eavesdrop on the interlacing, the interaction, the inner workings. Zahnräder therefore relates processing speeds and standards of different technologies and media such as power cycles, screen refresh times or satellite communication to each other, but most importantly to the human agent, threshold values of our perception and biological rhythms and regularities. Falling in and out of sync with each other, incessantly translating between iterative processes and continuous motion it meanders the borders of our distinction between individual pulses and pitch as well as our individually learned projections of rhythm, repetition and harmony to find meaning amidst excess of information.