Louise K Wilson
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Hahn Raum | 2010

'Hahn Raum', a commissioned artwork for the 'Comeback' exhibition at Kuenstlerhaus Dortmund, Germany, September/ October 2010. Seven european artists, who had previously exhibited at Kuenstlerhus Dortmund, were invited back to make new work in resonse to their earlier personal exhibition experience.

This work explores ideas around the acoustics of space, the haunting and haunted nature of sound recordings and the audible presence of shifting recording technologies.

This piece for 'Comeback' re-used an archive audio recording of scientist Otto Hahn that was part of my installation 'The Eros of Splitting' made especially for the Kuenstlerhaus in 1992. 'Eros' explored ideas about the 'splitting' of the body through the non-invasive medical imaging technology of MRI in relation to imagery and language around radiance and radiation. In the spoken recording, Hahn describes the experimental apparatus used in the discovery of nuclear fission in 1938. This recording accompanies the display of the table used for this discovery at the Deutsches Museum, Muenchen.

In the manner of Alvin Lucier's famous 1969 sound work 'I am sitting in a room' the recording of Otto Hahn was played back into the space at the Kuenstlerhaus where my original piece was exhibited. Following Lucier, this broadcast was iteratively played back and re-recorded in situ numerous times. It is characteristic of such recordings that the legibility of the voice becomes obscured with each iteration of the recording process, and the resonant frequency of the room (the background) slowly takes over. This ultimately results in the production of an abstract tonal soundscape.

Four versions were made of this sound 'mirroring', with the original recording tuned to different pitches. These four resulting recordings were played back simultaneously, each emanating from a different speaker. Overall a 'chord' could be heard, but the intensity of any given 'note' varied with the listener's spatial proximity to each of the speakers in the installation. 

This chord refers back to the sound element of the installation 'Zehn Mal Null' which I made for the machine hall at Zeche Zollern 11/IV in 1992. The four different pitches of a female singer's voice at four different pitches could be heard emanating from various machines in this resonant space. 
Alongside the four abstract resonant recordings, the original spoken recording of Hahn (with its audible 'noise' from numerous analogue transfers) was synchronously played back off a 7 inch record, from a small record player with a built-in amplifier/ speaker.

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